Past Event

Roundtable Discussion: The Purpose and Promise of Public Schools

The culminating event of Illinois Humanities’ yearlong, statewide series Continuing Ed. will be a roundtable at the Decatur Public Library with a panel of local elected officials, journalists, nonprofit leaders, and community leaders that uses a short text by influential education philosopher Robert Maynard Hutchins to ask:

What should we expect from public education and what can families do to help their local schools achieve that promise?

The evening will also feature scenes from a new documentary on the statewide story of public education produced by Free Spirit Media as well as the print release of “What About Us? A Compendium on Equity in Public Education” – a resource for those looking to become more active in their local school.

Panelists include:

  • Brittany Acree (teacher of mathematics and project-based learning, Dennis Lab School)
  • Jeffery Aper (provost, Millkin University, and historian of education)
  • Rev. Beth Fender (coordinator of Discipleship and New Streams, Illinois Great Rivers Conference, United Methodist Church, former public school teacher, and parent of students in District 61 schools)
  • Alida Graham (chairperson of the Old Kings Orchard Community Center board of directors, retired District 61 teacher, and former member of the District 61 board of education)
  • Bishop G.E. Livingston (president of Robertson Charter School and pastor of Life Changers Church)
  • Ed Moyer (chief instructional officer, District 61 schools)
  • Bruce Nims (representative of Grow Decatur, local business leader, and entrepreneur-in-residence, Millikin University)
  • Beth Nolan (vice president, District 61 board of education, and parent, Dennis Lab School)
  • Jill Reedy (assistant superintendent, Macon-Piatt Regional Office of Education, and member of the Lutheran School Association of Decatur board of education)
  • Nicholas Walsh (teacher of social studies, Thomas Jefferson Middle School, Decatur Rotary Club #180 teacher of the year, and historical documentary filmmaker)

Teena Zindel-McWilliams (coordinator of curriculum and grants, Richland Community College) will moderate the discussion.

Members of the audience will have opportunities to comment, as well.



Continuing Ed. is a yearlong, statewide series working with parents, schools, and communities across the state – in Chicago, Decatur, Elgin, and southern Illinois 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.