Board of Education Members:
Louise Dechovitz (Vice President)
I have been a resident of Wilmette for 7 years. I grew up in the area and is a graduate of New Trier. I then attended Lawrence University and have a BA in Slavic Linguistics and Literature. Following graduation, I spent the next 9 years living and working abroad, in Russia, France and England. I pursued a career in Expatriate Tax and worked for Deloitte Tax LLP in Paris, London and Chicago. I have two children in the Avoca School District. I have volunteered in many capacities in District 37 including PTC Director of Volunteers, PTC committee chairperson for spirit wear, member of numerous PTC committees and co-founder of the Avoca Different Learners group which serves as a forum for parents of children with special needs and other learning differences to connect with each other. I strongly believe that you cannot educate a child’s mind without also educating the heart.
Dan E. Garbis (Member)
My family and I have lived in the Avoca District for the past fourteen years. With four children in the school district ranging from second to ninth grade, I have experienced the entire span of District 37. I received my bachelors from DePaul in accounting and passed the CPA exam. I then proceeded to go to DePaul Law School and graduated with highest honors. After graduating law school, I have worked as an accountant for a then big-six accounting firm, before moving on to corporate restructuring law at a top international law firm. I am currently a co-owner of the Garbis Law Firm and specialize in civil and criminal litigation. I also volunteer in the community. I am an usher at mychurch, and often coach various church and park district sports teams.
Gil Gibori (Member)
Profile available upon request.
Joel H. Raynes (Member)
My wife, Marsha and I are Wilmette residents and the parents of one child David, who is currently a senior at New Trier High School. My undergraduate degree was earned from Drake University, where I majored in sociology and also worked toward a graduate degree in guidance and counseling. I was a former coach for the Wilmette Eagle’s football team and also coached youth baseball in Wilmette. I currently work as a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in their Wilmette office. Formerly, I worked as a banker for 31 years. I am president of a Stock investment club and serve as a director of two Chamber of Commerce. I also am a member of Kiwanis Club of Skokie Valley. I was formerly President of the Avoca PTC for four consecutive years. I believe that my financial background allows me to be a contributing member of the finance committee. I am proud of having a role in maintaining and building Avoca’s excellence.
Sheryl A. Swibel (Member)
My husband, Larry, and I have lived in the Avoca District since 1983, and all three of our children attended school here. I am originally from Boston, and received my B.A. at the University of Rochester in psychology and education and my M.S. in Special Education at Vanderbilt University. I was a special education teacher in Chicago for a number of years and, after leaving the workforce, became active in the Avoca District. When my children attended Avoca schools, I volunteered regularly with the Avoca PTC. Later, I served on the Board of Education for 9 and a half years. While on the Board I chaired the Community Relations, Curriculum, Long Range Planning, and Policy Committees, and participated in the development of strategic plans for the District. In 2012, I was thrilled to be appointed to the Board again, to fill a vacated position. I was officially elected for a 2-year term in 2013 and was then elected for a 4 year term in 2015. The 8 year gap between my prior term and my current term has given me a unique perspective. I continue to value both short-term goals and long-term planning, and I recognize the importance of not only volunteering as a parent of an Avoca student, but also serving our District as a long-time member of our community. I am passionate about the hallmark of an Avoca education: not only a program of the highest quality conducted with fiscal responsibility, but one that encourages innovation to achieve 21st century best practices.
Jamie Taylor (Member)
My husband, Rob, and I have lived in Winnetka with our three children for the past 11 years. I am currently a stay-at-home mom and dedicated volunteer. I have achieved meaningful relationships with administration, teachers and parents due to my nine years of volunteer service to District 37. I also serve as Vice President of the Woodley Road Garden Club and previously served on the Board of the Chicago Dancing Festival and as Treasurer of Northfield Community Nursery School.
I graduated with a degree in Architecture from the University of California at Berkeley (1992 – 1995) and then returned to graduate school to earn an MBA from the University of Chicago (2000 – 2002). I started my career at LaSalle Bank where I worked for its loan syndications group. I was responsible for structuring the bank’s largest loans and selling off segments to other financial institutions (1995 – 2001). Later I joined Pekin Singer Strauss Asset Management as an equity analyst and portfolio manager (2001 – 2007).
My priority is to sustain the District’s reputation for academic excellence while safeguarding its financial security. I will work with other Board members and district administration to carry out the Mission, Vision and Values identified within the 2016 Strategic Plan. I believe my educational background and finance skills provide me with the tools to address the District’s aging facilities and navigate expected budgetary shortfalls and financing issues.
Rick Zelinsky (President)
My wife, Faith, and I are Northfield residents for the past eighteen years and are parents of two boys, whom both attended Avoca from Kindergarten through Eighth Grade. I am a technology professional by trade and, for the past three decades, have been fascinated by the unprecedented growth in availability, adoption and advancement of technology. I have been on the Avoca District 37 School Board for the past eight years, currently as the Board President and as Board Vice President from 2015-2017. I have had the pleasure to serve the Board as both a parent and, more recently, a general community member. My initial involvement with District 37 began in 2003 as a parent representative for the District Technology Committee. As a cross-functional team, we established the original long-term technology plan for the district, involving one of the most progressive initiatives (1:1 student-to-laptop) in district history. My three priorities for the board are: providing oversight and support of the recently created strategic plan, enhancing communication and “connectedness” with both parent and non-parent communities, and maintaining fiscal discipline including addressing the long-term plan for Avoca Center. It has been an honor to give back to the Avoca community through my Board work, and I look forward to continuing to share my passion for technology and focus on students while ensuring the best use of our taxpayers’ resources.