Early voting is now underway in the April 6th, 2021 Consolidated Election. As Barrington 220 prepares to welcome the district’s new superintendent of schools, there are eleven candidates running for four open seats on the district’s Board of Education (BOE). After an unprecedented year of distance learning and voter approval of a $147M bond referendum for school improvements, local residents have been weighing their choices carefully.
To help inform our decisions on election day, we’ve reached out to all candidates including Thomas J. Mitoraj, Lauren Berkowitz Klauer, Jonathan Matta, Erin Chan Ding, Katie Karam, Malgorzata McGonigal, William Betz, Robert Windon and Steve Wang along with incumbents, Sandra Ficke-Bradford and Mike Shackleton.
Find all published profiles at 365Barrington.com/220BOE.
We’re continuing our candidate profiles today by getting to know a little more about Robert Windon.
Former Village of Barrington Trustee, attorney and father-of-two, Robert Windon has experience with making community decisions as an elected local government leader. Long-time students of Barrington 220’s Chinese Immersion program, Windon’s two children have attended six of the district’s schools. The Windon family also spent three years living and learning in Germany. Windon says an ability to build consensus with an unbiased look at complex issues is key to the future success of our schools.
Meet the Candidate: Robert Windon
365: Where is your original home and family? What brought you to Barrington? How long have you lived here and what do you love about our community?
Robert Windon: I grew up in Lake Forest with my parents and older sister Jeannette. My mother taught junior high math and my father, who passed away when I was in high school, worked in corporate communication. It was there that I met my wife, Allison, during our sophomore year in high school.
After I graduated from law school in 2006, I took a job as an Assistant State’s Attorney in McHenry County. With a job in the far Northwest suburbs, Allison and I knew we had to move out of Chicago. We set a few criteria for our move: make our commutes relatively similar, live within walking distance to a traditional downtown area, and a topflight school district for our son Clayton, then 2.5 years old. We found Barrington and fell in love with the unique character and wonderful people. Other than a three year stretch where our family moved to Munich, Germany for Allison’s job, we have lived here ever since.
365: What grades are your children in today? How would you describe what your experience has been with learning in Barrington 220?
Robert Windon: We have a 10th grade son, Clayton (15) at BHS and 6th grade daughter, Maggie (12) at Station Middle School. With our children being part of the Chinese Immersion program from its inception, my wife and I have had the opportunity to see more than our fair share of the schools in our district (Early Learning Center, Roslyn Road, North Barrington, South Barrington, Station Middle School, and BHS). We have been impressed with the quality of education and wonderful community at each school. Furthermore, having moved recently into the Hough Street School area, we have found yet another tight knit elementary school community attached to another award-winning elementary school. Even after being here so long, I’m continually amazed at the passion our residents have for each and every one of our district schools.
365: What is motivating you to run for school board now and why are you a good fit for the role?
Robert Windon: I have always believed in public service. It was instilled in me from my early days by my father who worked on political campaigns my entire childhood. From 2011-2015 I was an elected Village Trustee in Barrington where I worked extensively on issues like our beautiful downtown development that now houses restaurants like Neoteca and Shakou. Since my return from Europe, I have served as a member of the Plan Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals.
Additionally, I became quite involved in issues related to the school board as one of the founding leaders of the Barrington Chinese Immersion Council. When the program faced a loss of funding from the federal government, we worked closely with the members of the Barrington 220 board and members of the community to ensure the continuity of this amazing program.
But, as the son and brother-in-law of school teachers, I have always wanted to serve on the school board. After helping other candidates run campaigns in the last couple election cycles and then serving as co-chair of the campaigns to pass the bond referendum last year in Barrington 220, I decided it was time for me to run for school board.
365: What are your short-term goals for Barrington 220?
Robert Windon: Short term: we need to safely and responsibly get the children back into the classroom successfully if they want to go back. Ideally, this would mean returning to school 5-days a week with athletics and extracurricular activities returning to ‘normal.’ But, if and when that is not possible, we must once again reimagine education and get students back to school as much as possible – even if that return to school looks different than we are used to.
365: What are your longer-term goals for our school district?
Robert Windon: Long Term: Barrington 220 has a history of offering students a variety of non-traditional educational opportunities; from two language immersion programs starting in elementary school to the business incubator program at BHS – as well as many in between. We need to take this same attitude to post-Covid education; we need to be willing to re-imagine education- just as was done last March.
Oftentimes it takes a disruptive event to see the future. While the objective has been to get students back into classrooms, we now have the experience and infrastructure to investigate or pilot alternate ways of teaching to meet students where they learn the best. I have talked to more than one family choosing remote learning for their children this semester, not to avoid getting Covid but because Covid has shown them remote learning is best for their children. We owe it to these families to try and offer new educational opportunities.
365: What are your biggest concerns for our students and our school district today?
Robert Windon: Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Barrington 220, like all districts nationwide, has faced unprecedented challenges. Decisions about how to deliver the best possible education to students while, at the same time, keeping children safe have been agonized over time and time again.
As we see the light at the end of the tunnel, this district must evaluate where students have fallen behind, both educationally as well as socially and emotionally, and determine how to best get those students ready for the future.
Something I learned over the years is that too many people are very focused on ‘today’ and only start thinking about ‘tomorrow’ when their children age up to the next school level. I want to help families in Barrington 220 understand their children’s education holistically. A parent with children at the elementary level may think BHS is too far away to think about, but take it from me, it’s not as far as you think! By getting people to not be siloed in how they see and understand Barrington 220 will help the district get real engagement to help propel the district forward.
365: What do you think are the biggest opportunities we have for our students/school district today?
Robert Windon: We have an amazing opportunity to really deliver on being the district of choice for people relocating to the area while continuing to push the boundaries of the things schools can do for those already in the district. We can’t let our forward progress slip because of Covid, we need to go into Fall 2021 with the belief that things will start to get back to normal. So what can we do now to be ready?
365: In your view, what should our priorities be as a community in choosing the new school board members?
Robert Windon: I’ve always been impressed by the variety of people and backgrounds of the Barrington 220 school board. Our district has done a great job over the years putting smart and responsible people on the board. Like previous elections, the priorities should be candidates who have children in the system, a willingness to try and understand the many different sides of a complex issue, and the understanding of how local government works.
365: What’s at risk with the wrong leadership in place?
Robert Windon: Too often when self-serving or ‘one-issue’ candidates are elected adversarial relationships are created rather than solid working relationships. When this happens, the productivity, and the agenda, of the entire board suffers. Especially in these charged political times, it is important to have school board members who will have open and unbiased debates about what is best for our students and district.
365: Do you have any favorite role models who made a lasting impression on you?
Robert Windon: My father grew up in rural West Virginia and worked tirelessly to give me and my sister opportunities that he never had. While he passed away when I was only 16 years old, the lessons of hard work and public service have stuck with me my entire life.
In terms of words to live by, I’m inspired by Winston Churchill’s “It is better to be making the news than taking it; to be an actor rather than a critic.” I’d like to be a member of the 220 Board so that I can be an actor in impacting the future of our district.
365: What’s one of your favorite things to do or places to be in Barrington, with whom and why?
Robert Windon: As I mentioned above, one of the key reasons that our family moved to Barrington was for the amazing, walkable downtown area. Since the world changed for us all last March, walking around the downtown area and into the Cuba Marsh have been a respite for my family. If I had to pick one favorite, it would have to be our daily walks to Cook Street Coffee which provided time to clear our heads and connect, along with some much needed delicious caffeine.
365: Any other things you’d like us to know about what you’ll bring to Barrington 220?
Robert Windon: Having the opportunity to spend three years living in another country has given me a unique perspective to bring to the board. Not only have I spent three years intimately involved with the International Baccalaureate degree program, but I have had the opportunity to meet people from all over the world and learn about different educational systems and priorities.
365: Where may we find more information about you and your campaign?
Robert Windon: Windon220.com.
Voter priorities in this election include refining best practices after lessons learned during Covid-19, the future education and safety of our students and stewardship of the $147M voter-approved bond referendum for planned school improvements, district-wide. There have been two candidate forums in March. Barrington 220’s PTO President’s Council hosted the first forum on March 3rd.
The second candidates forum was hosted on March 13th by the League of Women Voters, Palatine Area.
Barry Altshuler, Leah Collister-Lazzari and Angela Wilcox will remain in their positions. Board President, Penny Kazmier and Gavin Newman are not seeing reelection. Incumbents, Sandra Ficke-Bradford and Mike Shackleton are among the eleven who will be on the April 6th, 2021 ballot.
Stay tuned for more Barrington 220 Board of Education candidate profiles in the days ahead. With the April 6th election fast approaching and early voting underway now, we’ll be sharing our final profiles this week.
Find all published profiles at 365Barrington.com/220BOE.
Barrington’s schools are a big part of what gives Barrington its unique character and we appreciate all who are willing to help lead the way on behalf of Barrington families, children and young adults.
Formed in 1973, Barrington Community Unit School District 220 educates over 9,000 students at one high school, two middle schools (grades 6-8), eight elementary schools, and one early childhood center. District 220 encompasses 72 square miles in 4 counties and covers 12 villages: all of Barrington, Lake Barrington, Tower Lakes; and portions of Barrington Hills, Carpentersville, Deer Park, Fox River Grove, Port Barrington, Hoffman Estates, Inverness, North Barrington, and South Barrington. Learn more at Barrington220.org.