- Why do you want to be trustee?
I am running for Ward 3 HWDSB Trustee so that I can use my experience in mental health, inclusion, and promotion of a healthy environment to help bring out the very best in our students. Many years ago, I graduated from Scott Park. I can’t tell you how excited I am to help build the new school in our ward into a centre of excellence for academics, trade preparation, sports, and school and community spirit. As a university graduate, from a family of excellent tradesmen, I understand the value of education no matter a child’s future career.Healthy children need healthy schools. As a founding member of Hamilton Blue Dot our group helped Hamilton become the first city in Ontario to declare its’ citizens Right to a Healthy Environment. I encourage everyone to believe in Hamilton as a leader in environmental health, and I will be certain to make this a priority for Ward 3 students.
One of my own personal values is inclusiveness. Hamilton is a city for everyone who wants to raise a family and make our home even better. As past VP, and current member of the board of the Children’s International Learning Centre I am dedicated to making sure Hamilton students learn about other cultures, religions, and races and that every parent and every student in our system is treated with respect and dignity.
Our family’s own tragedy with mental illness lead to the death of our son Erich in 2013. After a year in grief, loss, and isolation we knew we needed to do something to save ourselves, and to honour Erich’s memory. We created Erich’s Cupboard to help collect food and clothing for the Eva Rothwell Centre and other local food banks. I wanted to do more to increase mental health and suicide awareness and was invited to attend the Neighbourhood Leadership Institute course on community engagement. From this we began holding safeTALK suicide awareness courses free of charge to the public. And we will continue to do even more as we learn and grow. Our student’s mental health is very important to me, and I will do everything I can to incorporate what we’ve learned into our schools.
A strong community needs strong schools. And strong schools need a strong community. I intend to use what we have learned building Erich’s Cupboard and working effectively and cooperatively with city council to bring the community into our schools, and to bring our schools into our community. I will do everything in my power to support the many parents and students in our community who have come to me to voice their concerns about what is currently happening in the school system. There are gaps and barriers where there shouldn’t be, and I want to be an advocate and partner so that we can, together, ensure that our children are receiving the best possible education possible.
2. How do you intend to ensure the needs and concerns of your community are respected and addressed?
As a long-time community connector in Ward 3, I will continue to speak with, listen to, and advocate for my fellow community members. I believe it is essential for a trustee to be deeply entrenched in their community, and I have been for over 20 years. Through my experience volunteering in a multitude of community initiatives I have gotten to know many parents, students, and fellow community members and I am available 24/7 to pick up the phone and listen to their concerns and will advocate on their behalf to ensure their concerns are addressed promptly. Parents are the initial student advocates, and I will work to break down the barriers that they and their children face within the public school system. The process starts with listening and it ends with each parent having their voice heard and their concerns addressed to their satisfaction. There is nothing more important to me than ensuring the needs and concerns of our community are respected and addressed.
- How can trustees support parent volunteers and parent voice at the schools?
The first step in supporting parent volunteers and parent voice at the schools is to be present- at every parent council meeting, every school initiative and event, and every school graduation. I believe a trustee’s role is to listen, to advocate, and to communicate the messages from our parent voices to the board and the best way to encourage that trust from parents and volunteers is to be there to listen. Just as I have always done in my community, I will be that advocate, that connector, to ensure every parent voice is heard. Being a parent today is no easy feat, I know this both from experience and from listening to parents in my community. Schools can sometimes fall behind when it comes to ensuring the issues our students face in today’s world are addressed. I am committed to remaining current by being available, by being present, and by demanding excellence from our system so that parents today can rest assured that their kids are receiving the best possible education and support that they need in order to prosper.