FVSD has three main priorities: Numeracy, Literacy and Connectivity. Speaking to these priorities – what are your goals for our schools?
The School Board decided about five years ago to make “the basics” of numeracy and literacy our priorities. In these priorities we have focused strategies and resources on building strong literacy and numeracy skills in our students at all grade levels but with a special focus on the early grades. When students are able to master literacy and numbers skills their ability to deal with all other subjects will be strengthened as will their ability to continue to enter the work force or further education after graduating. I feel that we must continue to focus on these priorities through the ongoing support of our teachers through training, providing resources, and by encouraging them to collaborate with and support each other in the growth of these priorities. In the third priority of Connectivity I believe we are working to create positive dynamic learning environments for our children and working environments for our teachers in which students can develop a life-long love of learning and confidence in their own unique skills and perspectives in finding their place as productive citizens. I believe very much in these priorities and will continue to encourage and support their ongoing development in our schools.
How will you help advance these goals?
I feel that one of the most important things the Board has done in regard to these goals is to decide that these are long-term goals that will take effort and dedication over a number of years to bring them to the level we want. In the past there were new goals set every year. This created confusion, but also, the goals often changed before they could be properly developed. I will support this strategy of sticking to these three priorities while recognizing that some strategies within these priorities will evolve. I believe it is extremely important both that we support our teachers in their work in carrying out these strategies and to encourage their input into the implementation of our programs in the classroom.
What ideas do you have to move education forward in northwestern Alberta over the next four years?
I think that historically we have been forgotten or overlooked in our remote corner of Alberta. However, over the past term we have made our presence known in the world of Alberta Education. We have consistently lobbied for resources and programs that could benefit our region. One example is our lobbying for a Northern Living Allowance for our teachers like that which other provincial employees receive. We have also recognized that we have some unique challenges and conditions in our region, and that we must come up with unique solutions on our own. Our work in developing our 3 priorities is an example of this. We have achieved enough success in our work in the Literacy priority that we have been recognized provincially and get asked by other Boards to share some our experiences. We are the cutting edge in our Literacy priority and I will support the ongoing work of our School Division to lead the way. This frontier attitude of “rolling up your sleeves and getting the job done because no one else is going to do it for you”, is something that has always appealed to me about living in this part of the world, and I will continue to promote this approach at the Board table.
As a Trustee, what governance issues do you hope to work on during your term?
Over the past term our Board has had to deal with quite a number of very difficult issues. One thing I am very proud of is the level of collaboration that has gone into all the decisions we have made at the Board table. There is a great deal of conflict and polarization in our world over many issues, including in our own region. I believe that the School Board must work harder than ever to be a model of cooperation and unity. We have one common goal and that is for the success of each and every one of our students. Around the Board table we must be diligent with keeping this goal in the forefront in all our decisions.
Tell us a little about yourself – what is your connection to the region?
I started my working life as a teacher in St. Mary’s School in Fort Vermilion which is my wife’s home town. I never thought I would ever leave teaching, but my dad and a family acquaintance convinced my wife and I to purchase the Super A grocery store in High Level. I grew up in a family of store owners so the transition was not too drastic! After 12 years we sold the store and I returned to University obtaining a Physiotherapy degree. I am a [Physiotherapist] working in the High Level and Fort Vermilion Hospitals and the La Crete Long Term Care. I have been fortunate to have had three careers, each of which I have enjoyed very much. I was raised in a family that greatly values contributing to one’s community and in working to make it a better place. I have tried over the years to live up to these values. I believe that working on the School Board is one of the greatest ways one can serve one’s community. I sincerely hope to be given one more opportunity to serve my community and to be a voice for all our children and their families on the School Board.