When Bonnie and her husband Steve Shlensky moved to Deerfield in 1986 she was immediately recruited by the PTO. Little did she know she’d spend the next few decades dedicated to improving the local school system.
“My initial investment out of the workforce was in my kids’ education,” Shlensky said about stopping her career in retail to care for her children fulltime. Shlensky went on to serve as PTO President for Wilmot Elementary, Caruso Middle School and Deerfield High School before elected to the District 113 Board of Education in 2005.
“I love being in the school; the kids are amazing. I love being invited in by a teacher; I love going to things,” Shlensky said about her involvement.
This Milwaukee native has spent her fair share of time inside Deerfield schools. All three of her children attended District 109 and 113 schools.
“My kids are all really different so they all had really different high school experiences but they all had great experiences,” Shlensky said, which is one of the reasons why she decided to run for District 113’s Board of Education, which represents Deerfield and Highland Park High Schools. “I just wanted to make sure that other kids had access to the same experience that my kids had.”
Shlensky has always been a strong proponent for equality in education. While acting as Board President, she became extremely involved in College Bound Opportunities (CBO). The organization is a mentorship and scholarship program for economically disadvantaged students in District 113.
“I want to leave this place a little better than when I came in,” Shlensky stated about her goal as a Board member and volunteer in the community.
Shlensky said District 113 currently faces financial challenges and building issues due to age and obsolescence. “It’s always been a great place, but if you stand still for too long, surrounding areas can pass you by,” she commented and added the Board of Education is actively tackling these concerns. “In spite of it all, District 113 does a great job of providing for students and their families.”
When it comes to her family, Shlensky couldn’t be more thankful for what District 113 provided. “Everyone found their passion in some place in the building,” she said.
Shlensky’s oldest child Andy owns North Star Camp for Boys in Wisconsin and is enthralled with dealing with kids. His wife Vickie is also a DHS graduate and a resident at Lutheran General Hospital. Shlensky’s daughter Alyssa became very involved in the child development program while at Deerfield High School and is now a bilingual kindergarten teacher in Glenview. Her youngest daughter Jami acted as an aid to a student with special needs at DHS and is currently studying special education at the University of Illinois.
Besides her kids’ positive experiences, Shlensky remains committed to the Board because of everything she’s been able to learn. “We talk about our kids being continuous learners; I’ve learned more in the last eight-years than I have from a career,” she said about her time on the 113 Board and added “my passion for education has just grown 100 fold over the years.”
District 113 will be releasing Board member profiles in the following weeks in an attempt to familiarize community members with their elected school officials. Upcoming Board member profiles will all be posted on Dist113.org.