Omar Salem, D65 board candidate, talks social equity and fiscal responsibility in schools


Seeger Gray/Daily Senior Staffer

Omar Salem. Salem is running for election to the Evanston/Skokie School District 65 Board of Education.

Camille Haines, Reporter

Omar Salem, an Evanston/Skokie School District 65 parent, said he’s consistently been frustrated with how the district communicates with parents, students and the community. 

That’s one of the issues he’s hoping to address if elected to the Board of Education. He hopes to communicate through as many types of media as possible, including in-person meetings, Zoom calls and email lists. 

My priority would be to improve communication from the district,” Salem said. “The district needs to be more explicit and intentional about how information is communicated.”

Along with stronger communication at the district level, Salem’s campaign for District 65 Board of Education emphasizes fiscal responsibility in schools.

Salem has degrees in business education and English education, and is now getting a Master of Business Administration degree in school finance, which he hopes to leverage to better serve the community fiscally as a school board member.

His experiences have also made him passionate about social justice and equity in the classroom.

At Niles North High School, Salem has worked as an English Language Learner and business teacher as well as an athletic coach and special education teaching assistant. 

“What I hope to do is make sure all students do not just have the same opportunities but the opportunities they need,” Salem said.

Niles North history teacher Pankaj Sharma said he believes Salem’s energy and positivity would be a great asset to the school board. 

After working alongside Salem at Niles North for over ten years, Sharma said he’s seen firsthand what Salem can bring to the school board. 

“Omar is positive, talented, collaborative and passionate about helping students fulfill their potential,” Sharma said. 

Salem also emphasized the importance of inclusivity in the classroom. In October 2021, Salem co-authored an article on the importance of using students’ correct pronouns in the classroom. 

The article outlines the best practices educators can take to provide a safe space for students to express themselves. These practices included explicitly asking students for their pronouns and using the pronouns students identify with.

“When students are affirmed, when students aren’t worried about being judged and criticized, they’re gonna learn better,” Salem said.

Andrea Abonce, a former student of his, said Salem always worked to help students and their families, even outside the classroom. 

Salem went as far as to help Abonce and her family buy a house. Using his real estate license, Salem helped her family navigate through the entire process. 

“(We’re) new to this country and never having done anything like that,” Abonce said. “He always listened to our needs and concerns and was patient.”

Salem, who serves on Evanston’s Equity and Empowerment Commission, said he wants to build upon his community involvement to increase communication between schools and Evanston as a whole.

Looking forward, Salem said he hopes his prior work in and out of the classroom will resonate with the District 65 voters. 

“He is someone you can trust,” Abonce said. “He is someone who will listen to your concerns and be there when you need him to be there.”

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Twitter: @camille_haines