As an educator, a scientist, and a father of three in District 203 Schools, Joe is a dedicated leader working to provide a high quality education for ALL students in a safe, welcoming, and inclusive learning environment and to ensure students have the supports they need for success.
While Joe was first elected to the Naperville District 203 School Board in 2019, his passion for education dates back many years. He grew up in a family educators that valued science and education. He started tutoring in high school and continued tutoring and participating in outreach throughout his undergraduate and graduate school years. He earned his bachelors of science degree from the University of Notre Dame and his masters and doctorate in Physics from Michigan State University. He spent his last three years of graduate school doing research at Fermilab, living in Naperville for part of that time. He became an adjunct astronomy instructor at Triton College during his last year of graduate school before joining the Physics Department at Lewis University 17 years ago. As a physics educator, Joe’s work and interests extend beyond the classroom walls into outreach to K-12 students and the public, into research about how students learn physics and develop transferable skills, and into education policy and science and education advocacy.
Joe has also demonstrated leadership at Lewis University and in several professional organizations. He has been Chair of the Physics Department for 11 years, has led Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives in his Department and College, and has served on and chaired numerous College and University committees, including Budget and Faculty Affairs (i.e. policy) committees. He has served on and chaired a number of committees and task forces within the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT), including serving on the Executive Committee of the Undergraduate Curriculum Task Force and chairing the writing team that produced a set of skill and competency-based recommendations for the undergraduate physics laboratory curriculum. He has also served through the executive line of the Chicago Section of the AAPT and on the Board of Directors and currently as Vice President of the Advanced Laboratory Physics Association (ALPhA). For his service, he has been awarded the Homer L. Dodge Citation for Distinguished Service to the AAPT and the Distinguished Service Award by the Chicago Section of the AAPT.
As a scientist, Joe’s research interests have transitioned from particle physics to climate vulnerability inputs like air quality and urban heat islands. Poor air quality from things like diesel emissions and heavy industry impacts public health and can cause or exacerbate conditions like childhood asthma and other respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses. As a School Board Member, Joe has been an advocate for moving to zero-emission buses, transitioning the drivers ed fleet to electric vehicles, and moving to cleaner energy sources like solar panels. He has also advocated for finding ways to increase sustainability and reduce the District’s carbon footprint and energy expenses when doing routine infrastructure improvements.
As a School Board member, Joe has been active and engaged. He drafted two resolutions that were supported by his colleagues on the School Board and submitted to the Illinois Association of School Board (IASB) Resolutions Committee for consideration. The first addressed security concerns at school polling places on election days, allowing for learning to continue through e-learning instead of not having school those days. This resolution was supported by the IASB Resolutions Committee and the Delegate Assembly of School Board members across the state, and e-learning on election days is now allowed by a new state law. The second resolution urged for additional funding for zero-emissions buses and clean charging infrastructure. Unfortunately, this resolution was not taken up by the IASB Resolutions Committee and, therefore, was not put to a vote of the Delegate Assembly.
In addition, Joe has voted to save taxpayers more than $20 million through refunds and abatements and has supported many initiatives that benefit District 203 students and the community, including initiatives to:
- Close achievement gaps
- Implement the District’s Comprehensive Equity Plan
- Implement multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS) for students
- Expand academic support staff, such as having a math specialist in every school
- Expand summer learning opportunities
- Add electric vehicles to the drivers ed fleet
- Partner with the Naperville Education Foundation (NEF) to provide wrap-around services for students and families through the RISE program
- Partner with NEF to expand STEM activities to all schools through First Lego League
He has served on various School Board Committees, including the Diversity Committee, the Citizen’s Finance Committee, the Business Partnerships Committee, and the Naperville Education Foundation Board. He has done additional professional development as a school board member and was awarded “Master School Board Member” designation by the Illinois Association of School Boards in 2021.
Between Joe’s work on the Naperville 203 School Board, at Lewis, and with several professional organizations, he has strong leadership, policy, and budget experience that that are an asset to the District 203 School Board. He listens to the ideas and concerns of the community, carefully considers available data and research to make evidence-based decisions, and works collaboratively with the other six school board members to provide a world-class education for ALL students in District 203.