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2014 TVDSB Candidate Survey - Brenda Ryan

On September 14th, I emailed the London candidates for Thames Valley District School Board (TVDSB) Trustee.  As outlined in a previous blog post, this was done to provide more exposure to this important position and to give Londoners an opportunity to get more insight into the candidates.

Brenda Ryan - Candidate Wards 7,8,9,10,13
In your blog you asked why Trustees haven’t sent out flyers and had their signs displayed throughout the wards.  Well it might be because with over 120 candidates running in this municipality election our placards or signs get very little space or attention.  The media is negligent in not allowing school board trustee candidates the same published articles related to the awareness of pertinent issues.  Then there is the cost of advertising in relation to the tiny honorarium one receives if they win.  We have to address five wards while a Council candidate only covers one.  This can make it cost prohibitive for some capable dedicated candidates.

I have committed more than 25 years volunteering to improve the quality of life for children and youth.  I have contributed at every level of government and as an individual and as a member of multiple organizations.  I am a recipient of a Queen Elizabeth Commemorative Award from the Governor General of Canada and one last year in Ontario by the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration.  It is with this lifelong dedication and devotion thatI offer my commitment, full time, over the next four years.  There were frustrating articles regarding the issues present at the School board level that provoked by jump into the race earlier this year. 

 Now to answer your questions:

Why do you want to be a school board trustee?
I am committed to working with the students, their family and the school board to provide input on the flaws of the present individual child’s curriculum and articulate the necessity of flexibility in the forming of a child’s education program.  According to our Charter of Rights and Freedom in Canada we are all equal.   However 40% of the students in Ontario that have a recognized disability have been asked by their school principal to stay home certain days or half days because they hadn’t been provided the budget to educate ‘those’ children. This was reported in the Toronto Star in April 2014.  Students with disabilities can accomplish as much, or more, than some in our school system…if only given the chance.  Employers have statistics that prove they have much higher employment successes when given the chance than a lot of able body employees.  We just have to open our eyes.  Change must be made from within the system.

What do you consider to be the most important role of a school board trustee?
School Board Trustees should not be part-timer residents who attend the various Trustee evening meetings only.  There are presently 35 subcommittees that happen generally during the business hours when an employed Trustee could not participate.  It is also necessary for the various schools under their umbrella to see their Trustee on site, in the school meetings, participate with students at special achievements or commemorative events and at their graduation.   Parents should receive a return call as quickly as possible when they phone their Trustee.  Families rely on Trustees to be their advocate when all else has failed.

What do you believe to be the most important issue for the TVDSB to address over the next four years?
There are several important issues to be addressed by the TVDSB over the next 4 years.  The elementary school closings that have provoked such reaction in the community will be transferring into the secondary school level.  Students and families deserve a Trustee who has a proven record of successful negotiating skills to address these contentious issues and represent them.   Mental health has now come to the forefront of vital issues to be dealt with in the school system.  Bullying can be one area that cannot be ignored or minimized in severity.  A successful Trustee should be available to attend the meeting during business hours to represent the community’s position on programs and recommendations.   

At the same time the Trustee addresses the areas of strife they must also be engaged in the positive activities and initiatives of students, schools or the community.  A successful Trustee must be seen.

What skills and experience do you have that qualify you to be a school board trustee?
I have worked in many capacities on boards and committees over the years.  I can present a position effectively during negotiations and exploration of ideas.   I have a proven track record as a leader.  I have held the position of Chair of Second Base Youth Shelter in Toronto, former Chair of London’s Accessibility Advisory Committee, former vice Chair of Independent Living London and founder of P.E.P., a family support group dealing with high risk youth.  In London I created the Adaptive Cooking Nutrition program that teaches person with disabilities about nutrition and success in the kitchen.  Over the years I also sat on advisory committees at Queen’s park representing families as well as many other wonderful opportunities.   It is my belief that these skills and knowledge will allow me to provide the community with the best Trustee they deserve.

How can voters get in touch with you for more information?
Because I am well know in certain areas of the community I have had overwhelming encouragement from them.  For those people who do not know me, there has only been a few requests for information to date.  But I'm always available and ready to answer their call.