Why bother with Trustees?We could have Alberta Education just run the education system out of Edmonton and they would push gov’t priorities and kids would get an education – so what’s wrong with that?
As a trustee who lives in Banff, I see and hear from parents frequently and they tell me what is working (so we continue to give it focus) and what isn’t working (so we can examine it and try to find solutions). I also have a strong connection with a lot of teachers and administrators and we have lively and sometimes tough conversations about what the challenges of delivering quality education to real diverse student needs can be and they identify where support is most needed.
So I think that local trustees can listen better, pay attention to what’s happening in our 6 small schools (3 in Canmore, 2 in Banff, 1 in Exshaw), and build relationships with parents, teachers, admin, community agencies, municipal councils, and the community in general. When we do this we create a climate of collaboration and our communities can create solutions that work.
An example of local/community influence on our schools
Remember when Banff High School was being completely rebuilt – the first solution was to bus the kids to Canmore. Parents got involved and wanted a Banff solution and we ended up with the Banff Centre housing the senior high students for a whole year. There was disruption, but the kids also got lots of neat experiences with Banff Centre artists, scientists, and faculty.
What I’ve learned as a Trustee
I’ve learned the difference between power and influence and I will take influence almost always. I’ve learned that when you invite people into conversations about education, about their child and learning, about what works and doesn’t work in their school, about how school councils can contribute etc. that you get a lot farther than sitting behind closed doors, reading a few reports and passing motions to make changes that no one knows about until it hits the paper or the change is already happening. In today’s complex world you need many eyes and ears paying attention to what’s happening and looking together at solutions.
Three years ago we began a process to look at the future of education in the Bow Valley that we called Inspiring Hearts and Minds. The IHM process involved 150 parents, 75 teachers and over 400 students. This web-site shows you the model we developed, the key directions we are pursuing and there is even the input from the community forums so you can read what people had to say.
A key idea we are exploring is co-creating. Students, teachers, admin, parents, school councils, school board, community agencies, and the community as a whole working together to understand the big picture and to create actions that help us move into a 21st century approach to education.
I don’t think we’d get that if Alberta Education was running our schools from Edmonton.