Written by Jennifer Wagner
During a recent conversation, IPS Board of School Commissioners President MaryAnn Sullivan shared her perspectives about her leadership role.
1. What does it mean to you to be selected by your colleagues as Board President?
It’s an incredible honor to be selected for this position, and I’m grateful for the trust of my fellow Commissioners. I take this responsibility very seriously, and I hope we can all work together on behalf of our students and families, as well as the thousands of teachers, staff and other personnel who shape their educational experiences.
2. What are your top priorities in this leadership position?
My number one priority is making sure that we are implementing the goals and reaching the milestones in our strategic plan, which we adopted last year. I look at the plan as a roadmap for our success as a district, and I’d encourage all of our families to review it. We were very deliberate about the direction we are taking and what we intend to do to make sure our schools and the district are meeting the needs of every student we serve.
3. What do you believe have been your greatest successes since you joined the Board?
I’m going to turn once again to the strategic plan as a success because we’ve never had something like it — a deliberate, detailed outline for our future — in place before. As the mom of an IPS teacher, I’d be remiss if I didn’t say how much joy it brought me to be able to help negotiate a contract last year that gave our teachers their first raise in five years. I’m also proud that we’re working quickly but in a smart way to empower school leaders with more decision-making authority at the school level and expanding access to the programs our families most want.
4. Talk about your connection to IPS and why you wanted to serve this district as a Commissioner.
My family has deep roots within IPS, and all of my children attended IPS schools. I live in the IPS community, and I have a deep and longtime commitment to K-12 education. The reason I do this work is simple: our kids deserve the best, and I’m not going to stop until they all have access to high-quality schools in every ZIP code. There’s just too much at stake, and we have a duty to look at this district not as a conglomerate of schools operated by a top-down central office, but as a network of opportunity where each school is focused on serving its families. It’s a shift away from how IPS has operated in the past, and I’m keenly aware of the need for that transformation as someone who’s been an IPS parent and grandparent, state lawmaker and education policy specialist.
5. What’s one thing that might surprise people to learn about you?
If I’m not engaged in my work as a Commissioner, chances are you’ll find me at home babysitting my grandkids. They keep me young!