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.
Here are my answers to your survey. Thank you again for soliciting this information and for promoting the importance of voting for school board trustees.
Why do you want to be a school board trustee?
I am a parent of 2 school aged children. I have run into unjust policies in the school system that have affected my oldest child. Luckily, I was able to meet with the teachers, principal and support staff to advocate for my child's needs. I know that is not always possible for all parents, so I felt that being a school trustee I could a) advocate for parents in an effective manner and b) help shape policies so that children's unique needs are met without the need for advocacy. I feel the system should be flexible enough to work with all the various diverse needs of children. For this to happen it requires re-educating teachers and support staff on how to respond to various circumstances.
What do you consider to be the most important role of a school board trustee?
I think a school board trustee must be open minded and empathetic. They need to listen openly to their constituents and have the ability to articulate the needs of their constituents in a concise and informative way that will help bring other trustees on board in addressing the concerns. As a trustee, we are only one person and for change to happen at a board level you need the support from the majority of the board. So in short, the most important role of the school board trustee is as a knowledgeable and effective advocate.
What do you believe to be the most important issue for the TVDSB to address over the next four years?
I believe the issues around declining enrollment and school infrastructure are important issues. I have heard from constituents about their concerns over school closures as well as the inability of the school board to work with local municipalities in assessing the impact of school closures on communities.
One thing I have heard from many parents and professionals is how restrictive the school transfer policy is. The rules are fairly rigid over students going to a school outside their area. One professional has told me how difficult it is to move a sick child to a school that either has more resources for them, or is closer to where they have treatment, etc. . . What is convenient for schools, is not necessarily always in the best interest of the child.
I have volunteered on various boards and have worked in the non-profit sector for over 10 years. I understand the importance of policies. I also look at children and see a vast diversity in subject strengths, behaviours, learning style and health/disabilities. I believe our system can do a much better job at recognizing that diversity and working with the students in a way that focuses on their strengths and celebrates improvement in and the hard work towards improvement in the areas they are weak.
What skills and experience do you have that qualify you to be a school board trustee?
Firstly, I am a parent of 2 school-aged children. One is in FDK and the other is in the grade 6 gifted program. I have experience advocating for my children. Secondly, I have board of directors’ experience. I am currently the Treasurer of the board at my housing co-operative. I have been president of the board at two separate housing co-operatives in the past. Through my past work at United Way Elgin-St. Thomas, I worked very closely with the Board of Directors on many issues. Currently I am working with youth at Youth Opportunities Unlimited. I also volunteer with youth at YOU and at my local church. I consider myself open minded and empathetic. I am also passionate about human rights and have the ambition to advocate for children. To round out my skills, I am a strategic thinker. I tend to do a lot of research and use the knowledge I gain to apply it to the bigger picture.
How can voters get in touch with you for more information?