Events for March 2024

Whether uniting people, leading events or giving presentations, SPARK grows and promotes early childhood development all through Aurora. Keep current with our efforts by checking our calendar often. Come out and join us when you can too!

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Strong Start = Bright Future, Panel Discussion

March 24, 2021 @ 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm

Our panelist will share their reaction to the Strong Start = Bright Future report, their perspectives and insights about the state of early childhood in our local communities and in the State. Followed by a Q&A from the audience.
Moderator:  Jeanna Capito, Early Childhood Consultant and Co-author of Strong Start = Bright Future

Dr. Jeff Craig, Superintendent, West Aurora School District 129 and currently Chair of the Aurora Education Commission

Dr. Jeff Craig has served as the Superintendent of West Aurora School District 129 since 2014.  During this time, he led the community to successfully pass an $84.2 million-dollar referendum which has paved the way for an increase in the District’s fund balance and allowed for the completion of multiple building renovations, additions, and relocations.  In addition to his responsibilities as Superintendent, Dr. Craig also serves as chairman of the Aurora Educational Commission and serves as President of the John C. Dunham STEM School Governing Board.  Dr. Craig has a Bachelor of Arts in Education-Industrial Arts from Northern Illinois, a Master of Arts in Administration and Supervision from Loyola University Chicago, and a Doctorate in Education from the University of Illinois-Champaign.


George Davis, Executive Director (retired), Rockford Human Services and currently Co-chair of the Illinois Early Childhood Funding Commission

George Davis began working for the City of Rockford’s Head Start program in 1993, serving in various leadership capacities including as the city’s Executive Director of Human Services from 2003-2019 when he retired. He is a former member of the Illinois Early Learning Council’s (ELC) Executive Committee and the co-chair of the ELC’s Access Committee and a former Board member and Chair of the Illinois Head Start Association. He is the current Chair of the Early Learning Council of the Rockford Area.  He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from Illinois Wesleyan University.




Laurel Mateyka, Principal, P.H. Miller Elementary School, Plano Community Unit School District 88 and currently Chairman of Plano Area Alliance Supporting Student Success (PAASSS)

With insight from her 35 year career in education, parenting, and community organizing, Laurel’s unique perspective and experience provide the background and professional network needed to accelerate community collaboration and systems building. For Laurel, a former high school math teacher, solving problems is fun, exciting, and ‘all in a day’s work’. Her experience as a community organizer in Park Forest, IL; Vice President of the Matteson Elementary School District 162 Board of Education; President of the Plano Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors; and Plano CUSD 88 school administrator inform her approach to problem solving, strategic planning, and goal setting.

She has been able to positively impact families and communities by using her experience and knowledge of resources, services, and support available to children and families to set a strong foundation for academic success and family advocacy. Laurel believes that effective leaders set the tone and create a culture that yields results by developing collective efficacy and initiative through collaboration, trust, interdependence, and empowerment. She brings a track record of integrity, creativity, and passion to every project and she shows each team member how to reconnect with what matters most so they can achieve any result together. Using her background and experience in education, public service, and community outreach, Laurel Mateyka unites diverse stakeholders to solve complex problems. Laurel doesn’t just say “It takes a village to raise a child”; she lives it.


Tricia Sabathne, Child and Family Educator, St. Charles Community Unit School District 303 and Partnership Director of the St. Charles Early Childhood Collaboration

Tricia Sabathne works at the Fox Ridge Early Childhood Center in St. Charles CUSD #303 as both a preschool teacher and a Child and Family Educator. She is the Collaboration Director for the St. Charles Early Learning Partnership, a new collaborative formed in the summer of 2019. Passionate about working alongside and together with families to ensure every child succeeds, she is in her 23rd year as an early childhood educator


March 24, 2021
1:00 pm - 2:30 pm



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