The Frankfort School District 157-C Board of Education welcomed Larry Kociolek as its new member to fill a vacant seat at a special meeting held July 26.
Kociolek said he will bring his expertise as a physician-scientist to serve on the board until his term expires in the spring of 2019, at which point the late Christopher McFadden’s seat would’ve been up for election. McFadden was found dead in late June.
Currently employed by Lurie Children’s Hospital as associate medical director of infection prevention and control and by Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine as assistant professor of pediatrics, Kociolek is a graduate of Northwestern University, Saint Louis University School of Medicine and Illinois Wesleyan University and is a resident of Frankfort.
“We were fortunate to have the selection that [we had], especially during the summer when people are busy,” Board President Gina Briese said. “Larry [Kociolek] did have a very strong resume and background.”
To fill the seat, the board reviewed the qualifications of six candidates.
“First and foremost, when community members submit their names, that’s the ultimate volunteer position,” said Maura Zinni, superintendent of Frankfort School District 157-C. “My sense is they’re dedicated, they’re understanding, they’re committed, they’re responsible, they’re ethical. [Larry Kociolek] will fit in while being careful of how we spend our dollars.”
Kociolek said it is an honor to know that he was appointed to the board.
“Obviously, I’m happy and excited to serve the community,” he said. “The circumstances surrounding the vacancy are unfortunate. I’m looking forward to serving the community.”
The decision to appoint Kociolek to serve as a new member will mark a first for the Frankfort resident because he has never served on a school board. However, Kociolek has served on committees for curriculum and development, as well as other educational initiatives involving physicians and medical schools.
Kociolek said he thinks he can bring a unique perspective to the board.
“I think my background is different than the others on the board,” he said. “With a career in academia and medicine, which includes coordinating quality improvement in the hospital. These experiences translate well. It requires addressing problems by working with stakeholders, as well as a team of individuals with diverse expertise to achieve a common goal.”
Kociolek wanted it to be clear that he does not come with an agenda and stressed that he is happy with the education his child is receiving in Frankfort School District 157-C.
“My goal for this would be to provide a unique voice—a voice to a diverse and well-skilled board—to maintain the success they’ve had for a quite a long time,” he said.
Kociolek said he feels ready to serve on the board.
“Through my medical training, I’ve worked closely with children with a variety of socioeconomic challenges,” he said. “With my medical training and my interest in public health, I think I’d be particularly able to help Frankfort School District 157-C with curriculum development regarding STEM, public health issues and the development of policies particularly important for children with medical, developmental, or socioeconomic challenges.”
Zinni went on to laud the candidates who expressed in interest in the position.
“A lot of the candidates had qualities that lend well to serving the board,” she said. “We have community members interested because they know they’re joining a board doing well. I believe they view serving the board in a positive light.”
Kociolek will take the oath of office at the board’s Aug. 16 meeting.