Sandra Swinkunas ends decorated public service career
BOLINGBROOK — When Sandra Swinkunas was elected to the Bolingbrook Village Board 20 years ago, she quickly realized the difference between expectations and reality.
"The biggest difference was the time that you must devote to all the causes and organizations," Swinkunas said reminiscently. "We are a team that tries to do as much as possible on the weekends and evenings. We want to do everything, and we end up going to most events."
In May, Swinkunas will step down from her village trustee post, two months after she is honored with the Best of Bolingbrook Business Lifetime Achievement award for her dedication to the Valley View School District, Bolingbrook Adventist Hospital, Westbrook Christian Church and Bolingbrook Village Board.
An Illinois State University and National Louis University graduate, Swinkunas moved to Bolingbrook in 1983 to pursue her teaching passion. She taught 11 years in Minooka and 24 years in the Valley View School District before retiring in 2004.
Swinkunas worked in Wood View Elementary's third grade "Challenge" program, an accelerated class in which she taught fourth-grade material to third-grade students.
In the early 1990's, she was approached by Bolingbrook Mayor Roger Claar, whose daughter Lindsey, was a student in Sinkunas' third-grade class.
Although she never considered running for office, Mayor Claar and his wife Pat Claar insisted that she would be a great voice of reason on the village board.
For the next 11 years, Swinkunas worked as a teacher by day and village trustee by night.
Swinkunas admits that there was a steep learning curve balancing the village work — and village paperwork — with her duties as a full-time Wood View Elementary School teacher, but the Bolingbrook resident explains that the last 20 have been immensely rewarding and humbling.
"I have met so many people and I have learned so much," Swinkunas said. "I work with an incredible group (on the village board) and I love being able to get out and meet the Bolingbrook residents. To be able to say that I made this community a better place is such an amazing gift."
She retired from Valley View School District nine years ago, ending her 25-year teaching career. Yet, Swinkunas frequently subs for Bolingbrook Schools.
"The Valley View district was very good to me," Swinkunas said. "The teachers and administrators continually make it a point to remain keyed in on the students. The teachers that I have worked with came early, stayed late and care about every child."
Swinkunas has also played an active role on the Bolingbrook Adventist Hospital Fundraising Committee. She is also the former vice president and fundraising chair of the Valley View Educational Enrichment Foundation and a dedicated Westbrook Christian Church member.
After leaving the village board, Swinkunas plans to travel to the Pacific Northwest and throughout Europe.
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