In Manitoba, every school board trustee strives to make their school division one of the best in the province. One that inspires its students to reach their full potential in a safe and respectful environment.
Over the years, in representation of my community, I have had the opportunity to meet some exceptionally talented people at the school level: students, parents, teachers, principals, educational assistants, bus drivers, custodians and librarians. At the division level, there are some of the best of the best employees: caring people who try very hard to put students at the centre, for it takes a well-organized team working together with all stakeholders, communities, and taxpayers to achieve this great school division.
Local voices are important to our democratic way of governing as diversity of thought can bring about positive change. Consequently, as the communities’ local representation, trustees try to listen to all these voices, take them into consideration, and set priorities. The good news is there are eight other trustees, a Superintendent, Secretary-Treasurer, and many other knowledgeable individuals to help make an informed decision. All who are extraordinarily dedicated to achieving what everyone desires - a better life for our children and grandchildren. It is reassuring to find like-minded colleagues that can help channel and clarify our thoughts.
As I reflect back over the years on what I have learned, the consultations with our communities that strongly voiced the importance of keeping our small schools in our communities comes to mind. Subsequently, the Board invested in resources to facilitate the installation of internet and video conferencing within our schools and communities. This was a major decision that has permitted the smaller high schools within the division to offer a wider course offering, which enables students to remain in their local community school. Video conferencing enables students from different schools to be in one “virtual” classroom with a teacher in another school, thus meeting the required number of students to justify a teacher and a class. Course offerings for the small schools have improved, but are still somewhat limited, as time and scheduling play their roles. However, MVSD is constantly working to expand this initiative.
The International Student initiative is another program I am very proud of, with our division as one of the most successful in the province. This program has introduced students from around the world to our students and has formed many lasting friendships for our students, parents and staff. Another outcome of this program is the benefit of extra money within our schools and our communities, which has enabled us to support additional employees within the schools. A requirement of the school board is that this program is self-sustaining and as a result has become part of who we are as a Division.
Over the years, I am proud to say that the MVSD School Board has focused on many different initiatives to help achieve the goal of a strong educational system – from high school apprenticeship programs to the consultations with parent councils, teachers, and the general public before the budget is finalized to a strong strategic planning foundation. The list does go on and on. Anyone who would like more information, please visit our website at mvsd.ca or for a hands on educational experience, run for a school board trustee. It is an experience that can reap many rewards.
As a retiring Trustee, I would encourage anyone who sees education as a way of improving our lives to consider running for a school board trustee. I have learned a great deal over the years and have enjoyed working with and representing our school division.
In closing, I would like to thank the communities, especially my ward consisting of Grandview, Gilbert Plains and Ethelbert, which have supported me over the years. I have been honoured to serve as a school board trustee for the Intermountain and Mountain View School Divisions.
On final thought: our environment is constantly changing and our children need the know-how and resources to be able to adapt to our ever-evolving world, and it is with a strong educational system that this can be achieved. Our children are our future.