Providing all students with the best faith-filled education
Catholic education is a gift to be cherished; it has played a role in who I am and in the amazing young adults my children have become. I want to ensure that my future grandchildren are also given the opportunity to benefit from this experience. My faith provides a unique lens through which decisions are made and an opportunity to help students progress on their faith journey; it is my goal to continue to support Board decisions that provide opportunities for growth for both students and staff.
In September 2013, the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board unveiled a new strategic plan called Our Faith ~ Our Future . This plan is the result of consultation with staff, students, families, parish priests and community partners. I am proud to have been a part of its development, have fully participated in its promotion throughout Muskoka and Parry Sound, and am interested in seeing its impact on Board decisions over the next 4 years.
Ensuring academic success and well-being for all students
I have represented Trustees on the Special Education Advisory Committee (SEAC) for the past 4 years. As an active participant on SEAC and 3 SEAC subcommittees (Steering, Accessibility and Assistive Technology/Augmentative Communication), I have become a strong advocate for meeting the needs of all students.
My contribution and active participation on these committees have effected change within the Board. The direct results of their recommendations include:
-The hiring of internal trainers to support students, staff and families with the special education equipment provided to enhance their learning. This has meant there is virtually no wait time between the arrival of the equipment and the availability of a trainer.
-A pilot project using specially purchased chairs to ensure that all students can be evacuated from a multi-story school in the event of an emergency that shuts down elevators.
-An increased awareness of barriers to accessibility throughout the Board.
-A concerted effort to recruit more community agencies for participation on SEAC, including those in Muskoka and Parry Sound.
The group of dedicated people on this committee inspires me every day and I look forward to continuing the work we are doing over the next 4 years.
Increasing Parent Engagement
Improving Parent Engagement in Catholic Education has been a goal throughout my 20+ years of involvement in our schools. Over the past 4 years, I have been the Trustee representative on the Catholic Parent Involvement Committee (CPIC), which is responsible for arranging the annual CSCC Commissioning Services and providing resources and training for School Councils throughout the Board. I am very proud of the work of this committee; we have completed bylaws, recruited new members (including one from Muskoka and one from Parry Sound), and added resources to the webpage. Click here I look forward to continuing this great work in my next term.
My experience with CPIC and CSCC’s has enabled me to be a resource and encourage sharing among the different communities I serve. Everyone involved in a School Council is busy and if I can put people in touch with each other to reduce the workload, I feel that I have succeeded. One example of this came up recently with both St. Peter the Apostle and Monsignor Michael O’Leary CSCC’s receiving Parents Reaching Out Grants to host a Math Night for families. Neither group was aware of the other’s application. I immediately contacted the two schools and put the organizers in touch with each other so they could collaborate rather than duplicating the work involved in such an undertaking. I also spearheaded a joint application between these 2 schools in 2011 that saw them work together to create a calendar celebrating our Board’s Catholic Virtues and Values. This calendar was distributed to students throughout Muskoka and Parry Sound.
Effective stewardship of Board resources
On June 18, 2014 our Board approved a budget of $235,505,957. for the 2014-2015 School Year. In order to allow time to adequately review both the budget and expenditures for the previous year, the Chair called 2 Special Board Meetings. Budget training is a practice that began with our first budget and I have attended and actively participated in every meeting. I take this fiscal responsibility very seriously and want to be fully informed before voting on a final budget. Having a strategic plan like Our Faith ~ Our Future in place has been helpful, as Trustees can weigh decisions against the goals and priorities outlined there.
Advocating for students and families in Muskoka and Parry Sound
The Education Act is very clear that the responsibilities of a Trustee involve overall Board Governance and not day-to-day activities at the school level. This means that when families have specific issues I have to refer them on to the appropriate school or Board office staff. My knowledge of the communities in Muskoka and Parry Sound and my rapport with staff has proven beneficial when referring families. I will continue to serve Muskoka and Parry Sound with the same professionalism and collaborative approach that has ensured any issues are resolved.