Great things happening at Madeira Park Elementary

Check out the Local this week – an article on Madeira Park Elementary, written by yours truly.

http://www.thelocalweekly.ca/madeira-park-elementary-school/

The original was about 500 words which was difficult enough- I was edited down to 300.

I’ve also pasted the published article below.

 

Located in the north section of our school district, Madeira Park Elementary, one of our smallest schools, provides education primarily for Egmont and Pender Harbour areas, one of the largest physical catchment areas in our district. The staff at MPES is “excited to dive in and start implementation” of new curriculum that is being rolled out in B.C. schools. The school has been immersed in experiential learning (learning through experiences) to support new learning outcomes. MPES students expect to go on whole-school field trips that take them to the Port of Vancouver to study ecology and economy; Grouse Mountain to study bears and ecology; or Porpoise Bay to see the fragile salomonid ecosystem.

Next spring will be the third annual “Week Without Walls”, dedicated to outdoor experiences and environmental studies in the Pender Harbour Community. It continues rain or shine! Fine Arts Week was started last year to balance the academics and athletics. The school played host to painters, sculptors, musicians and actors over a week to introduce students, staff and parents to different media in which artists can express themselves. The students had an opportunity to work with Jeraldo Avila and learn about acrobatics and perform in a school-wide circus.

A small school encourages the staff and students to work in teams. This year, there will be two grade 4, 5, 6 classrooms that will be learning in big picture themes, and then splitting into smaller groups for individual attention. Madeira Park Elementary ensures highly effective student learning takes place for all students by providing special support in literacy and numeracy. Principal Krangle is a true example of how one person can inspire a community. Described by outgoing PAC Chair Mandy West as “a supportive principal who helps to make it all happen”, Krangle has a gift for encouraging’ involvement of parents. Two years ago, I found myself playing the older version of my daughter’s character in the school’s musical adaption of “The Polar Express”. Quite the treat for me. There is hope to launch a musical this year, and with incredibly supportive parents and local community, it is sure to once again play to a packed house.

As a trustee, it is extremely exciting to watch the engagement of students, staff and community around education. As a parent of former students, I’m a bit jealous that my kids aren’t a few years younger.


‪#‎sunshinecoastca‬ ‪#‎penderharbour‬ ‪#‎sd46‬ 

Lessons from Chief Louie

I had the pleasure of listening to Chief Clarence Louie of the Osoyoos Indian Band speak on September 12 at the Rockwood Centre in Sechelt. Chief Louie’s visit was part of the “pro-voc-a-talks” series that the Coast Community Builders Association has initiated to encourage “exploring points of view”.

The Osoyoos Indian Band, under the leadership of Chief Louie, have one of the most successful business plans for a First Nation in all of North America.  They have established their own business development corporation and are a major economic player in the Okanagan.

Here are a few of the great takeaways from the Chief’s talk.

  • You can tell a leader by how they spend their time.
    • watch what a leader focuses on during their day.   Are they spending their time on useless tasks; are they working hard, side by side with their team?
  • Side by side, not dependent
    • When the Osoyoos Indian band signed an agreement with the province, they presented a token to the government to symbolize the new relationship.   The token had two parallel lines.  The parallel lines symbolized the new relationship – side by side, equal, not dependent on the other.  Chief Louie said that if you expect others to support you, you must support them.  He regularly encourages their golfing members to use the other courses in the area, to gas up at the station across town.
  • Move from a culture of entitlement to a culture of performance.
    • There is too much of a sense of entitlement in society today.  You should not expect to have things handed to you.   We need to move to expecting performance from each other.
  • The economic horse pulls the social cart
    • If you want to increase the programs you have to support your community, it’s necessary to improve the economy within it first.  This ensures that you have the financial resources available.  The better the economy is performing, the more you will be able to provide for your community.
  • Success is a study
    • “Go to school” on things that you want to know more about.   This is how the  Band learned about wineries, golfing and how to run succesful businesses within their community.
  • Anytime you have the chance, take a millionaire out for lunch. And pay for it.
    • Use the time with them to ask them questions about the lessons they’ve learned.  Learn from them.
  • Don’t wait for Perfect.
    • Perfect will never happen.  If you wait for perfect, you will be waiting forever.
  • There are no guarantees
    • In the end, there is no guarantee.  Weigh the pluses and minuses and make your decision based on the best information that you have.

At the end of Chief Louie’s talk, he left us with the following:

“You brought us whiskey during the Fur Trade; we’ll get you to sign our land back through NK’MIP first class wine.”

 

To learn more about Chief Clarence Louie and Osoyoos Indian Band, check out the band’s website at http://oibdc.ca/

More information about the CCBA and their initiatives can be found at http://coastbuilders.ca/

 

Dawn of a New Era? I hope so!

With the dawn of this day, we receive the exciting news of a tentative deal reached between @BCTF and @BCPSEA. The most incredible and promising part of this news is that it was a NEGOTIATED settlement. Negotiation requires both sides to be actively engaged in the process and willing to work together to make a deal happen. There is hope that this is the dawn of new, improved relationships for Education in this province.

Yes, this deal comes much later than any of us like, and although details have not yet been publicized, the bigger picture is a freely negotiated deal was reached.

Many people deserve our gratitude in this, from the mediators involved in this round-Mark Brown, Stephen Kelleher and, of course, Vince Ready; the bargaining team and BCTF table officers, led by Jim Iker for the employees; The BCPSEA team led by Peter Cameron for the government; and for the voice of boards of education (the true employers) at the table, Alan Chell and Silas White.

The process is to now rebuild our relationships and get our students back in schools. There are many logistics issues to work out and I have faith in our team in SD46 that this will move smoothly and as seamlessly as is possible.

Thank you to all of our teachers, support staff,principals and senior management for your continued dedication to our students on the Sunshine Coast. Thank you to the students and parents that call our district home.

Poem from a Negotiation Observer

A hotel deep in Richmond
Is where public focus lies today
We all share the bond
Of waiting to hear what they’ll say

The Hotel corridors, piled
Full of Media, waiting to glimpse
Their Stories soon to be filed
On web, telly and prints

A star of sports, song or movie?
Maybe even Mario Andretti!
No wait, could it be…
The one and only Vince Ready

He crosses the hall to a closed door
To the reporters, a nod of head
They clamour for news of “score”
But he silently enters room instead

The summer that would not end
And continues through this fall
Our kids to school, we’d like to send.
the talks persist, movements small.

At least the teams are at the tables
And even if they don’t share the same space
and continue to use media for their fables
There may be agreement to sign with grace

the public, divided.. a casualty of circumstance
Community, citizens, politicians posturing
Each side shouting their own political rants
Not aware of the bad feelings this is fostering

Our Students are caught in the middle
their futures – clouds- hang in mid-air
To them, this matter is not little
To gamble their lives, not fair

Education in this province should excite
New Curricula, a landscape so opportune
Local boards that take great delight
In the staff and students in each school room.

and outside the Richmond hotel, the Public waits
glued to TV, Facebook and Twitter
to hear of the teachers and their contract fates
Parents, desperately trying not to be bitter

Whether you look from left or right
Your politics do not matter
It’s for our kids we must fight
But not leave each other in tatter

The balance of the modern world is found
in the harmony of success
even arguments can be a sweet sound
In their tangled, ugly mess

At the end of this… we rebuild
relationships, community, schools, our self
We try and forget of animosity that filled
But wait for the next contract to come off shelf

Summer Bucket List

I was challenged to make a “Summer Bucket List” – things that I wanted to do before the summer was over.

First on the list:
1) Stand up on a paddleboard. I’ve gone out a few times over the past couple of years, but have been too scared to stand up.. worried about falling in. So I’ve knelt the whole time. I don’t recommend doing so….. hard on the knees.

2) Spend at least ten nights off Coast before September 15th… This is to force me to take some time off.

3) Run. I miss running.. I haven’t gone for any kind of run since I broke my ankle in 2009. That’s a long time.

and just to ‘force’ the issue…

4) Register for a 5km run
and
5) Register for the BMO April Fools’ Run… this is a half-marathon between Gibsons and Sechelt. It’s held the first Sunday in April.. Last (and first) time I did it was in 2007. Time to start training!

6) Find Five heart-shaped rocks. As of July 13, I’ve found twelve. The first day I sat on the beach, I found five… in under twenty minutes..

7) Wear a dress or skirt once a week. Too many times, I get dressed in the morning and then change because I “don’t like the way it looks”. I need to challenge myself out of my comfort zone. It’s a tough battle. See The Elephant in My Head

For the kid in me… and for my kids too..
8) Go to the Zoo. I haven’t been to a Zoo in years. My kids haven’t been to one in a long time either, plus one of my cousins is getting married at the Calgary Zoo later this month. I’m not able to make it to the wedding, but I can go to the Zoo in her honour.

9) Go to Playland
and
10) Go to the PNE. I would love to walk around the displays and just take a look around.

In September of last year, I realized that I had not gone swimming ONCE during the entire summer.
Hence, the next four items:
11) Swim in six different lakes in July
12) swim in six different lakes in August
13) Swim in the ocean five times in July
14) Swim in the ocean five times in August
(the last two will likely happen when I try to stand up on the paddleboard)

15) Hike the Skookumchuck. I have lived on the Sunshine Coast for 20 years (officially on September 13th, 2014) and have yet to see the rapids. I’ve heard them, but have not gone far enough to see them..(my kids were much smaller, and did not want to go any further on the trail. We were close to the end of the trail. So very close.)

16) Write a short story. I love to write. Before I had kids, I would write short stories, poetry, song lyrics…. you name it. Now I barely find the time to read, let alone write. Am I any good? Does it really matter – as long as I do it!

17) Listen to a busker play for fifteen minutes and give them $20.. There are very talented musicians all around us and I never take the time to stop and listen…or give them a few cents.

And here’s a few that didn’t make the original list because they came up by surprise, but are now complete!

18) Jump off the rocks at Katherine Lake.. I have the bruises (and sore body – I belly-flopped) to prove it!

19) Attend the Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Arts – technically, haven’t attended yet, but I have purchased my Sunday Pass!! I’m really excited to be going; it’s my first time, plus Grant Lawrence is one of the featured authors on that day! The Festival is August 14-17 .. more info at http://www.writersfestival.ca

20) Spend some time with my bestie Vicky and her family… they were able to take some days and come out for a visit. We had such a great time! now to just spend some time with my other besties.. (you know who you are)

As I type these, I realize that there are so many other things that I’d like to do this summer..

21) Random acts of kindness… we all need more of these. I think one a day is a good start..

22) Attend a farmer’s market at least five times over the summer.. So many of our local farmers, producers and artisans depend on these events to help grow their business. Buy Local!

23) Spend more time doing what my daughters want to do. ‘Nuff said..

24) Spend more time with my husband..

25) Listen to music more often… and different types. I’ve had everything from John Lennon to Blake Shelton to Paul Simon to Eminem playing tonight. Eclectic.

So there’s my list (before I keep adding to it). What would you put on yours?

Chatelech Secondary Graduation Speech June 25,2014

I had the pleasure of attending the Chatelech Graduation ceremonies on behalf of the Board on Wednesday evening.

Here’s my speech to the Grads.

***
Family and friends, honoured guests, staff, community members,
Graduates.

It is with great honour that I bring you greetings and congratulations on behalf of the Board of Education of School District 46, Sunshine Coast. As trustees, we are so very proud of all of our students and their successes, many of which we get to celebrate this week – graduation.
As trustees, it our students that drive us to better for you all.

Chatelech is home of the Eagles. The Eagle is a fitting mascot for this school. From its physical location, perched on a cliff in the trees, to the nesting support of the incredibly dedicated teachers and staff that protect, nurture and guide you on your educational journey that allows you all to soar in the great sky.

You are an amazing group. I know but a few of you personally, but I have witnessed your great talents and prowess for the boardroom. We hear of the athletic achievements, the academic successes, of the kind hearts and great leadership.

As a Board, we thank you for lending us one of your own to become one of us, sitting at the governance table to give Students voice in their education. Maya, it has been a true delight to have you as a colleague and watch and support you as you have advocated for your peers and successors in our province and across our country.
Thank you Maya.

So, what’s next? I know that you have all been asked this question at least once. Is it university, work, or are you going to find an air current and glide?
The great thing about being an Eagle is that you can choose.
You can soar as high as you wish and with your strong wings you will fly far.

We are so proud of you all, watching as you spread your wings away from us: your family and friends, your teachers, the community that has watched you hatch in to these beautiful magnificent beings.

Please know that your nest on the Sunshine Coast will still always welcome you home.

E-NOUGH

So here we are.

The last week of school marks the second week of a full out strike by the BC Teachers Federation.

Lock out dates by the employer for secondary teachers start on June 25, and for elementary teachers later this week.

Exams for senior secondary students have gone through but due to the complexities of marking, the essay portions were dropped.

Graduation ceremonies have been moved to alternate locations due to picket lines.

The finger pointing continues.

The impasse more entrenched than ever.

Rhetoric bouncing back and back between the government and teachers’ union through social media channels, the mainstream media and duelling press conferences is wearing thin on us all. This has become a full out political assault on either side as they seek to discredit each other and gain the public’s support.

One of the most disappointing things that has happened in recent days is the politicization of the BCEd Plan. The government is using this formally non-partisan site to circulate paid messages such as the following tweet : @bcedplan: Teachers deserve a fair wage increase but it needs to be affordable. http://t.co/IDeo6dA6vO http://t.co/lO6eIkHChH #bced

Regardless of your personal opinions on salaries and wage increases, this is uncalled for. The BCEdPlan site was meant to be non-political and welcoming for all. The PAID advertisements to discredit a group of professionals that are stakeholders within this plan is unconscionable.

The BCTF is a union and an advocacy organization for their membership. The leadership within their structure is expected to lobby hard for their teachers. But they are going too far with the negative messaging as well.

Stop the public bashing of one another. No more bargaining in the media. Do you want a facilitator? I have children that are trained in anti-bullying through the WITS program.

Both sides need to get back to the table and find the common ground to get a freely negotiated deal; a deal that is fair and gives stability to education in this province for whatever term the parties can mutually agree upon.

Grad Speech for SCAS June 23, 2014

I had the incredible honour of representing my Board at the Sunshine Coast Alternative School Gradation celebrations earlier today at the SC Golf & Country Club. The students and staff of SCAS are incredible. Their dedication is amazing to get students through school which is why the school motto is “Whatever it Takes”.

I think that would be a great motto for BCEd.

Here’s my speech.

***

Parents and family, staff, community members.
Graduates

On behalf of the Board of Education of School District 46, Sunshine Coast, I bring greeting and Congratulations.

I have to be honest, this is the first time that I have attended the SCAS graduation since I became a trustee. What a great venue and how wonderful to be surrounded by all of your family, friends, community members and teachers.

The Motto of the Sunshine Coast Alternative School is “Whatever it takes”. As trustees at the board level, we do not witness your day to day struggles, triumphs and successes to get you through your coursework and homework.
We do not know of your personal stories – why you chose SCAS, how it works for you and why it kept you in school.
But the teachers and support staff around you do. They have witnessed and coached and struggled with you to get you to this point: graduation.
Your families and friends have been there for you as well and with them you have made it here.

Through the generous donations from our community, you will be awarded bursaries and scholarships. Thank you to the generous support of the entire Sunshine Coast Community for all of our graduates.

Between the staff at SCAS and your families and support system, you have this wonderful network that has brought you to this point and will assist to give you the wings for your next steps.

As trustees, it is our job o create the environment for this to continue through our advocacy and policy directions. We are extremely proud of all of our graduates and for me, especially of our SCAS grads as your path has not always been the straightest line to this finishing point. For me, school was easy – I was the peg that fit in the hole, but many of my friends were not, and they ended up dropping out and not finishing. They did not have the staff and structure of a school like SCAS to do “whatever it takes” to get them to graduation. You have an incredibly dedicated teaching staff that helped you to get you here to this day.

Your success and engagement drives us at the Board table to do better for you all.

We wish you all the best in the next step of your life’s journey.

Congratulations.

Today I am a Mother

This morning I am a mother.

I am comforting my grade seven child. She’s upset that her class field trip to Victoria has been cancelled due to labour disputes. A field trip that has stemmed from her science class talking about the Sakinaw salmon months ago.

The Sakinaw salmon morphed in to a discussion on the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and how the Federal Government introduced legislation to drastically change the structure the DFO. This led to my daughter and a classmate initiating a letter writing campaign amongst their other sixteen classmates to their local, federal and provincial politicians. Their teacher was incredibly engaged, able to use the students’ enthusiasm to promote cross-curricular competencies in social studies.

The students met with their local MLA Nicholas Simons.

Their MP John Weston visited them just last week in their classroom, interviewing a few on their thoughts.

The trip to Victoria was to be a two day event to tour the Legislature and see the seat of government in our province, and experience Question Period. This is a trip that the students have been fundraising for weeks to make happen ; through car washes, sponsorship requests, bake sales, face-painting, and bottle drives.

As a trustee that is involved in local and provincial advocacy, and well versed in the current situation, I can explain all the issues to my daughter. I can tell her how the Province is trying to balance their budget in order to maintain BC’s high financial rating.
I can tell my daughter about how the Liberals campaigned on a ten-year deal with teachers during last year’s election, but how minimally education came up during debates and through all sides during the election campaign.
I can explain how in balancing the provincial books, this means that Education funding is remaining static to districts, which leaves school districts across the province with a shortfall as they try to staff classrooms, cover rising costs of Hydro and BC medical insurance premiums; maintain aging facilities; and deal with the ever-changing provincial directives on cash management and labour policy.
I can tell my daughter about how the publicly elected trustee governance board at BCPSEA (BC Public School Employers’ Association) was fired last summer and how Minister of Education Peter Fassbender appointed a public administrator to oversee the organization, which then resulted in a scramble by BCSTA (BC School Trustees Association) to consult with boards across the province to establish new bargaining structure suggestions prior to legislation regarding BCPSEA was introduced, legislation that has not materialized, nor is it on the immediate horizon.
I can tell my daughter about the bargaining positions of the BCTF and BCPSEA are incredibly far apart, ranging in cost estimates of the millions to billions of dollars, and how depending on which side is presenting the information, the amounts fluctuate.
I can explain how many days the bargaining teams have met since last year, approximately sixteen months ago; how many nights they have spent away from their families, trying to find common ground in the chasm that separates them.
I can explain to my daughter how her teacher is caught between very difficult pressures between his employer and his union, which is why the trip was cancelled.
And even though we have had all of these discussions in my home, the conflicting messages that are circulating regarding strikes, lockouts, and the labour dispute are confusing to us all, let alone my daughter that is missing her trip to Victoria.

But this morning, I am a mother – I have loved up my kids, and given them hugs, cuddles and kisses, and reminded them to be kind to their teachers and fellow classmates, to the staff at their school. I am frustrated for my children, for their teachers, for the trustees and districts across the province, for all of us caught in the middle.

Let’s hope for a negotiated settlement that is fully funded by the province.

The Elephant in my Head

Today is the day I share my elephant.

I am an open book. You can ask me anything, and I will give an honest answer. I love to talk about about my life and family, my experiences, and the ideas I have. I can have hard conversations over my skills, my mistakes and successes.

But the one thing I avoid discussing is my weight and my body image.

I was never a thin kid or teen. I didn’t exercise regularly, and I was a “brain” in school, with little athletic ability. I tried out for the Volleyball team in Junior High a couple of times, and didn’t make the one team picked out of the forty girls that tried out. I was a cheerleader in grades seven and eight, and was chosen as captain of the squad. As I had so much fun in junior high, I tried out for the high school team in grade nine but did not make it through the cuts. After the cliquey group that denied me access graduated, I tried out again and made it at that time. But the school population’s was not respectful of us. I remember overhearing a few comments along the lines of “is that the football team? no, those are the cheerleaders” . Not great for a young girl’s self esteem, so I quit.

I then joined Sea Cadets, and through summer camps and activities, became a lover of walking, running and marching drills. The camping and outdoor hikes were great, and I learned to sail. Active and fun.

During my grade twelve year, I started partying and working extensively. I dropped out of cadets, and concentrated on my social life, job, and finishing my grade twelve year. After graduation, I lived in my home town for another year before moving out to the coast with my employer as they had purchased a new store and needed managers to help open. The busyness of those months, coupled with the lack of extra activity and the habits that come from an active social life – drinking, smoking and poor eating choices – were not in my best interests.

I then met my kids’ dad, and had three beautiful girls. My first pregnancy was not as healthy as it should have been, as I worked six days a week until the last two months, not gaining any weight until I started Maternity leave. Then I gained forty pounds. The rest of the pregnancy was not healthy, making it necessary to deliver Carly in Vancouver at BC Women’s hospital. I was also left with a bad case of baby blues, feeling alone and disconnected in an area where I currently had no friends or family of my own.

I gradually lost some of the weight through exercise and the support of a weight loss program, getting down to as low as 185. I was thrilled, and felt great. Then I discovered I was pregnant. I vowed that this pregnancy would be different and ate healthy, participated in Aquafit classes and walked. Kimberly was born to a much healthier mother.

I rejoined the weight loss program not long after I was done nursing Kim, and the weight was slowly dissolving, when I found out that Michelle was on the way. I had to quit the program, and just try to eat healthy and exercise. After a semi-healthy pregnancy, I now had a six year old, a twenty month old and newborn.

I started running, and we got a dog – a boxer named Dozer – that helped me to keep active. I completed a 10K as well as a half-marathon.

After a few years, my marriage crumbled, and I was feeling strong, but gradually the weight started to creep up as my feelings of guilt, inadequacy and loneliness from missing my kids on their days with their dad layered me in numbness.

I found love in my husband Brian, who loves me wholeheartedly and has known me for many years. But as he works away, there is still an emptiness that food and self-pity fill.

I then broke my ankle – I rolled it while walking at work. The pain took quite a while to subside and I still have some discomfort from the area that broke, four and a half years later. But the fear of rolling it again ended my running, and even walking for fun.

In July of 2012, I reached a high of 255 pounds. Since then, I have gotten as low as 236, but in the past year and a half, have been bouncing around the 240’s.

I know how to eat healthy. I know how to exercise. Yet this struggle continues.

And why can I not talk about it?

My weight is a number. It is a value that changes, fluctuating with the whims of hormones, emotions and bad habits of an individual that does not know how to prioritize herself. I am not that number. It does not own me, but it does affect me.

My body image is the more difficult to talk about. The vision of me in my head is different than the one I see in the mirror, which is different again than the one I see in pictures. And the shame I sometimes feel is hard to swallow.

I have always prioritized other people’s needs before my own, a quality that serves me well in the service industry that I work in, but in my personal life, I do not have the same emotional boundaries.

I accept others for the people that they are; I love and support my friends and family at face value, and help them reach their goals and objectives, as well as being a kind ear to listen and a place to go for heartfelt hugs when they need one.

I deserve that same acceptance of myself… by me.

I am learning to accept my body for what it is , but mostly the person it belongs to…. me.

As a leader in my professional life, in my community as a Trustee and volunteer, a mentor and friend, and mostly as a mother to my three gorgeous daughters, I had to give voice to my personal struggle.

I am a strong woman, however my confidence is still a bit shaky.
But not for long.

I have set my elephant free.