District 203 Board of Education President Kristin Fitzgerald strives to tackle the academic achievement gap

Photo credit to the Naperville Education Foundation

Photo credit to the Naperville Education Foundation

Upon entering the Fitzgerald house, one is immediately filled with warmth and compassion. Despite the hardships that Kristin Fitzgerald, the President of the District 203 Board of Education, has faced throughout many years, she still continues to strive to be an outstanding mother to her three daughters, Nora, Maggie and Lucy, while also making strides in the school district aimed at positively impacting students for years to come.

After graduating from Taylor University in 1993, Fitzgerald went to work in Washington D.C., kick-starting her career in the political sphere. There, she worked as an education policy advisor for former Representatives Harris Fawell and Judy Biggert. Fitzgerald was able to start networking and learning the legislative process, which have benefited her in her career path and eventually in her role as school board president.

“In Washington, I handled education policy, so I’m super familiar with the federal education laws and the way that they impact local communities,” Fitzgerald said.

As District 203 Board President, Fitzgerald’s main passion rests with closing the achievement gap and providing equal opportunities for learning to all students in the district. One of the board’s main initiatives was to invest in teacher coaches, academic specialists and smaller class sizes for the lower grades in an attempt to close the gap.

“I’m very proud of those investments because they not only help our students today, but they will continue to pay dividends in the future,” Fitzgerald said.

The school board also values their community outreach programs. They host Focus 203, a forum where community members can come speak to board members, as well as Adopt-a-School, where board members are assigned to a school in the district and are able to interact with that community.

“We’re really open to listening to the feedback of the entire community,” Fitzgerald said.

Along with running all of the many initiatives that the district is involved in, Fitzgerald raises her three daughters as a single mother, as her husband died of stomach cancer when her children were very young. The loss that she experienced has inspired her to create change and help others who have been affected by the same illness that impacted her family. She advocates for increased stomach cancer research yearly, and has contributed in getting the disease added to a list that was granted increased research money by Congress.

“Experiencing a loss like that gives you more passion to help others,” Fitzgerald said. “You never know when your story can positively impact someone that can make a difference.”

Fitzgerald encourages young women to find an issue they are passionate about, research it and be able to “articulate and advocate” their viewpoints.

“Taking political activity on as part of your career path or even just your path as a citizen is important. Advocacy is something I really want to encourage, even if you don’t have a career in political science,” Fitzgerald said.