Voters will cast their ballot for four open seats on the Mahomet-Seymour board of education during the consolidated general election. Those asking for your vote include Julie Cebulski, Meghan Hennesy, Jeremy Henrichs, Ken Keefe, Jenny Park, Lance Raver, Colleen Schultz and Jason Tompkins. Each week, we will feature one candidate (in alphabetical order) in a Q&A style. This week: Jenny Park.
No. 1: Tell me a little bit about yourself.
"I have been in Mahomet since 2013. I've been on the school board since 2014. I took over for Valerie Woodruff after she stepped down. I've served (the school board) for about four and a half years."
Park was elected during the 2015 consolidated general election and is now running for her second term.
"I am an attorney at Myer Capel, and I have been here since 2002. I practice in real estate and land development. I actually grew up in Tolono, and I graduated from Unity High School and went to Indiana University for my school, and then I practiced for a little bit and I moved back here.
"My son, Noah, graduated from Mahomet-Seymour and he's a sophomore at the University of Illinois. I have a daughter, Sophie, who's 9 and is a fourth-grader at Lincoln Trail."
Park and her husband, Peter, along with daughter, Sophie, reside in Mahomet.
No. 2: What caught your interest about Mahomet?
"My son had interest in being on a football team, and Mahomet's school was and is excellent and was a perfect fit for us."
No. 3: Why are you running for the Mahomet-Seymour school board?
"I've always had passion for education, especially children's education. I've always been a Sunday school teacher, so I've always had a passion for children and their learning. Terry Greene (a former M-S school board member) asked if I had any interest. I had served on the school board at (Champaign's) Judah Christian School. I've always had that passion and so when Terry approached me, I said 'absolutely.'
"I thoroughly enjoy it. I feel it is something that's a passion of mine, and I also feel like I'm serving my civic duties as a citizen. And while I'm not from Mahomet, the years that I've been in Mahomet, I do feel like I'm a part of Mahomet now, and I truly have a passion with what Mahomet's doing with its community, with its children, with its education."
No. 4: What's something most people don't know about you?
"I actually moved to the U.S. from South Korea when I was 8 years old, so English is my second language."
No. 5: If elected, what would you consider an important topic as a school board member?
"There are four things that I think are important. I don't want to get into the weeds. We hire our teachers and our administrators to do what the board oversees, and so the (first of the) four things that I would like to focus on and continue to grow on is our academic excellence.
"Mahomet is always at the top. I don't want us to get stagnant. I want us to continue to push because I think we're great, but we can always be greater.
"Another concern is the safe-learning environment. We made a huge step in getting a school resource officer. I think it's been a great success. Our parents want to know when they drop their kids off that they're safe, and it's something I'd like to continue to see us achieve.
"Fiscal responsibility is another concern, but I think we've done a very good job of watching our numbers and making sure the budget is balanced.
"Another (concern) is infrastructure and growth. As you know, schools can't be stagnant, and we've done a good job of combining Middletown and Sangamon (elementary schools), and we did all of that without a referendum — that's part of that fiscal responsibility to make sure we give our best to our children and our parents without breaking the bank. I want to continue to do that.
"But at the same time, I want us to continue to grow. Part of education is making sure our kids have the ability to get better, and new buildings are essentially a part of it."