Valerie Woodrum was thrilled when the Athens school district FFA Valerie Woodrum, Heather McArty, Cayla Keyesstudents attended a recent school board meeting and shared about a trip they took to Indianapolis and a college visit to the University of Illinois in Champaign.

“It was exciting to hear about their experiences, what they learned and having fun at the same time,” Valerie said.

Valerie, VP, Retail Operations and Process Improvement Manager at INB, is in her first year as a board member of the Athens School Board. She ran for election because of her long-held loyalty and devotion to the school district. By serving on the board, she hoped to learn more about the schools, invest in the students, and serve her community.

“I enjoy hearing from our principals about what is happening in our schools and how they, along with our great teachers, are continuingly finding ways to better the curriculum to help our students succeed,” she said. “I feel we all want to help our students academically, teaching them to be leaders and active members of our community! I have really enjoyed my time on the board and am learning a lot.”

Employees Encouraged to Participate

At Illinois National Bank, we empower and encourage our employees to immerse themselves in the communities where they work, from our downtown and Springfield branches to the branches in our outlying communities.

INB employees not only band together for bank-wide charitable initiatives but also step out individually to give their time and resources to causes they are passionate about, from nonprofit fundraisers to volunteer efforts like serving on school boards.

When Cayla Keyes, INB’s South Sixth Street branch manager, decided to run for the Pleasant Plains School Board, she wanted to make the community more aware of board happenings and get other community members involved in enhancing educational opportunities for the district’s children.

“The teachers and staff of our school district do an excellent job, and I wanted to work to nurture that legacy through the promotion of a positive working environment,” Cayla said. “Given the economic conditions and uncertainty of state funding, I also strive to promote fiscal responsibility and accountability by encouraging easy access to public information – especially expenditures of bond money and the annual budget process.”

Involved Even After Kids Graduate

Heather McArty recently stepped down from her post as president of the Oakwood School District, where she served for six years. She decided not to run for re-election because she believes term limits give others an opportunity to contribute, but she feels that her time on the Oakwood board was extremely rewarding.

“Prior to joining the board, I was involved in PTO, Booster Club, and the post-prom committees. So, when my older kids graduated, joining the board gave me the opportunity to continue lending my support to my community,” said Heather, INB’s Fairmount branch manager. “While on the board, I took advantage of Illinois Association of School Board (IASB) conferences and classes, and ultimately reached Master Board Member status. When I was nominated as President of our local board, I was both humbled and honored to accept that role. We accomplished a lot of important tasks during my tenure and made some very impactful changes.”

In November, Cayla had the chance to attend the IASB Joint Annual Conference, where she participated in a session dedicated to keeping the community informed via social media, which she hopes to apply to her board role. As a mother of three to an upcoming elementary student, a middle schooler, and high school senior, Cayla has a unique perspective affecting all three schools in the Plains district.

“Being on the board has helped me to learn new things, think in different ways, and create relationships that I will cherish forever. I truly enjoy serving my community in this capacity,” she said.