Why did you decide to run for school board trustee?
I was overwhelmed by the amount of people who contacted me encouraging me to run for Trustee. Across our board, there is great disappointment with the interest and level of engagement shown by our current Trustees for important issues facing our schools today. I want to lend my voice to important issues at a level where I can help make a difference, and to be part of a movement of positive change at our school board.
What innovative projects would enhance life in your community?
We have an opportunity to change the culture of our school board and how we see our role in the community. Schools are the hubs of their community, so let's create community-focused facilities where a wide variety of the needs can all be met in the same place with other organizations helping to share costs. Working with community partners, our school buildings could also be used as locations to provide:
Day, after school, evening and weekend child care;
Mental Health/Special Needs programming;
After school activities;
Adult Learning opportunities (technology, culinary, fitness classes);
Seniors & community programming; and,
Weekend utilization: clubs, sports activities, church services, and community events.
As a school board, we should be looking for partners in the community and alternate revenue streams to increase the use of our schools wherever we can. I would like to see new schools designed with this intended community-focused purpose to serve as a community hub to benefit everyone in our community.
What do you think are the greatest challenges your city faces?
One of the greatest challenges we face is mental health concerns in our children! More now than ever, children are exhibiting signs of stress, anxiety, depression and thoughts of suicide. Children can’t engage in any form of learning until they feel safe, cared for and comfortable in their environment. Students need to know they are supported and have people they can turn to at school if they need help.
I would like to see our Board become mental health champions promoting good mental health practices and illness prevention strategies in every classroom. In partnership with local resources, I would like to develop a “Mental Health First Aid” program at the elementary and secondary levels to ensure our students have the tools they need to:
Make healthy choices;
Develop vital social-emotional and health competencies;
Be able to recognize when they need help; and,
Develop life-long healthy mental health habits and behaviours.
Other than the official ways of communicating (minutes, municipal notes), how else will you reach out to your constituents to involve them in the decision making process?
This is the age of social media. We have so many amazing ways we can connect with people and I would love to see these forums used to reach out to our school communities. Parents are busy and don't always have time to attend meetings or read minutes/notes etc. Online surveys and polls, Facebook live events, social media Top 5/10 posts to help keep people informed are all easy ways to help involve as many people as possible in the decision making process. I would like to see our Trustees actively using Social Media to stay connected to our community and encourage innovative ways to provide information and collect important feedback in return.
What is your favourite thing to do in your city?
My favourite thing to do in our city is attend sporting, music and drama events put on by our students! We have so many amazing students at Lakehead Schools and it is so awesome to see them displaying their talents, learning lifelong skills and having fun! If you haven't been to a football game, a basketball game, a music concert or a drama play put on by one of our local schools, I would highly encourage you to come. I promise you won't be disappointed!