Past Event

Our Community – what it has, what it needs

How does economic inequality affect school performance?

School Bus on Dirt RoadAs more and more public schools find themselves providing food, school supplies, and other basic services for students living below the poverty line, the connections between economic inequality and school performance have become more apparent.

Join us for an interactive event featuring Lynne Haeffele (Center for the Study of Educational Policy at Illinois State University), Terrence “Tat” Taylor (Family Support Coordinator at Decatur Public School District 61 and radio host), Tamelyn Motley (Freshman Academy Counselor at Eisenhower High School), and Fred Spannaus (Decatur Public School District 61 Board of Education).

After a short talk from Dr. Haeffele, participants will break out into small groups to get a chance to talk about how their experiences in Decatur resonate with others’ across the state and country. Then we’ll end the evening by coming back together for a closing assembly – moderated by Teena Zindel-McWilliams, coordinator of curriculum and grants at Richland Community College – to hear what issues were most important to each group and enjoy a special presentation by Dennis Lab School students about their recently completed Habitat for Humanity project.

This event is free and open to the public. Registration is recommended.

More about our participants

Dr. Lynne Haeffele’s background spans the education spectrum. As a high school science teacher and department chair, she won numerous local, state, and national educator awards and taught teacher preparation courses at Illinois State University (ISU). She then served the Illinois State Board of Education for fourteen years in various administrative roles and ultimately as Chief Deputy Superintendent. Dr. Haeffele joined ISU in 2004 as a senior education researcher. She served as Senior Policy Director for Education under Lieutenant Governor Sheila Simon from 2011 to 2014, and now directs the Center for the Study of Education Policy in the ISU College of Education. Her research projects and published work include studies of high-poverty/high-performing schools, college readiness and completion, teacher distribution, college student transfer, and school/university partnerships.

Terrence “TAT” Taylor is a public figure in the community. Born & raised in Decatur IL. TAT has been in broadcasting as a radio personality for over 14yrs. Starting back at the age of 15 when he was only a Sophomore at MacArthur High School. TAT is one of the most prominent broadcasters in Central Illinois. TAT has also expanded his reach & influence by working with Decatur Public Schools as a “Family Support Coordinator”. Begin active & making a positive impact in his community is TAT’s #1 goal. To bring about change by example.

Fred Spannaus is a member of the Decatur District 61 School Board, having served since 2013. In private life, he is an independent consultant with a practice that focuses on two diverse areas: advising local communities on responding to homelessness, and protecting human rights in the workplace. Prior to entering the field of consulting nearly 20 years ago, he was an executive in the nonprofit sector. Fred has a bachelor’s degree from Valparaiso University and a master’s degree from the University of Illinois at Springfield. He has also taken post-graduate studies at DePaul University.

Teena Zindel-McWilliams is currently the Coordinator of Curriculum and Grants at Richland Community College, where she has worked for the past 34 years in a number of positions. Ms. Zindel-McWIlliams is an active participant in the Richland Speakers Bureau, making presentations on a variety of historical topics. She has served on the Decatur Public Library Board of Trustees, on the DPL Friends Board, and currently on the DPL Foundation. She has worked with several community organizations on developing Strategic Plans and is a facilitator for planning and development at Richland. Ms. Zindel-McWilliams currently services as Chair of the Marketing Committee for the Lincoln Trails Council, Boy Scouts of America, and is a member of Delta Kappa Gamma, Beta Sigma Chapter. She and her husband Brad live in Decatur, and their son Sam, who attended Parsons, Thomas Jefferson, and Eisenhower, resides in Santa Cruz, CA, where he works as an Ocean Engineer.

More on Continuing Ed.: Parents and the Future of Illinois Public Schools

Continuing Ed. is a yearlong, statewide series working with parents, schools, and communities across the state – in Chicago, Decatur, Elgin, and Jackson County to move the conversation about public education back to parents. For the complete schedule and more information, see

If you require a sign interpreter or any other arrangements to fully participate in this program, please contact at least 72 hours in advance of the event. For more information, please call (312)422-5580.