At the annual meeting of the IARSS Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools, held in Springfield, the association honored Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White with its highest award, “The Friend of Education Award.” Secretary White was recognized for his work to keep students safe while riding school busses to and from school. White's office said Illinois currently holds the record of being the largest state with the longest-running, fatality-free record. White, meanwhile, is the longest serving secretary of state in Illinois history.
"He has pioneered efforts to work with schools through his incredible robot, Toby Tire," said Dr. Marc Kiehna in describing what the association referred to as White's "crowning achievement.
"Secretary White has advocated for school bus safety his entire time while serving as Secretary of State," Kiehna added. "His policies have been instrumental in reducing school bus accidents while transporting children to and from school every day."
White began focusing on school bus safety after loading zone fatalities spiked during the eight years prior to his election as secretary of state, when 14 students were killed in loading and unloading zone accidents.
White has served as secretary of state for nearly 13 years and has won re-election four times. He was a public school teacher and administrator at Chicago Public Schools for 33 years before being elected to the Illinois General Assembly, where he served for 16 years before. He then was elected as the Cook County Recorder of Deeds in 1992 and winning re-election to that office four years later. "Secretary White has continued to be an advocate for children, public education and the safety of getting kids to and from school," Kiehna added.
White is also well known for founding the "Jesse White Tumblers" in 1959. The acrobatic troupe of low-income youth travel the world to perform at National Basketball Association, the National Football League and Major League Baseball games as well as at business and other sporting events year-round, including colleges and universities. More than 13,000 young men and women have participated in the program since its inception.