Candidate profile: Gary Henning

Name: Gary Henning

Age: 69

Home: Freeburg

Family members: wife, two daughters, five grandchildren

Office you are seeking: Freeburg Community High School District 77 School Board Member

Occupation: Retired teacher/coach at Freeburg High School; part-time zoning administer for the Village of Freeburg

Previous and current elected offices: Served on the Freeburg Community High School District 77 board for the last eight years.

Why are you running?: I am running to serve my community that I believe greatly values quality public education. My professional life has been devoted to education and this is an avenue to continue to serve my community. I am willing to spend the time required to become informed of the issues before us. I desire to work as a member of a team, keeping an open mind, and engaging my fellow board members to reach a group consensus. As a board member, I will continue to try to marshal our resources to meet the needs of the school and community. Bascially our budget is governed by our tax base and we try to do as much as possible with the resources available to us.

What is the most important issue facing Freeburg District 77? How would you approach it? The most important issue facing Freeburg High School, and all schools, is to offer the highest quality programs to our students. The measurement of our success is how well our students are prepared to move on in education and into their lives as successful professionals in whatever line of work they choose.

Should a school district’s demographics mirror that of its student population? Our goal is to hire the best, most qualified professionals to teach and work with our students. We hear wonderful updates on our students and their accomplishments at every board meeting.

How much emphasis should your school district put on STEM education? STEM is a curriculum with an enhanced focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math offered with an interdisciplinary and applied approach. Since our mandate is to offer uniform and enhanced programs at high schools in Illinois, I would answer the question in this way. Most districts offer students the option of taking courses to prepare them for either furthering their education/training after high school or joining the work force. Depending on school finances, a district could possibly entertain greater emphasis in areas where as a group, students exhibit a need for higher level class. The numbers would need to support the expense. Students could take advanced placement classes at the high school or possibly at a local community college or university.

What are your views on the high school’s mascot? I have been a part of Freeburg High School as a teacher and coach or board member for 41 years. The mascot has always been a source of pride in school and community. As long as the mascot is displayed in a positive manner, I will continue to support the “Midget” as our mascot. To me, it has always been a sign of loyalty and pride in the school.

In St. Clair County, there will be votes for two sales tax referendums. One would benefit school facility costs, one would benefit public safety. Do you support either or both of the referendums? Why or why not? I support both of the referendums. Because our children are our future, the most vital things we must offer these children in their community is the highest quality education as well as the safest environment possible.

Why should people vote for you? I have been associated with Freeburg High School for 41 years, eight as a board member following 33 as a teacher and coach. As a teacher I was named the District 77 Outstanding Educator in 1980 and received the Emerson Excellence in Teaching Award in 2002. I was voted into the school Sports Hall of Fame in 1989. As a board member, I was recognized as a Master School Board member by the Illinois Association of School Boards in 2015. During my eight years on the board, I was part of implementing the 1 to 1 Chromebook program and getting the referendum passed for the new addition to the school building as well as the improvements to our athletic facilities. After serving in the Army, I returned to Freeburg and have lived here ever since. I have been involved in many community organizations and serves as the manger of the swimming pool for 30 years. For the past four years, I have been the Zoning Administrator for the village.