I had an extremely enlightening past week. Although we face some significant challenges, the first step in figuring out how to solve them is to try to understand them. Obtaining the correct knowledge is the key to figuring anything out and this week presented several great opportunities for me to learn.
On Tuesday, I was able to tour a local psychiatric hospital, The Pavilion, in Champaign. The staff at the Pavilion provides important mental health and substance abuse resources as well as other needs to the District. This tour was an important stop for me to learn a great deal about challenges that providers face. These challenges include payments through the Medicaid Managed Care System, navigating a complex bureaucracy, and locating the right funding streams as they seek to provide health care to the area.
I appreciate the hurdles these dedicated professionals overcome, and I will keep what I have learned in mind as we make critical decisions in Springfield. Access to Mental Health Resources has been an issue that has been important to me since my time as the Chairman of the Vermilion County Board and I appreciated the opportunity to discuss this important issue with the management of the Pavilion.
Education will always continue to be a priority of mine, so I was excited to be invited to act as “Principal for a day” at Rantoul High School this past Wednesday. I had the opportunity to spend the day job shadowing the Principal, Mr. Todd Wilson, at RTHS. I know that schools across Illinois face several challenging issues, and I have done my best to learn about these challenges from education professionals and parents in my district since being sworn into office.
My day spent at Rantoul High gave me another chance to learn and witness how RTHS is addressing these issues locally. I gained a new perspective on the more specific issues the school faces and seeing first-hand how they are overcoming these challenges. I was extremely impressed, especially since our school districts can sometimes be labeled unfairly in a negative light and usually that happens with a lack of understanding on what is really happening.
On Wednesday, I witnessed a team of dedicated professionals making decisions that will help one of the largest school districts in the 104th stay in front of challenges that continue to present themselves in the very dynamic social environment we find ourselves in these days. It makes me rededicate myself to making the best decisions possible for our educators. The highlight of the week was the hour and a half that I spent talking to and answering questions in front of Ms. Carsley’s Contemporary Issues Class.
The students thoroughly impressed me with their knowledge of pressing state issues and they certainly came prepared with some tough questions. They kept me on my toes answering their questions, which were asked just as well as any group of professionals I have been in front of since I have been a State Representative. It always makes me feel proud seeing young people getting so engaged at an early age. I love engaging with our youth and helping them learn as their passions grow. It gives me great hope and confidence in our future.
Rounding out the week was a seven-hour shift working over a grill, flipping pancakes at the annual Danville Kiwanis Pancake Day. The Danville Kiwanis Clubs have been serving delicious pancakes to thousands of customers in the community for years. In the process, they continue to raise a great deal of money to help local community efforts. It is a great venue to see and talk to a lot of members of our community, help a great team of dedicated individuals, and work for a great cause. I even got to eat a few pancakes for lunch. It is always a big effort and a lot of work, but it is such a rewarding day. Thank you to the Danville Kiwanis group for all the work they do in our community. Pancake Day represents what truly makes the 104th District a special place, and one that I am honored to represent!