Putting Trust in Trustees

October 20th will conclude the current election season and will see new school boards elected in BC’s sixty school districts. Boards of Education are formed by elected officials known as trustees. Becoming a trustee is indicative of both a willingness to serve and of an ability to earn the public’s trust.  What do trustees do? The BCSTA website describes the role of trustees as follows:

“Trustees engage their communities in building and maintaining a school system that reflects local priorities, values and expectations. School trustees listen to their communities; guide the work of their school district; and set plans, policies and the annual budget. Reflecting the strength of local representation, boards report back to their communities on how students are doing: boards are directly accountable to the people they serve.

British Columbia is a large province with many communities, each having different priorities, needs and unique educational requirements. British Columbians elect their 60 boards of education to improve student achievement according to the diverse needs of these communities. As locally elected representatives, the trustees on these boards best understand their respective communities’ particular strengths, challenges and demands.”

As Superintendent, I work closely with the trustees. In addition to their governance role, trustees develop and mandate strategic planning. They also challenge, encourage and require  district employees to provide all our students an optimal learning environment. SD 60 is fortunate to have been served by excellent trustees, some of whom have been elected or acclaimed to multiple terms, but all good things do eventually come to an end. This fall’s election will bring significant change to the make up of our board.  Three of the current trustees are moving on to new challenges, and it is the nature of elected offices that contested seats can always see change via the ballot box. 

Our sitting trustees have always encouraged and welcomed interested citizens to get involved with governance. While continuity of service and board stability  have their advantages, renewal and active civic involvement are the lifeblood of elected institutions. Five of our seven trustee positions will be elected this week and it is vitally important that eligible voters in this district exercise their franchise at the ballot box and choose a good team to oversee the district for the next four years. 

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all those persons who have served or put their names forward as candidates for election. SD 60 is currently in a period of exciting growth and change. Having a board of keen, energetic and enthusiastic trustees will be vital to ensuring a bright future for our students, staff and stakeholders as they deal with education matters.

Gratitude in Learning

It’s fortuitous timing that the first statutory holiday weekend of the school year is Thanksgiving. After the initial rush of back to school, and a month of settling into routines, Thanksgiving comes at just the right time to allow everyone to catch their collective breath and to consider what they have to be grateful for. In fact, gratitude can be a powerful tool in learning, particularly effective in helping to focus positive student responses towards school and learning.

In his post “Gratitude: A Powerful Tool for Your Classroom” Owen Griffiths describes how having students participate in a gratitude journal helps “harness positive thinking to increase grades, goals and quality of life”. The act of recording gratitude in a journal has positive effects for both students and adults with some of the outcomes including better sleep, more positive outlooks on life and greater social satisfaction. Students are better able to cope with adversity and challenge when they can identify the positives in their lives rather than dwelling on things that bring them down.

Heart Mind Online suggests that gratitude can be appreciated by children as young as seven years of age.  Coupling gratitude with the act of giving thanks can help benefit students both ways. Research shows that expressed gratitude positively affects both the giver and the receiver of the thanks.  The observance of Thanksgiving provides us all with both a welcome holiday break and a reminder that gratitude is a gift that is always in season!