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Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Voice of the Committee

As Trustees, part of our job is to sit on Committees of the Board. AMDSB Policy 10 Some of these committees require all Trustee membership, others 1-3 Trustees. The make-up of the Committee maybe Trustees and/or staff and/or parents and/or community members. It is within these committees that the Trustees begin to learn the functioning of the Board. The trustees also begin to view/direct policies and procedures that the Board operates by and is governed by.
 The Board's Committees are classified as: Standing Committees - Committee of the Whole, Finance Committee, Director's Review, and Board Review/Self Evaluation: Statutory Committees - Special Education Advisory Committee (SEAC), Suspension Appeal Committee/Expulsion Committee/Expulsion Appeal Committee/Discipline Committee, Supervised Alternative Learning (SAL), Parent Involvement Committee (PIC), and Audit Committee; Advisory Committees - School Year Calendar, Student's Advisory Committee & Student Trustees, and Joint Health & Safety Committee; Ad Hoc Committees - Policy Committee and Board Review Committee; Others - Curriculum Pool, Human Resources Pool, Foundation for Enriching Education Perth Huron, AODA, Huron-Perth Student Transportation, Safe Schools, Key Contributions & Service Awards, and Accommodation Review Committees.
One can now begin to see the time commitment of the Trustee between their Committee(s) obligations and the regular Board Meetings (Committee of the Whole).

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Meeting. The Team

I had the opportunity to meet all my fellow AMDSB Trustees on Thursday at the 2010 Regional Trustee Orientation Seminars in London. With 5 new trustees and 4 returning trustees things maybe a little slow to begin with, as us rookies learn the ropes. The new trustees are Michael Bannerman & Alyson Kent representing Stratford, Lynette Geddes representing West & South Perth and St. Marys, Julie Moore representing Perth East and myself, Robert Hunking, representing Huron East & Central Huron. The returning trustees are Colleen Schenk representing North Huron & Morris/Turnberry & Howick, Al Sygrove representing Goderich & Colborne/Ashfield/Wawanash, Jenny Versteeg representing North Perth, and representing South Huron & Bluewater Randy Wagler. The Seminars that day including speakers on Student Achievement, Bill 177 and the Early Learning Program (FDK). We also had time to discuss and talk amongst ourselves about our role as trustees. The open and frank conversation between the trustees shows the willingness to respect and encourage each other. Connected Principals: TRUST .The challenges of the next 4 years lay before us, we will meet them. We may stumble at times, be unsure of ourselves, ask the wrong or 'stupid' question occasionally and make mistakes but we will do the best we can and learn along the way.  The Leading Blog: Ten Truths About Leadership

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Ombudsman Cometh

Saw this tweet/article 'Ombudsmaning-it' by @HugoWSRatMassey (The Education Reporter). NDP MPP Rosario Marchese has introduced a bill that will place school boards and others under the eyes of the Ontario Ombudsman. This is something that I will need to follow as a new trustee. I see nothing wrong with people having a place/person to go to if they feel their complaints are not being heard. How this plays outs or is implemented will determine its effectiveness. The issues could be a child being bullied, bussing, special needs and even ARC's. This could be one of the biggest complaint area. Will parents use the Ombudsman to try to overturn school closures? Will try to keep myself and you updated as things unfold. 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Parent Involvement

The satisfaction of volunteering is very evident in school. Parent involvement or engagement (a future blog) has become an essential part of the school environment. Much can be said/discussed about the parent's place in the school system. In this blog I am just going to touch on some information that parents can use to help them become part of their child's school or think about it. Get Involved  by Kids Health. People volunteer in school because they want to, not because they are mandated. Parent involvement is now part of Ontario's Education Act. Visit Ontario Ministry of Education .Most parents volunteer in the classroom or are involved through the School Advisory Council (SAC). Many school boards have a Parent or SAC section on their website, AMDSB School Councils , with various information, SAC Handbook , SAC  Video Tutorials. School's SAC's play many roles within the school and vary from school to school. The degree of parent involvement varies as well. Parents need to feel welcome and respected in the school and classroom by the teachers, principal and other parents. The articles and resources for parents, teachers and administration are endless on parent involvement. A good website is Parents as Partners. I will be returning to this topic in future posts as it is an important and necessary part of the school environment. A first step Inform, Invite, Perform . To my fellow parents out there, Thank you.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Canadian Education

Education is always taking a bad rap. Read these two posts and you will realize things are not that bad here. The first is from the Washington Post and the second is from Newsweek Magazine. Let's strive on what we are doing right.


As this is a journey for me and for some of my readers, my posts and links may not be of interest to some readers, especially those who have been in the education field for a period of time. To myself and other newbies,  most information is new or at least needing a refreshing. Here is a prime example, how many parents have taking the time to see what the Ministry's Curriculum Guidelines look like. Ontario Elementary Curriculum . It takes time to comprehend all the information, let alone determine how to teach it. You maybe asking yourself  "If he doesn't know what is to be taught how can he be a good Trustee?" This is an area I need to work on. Fortunately for me, Trustees do not determine directly what or how subjects are taught, this is left to the Ministry, Board Staff and teachers. We do watch and see that it is being taught in an effective learning environment for students and teachers. Within the Ministry's Curriculum Guidelines are standards or levels for students to obtain and it these that the Board uses to determine if the Board is meeting its goals set out in its, AMDSB Strategic Directions. Standards, levels and testing is a whole different discussion. (This discussion will come.) To the non newbies your direction and input and comments are always welcome on all subjects.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

What is That?

Every world creates their own lingo and has their own tools. The Education Tech world is no different.
Storybird, ebook, Backchannel, Digg, BrainNook, Animoto, Bitstripes, Wordle, Blogger, Wiki, Twiducate, Tweetdeck, Wallwisher, Prezi, Voice Thread, Skype, Ning, Grouply, DropBox, Livescribe, IWB, Evernote, Google Docs, Ustream, Wordcloud, Voki, Delicious, PowerPoint (old) Yfrog, etc., etc., etc. The list of eprograms and etools is endless. What should be used in the classroom? What is the best for my situation? Do the parents understand what is happening in the 21st Century Classroom and what WEB 2.0 is about? Here is a local example of what schools can do to educate the parents.Hullett Central PS.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Strategic Directions

As mentioned in my Nov. 2nd Blog the 'Rules of the Game' one of the responsibilities of the Trustees is to develop their Board's Strategic Directions. Here are the Strategic Directions for the AMDSB . It has been divided into 5 sections:

1) Student Achievement
2) Citizenship
3) Staff
4) Engaging Our Community
5) Effective Use of Resources

The Board's procedures to achieve the path(s) and goals laid out are developed by the staff within the framework of the Education Ministry's Guidelines, Framework, Standards, ETC. It becomes the responsiblilty of the Trustees to monitor the success of the Strategic Directions.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Read this article on Twitter today Canadian Education: We're in Need of a Good Controversy or Two by Stephen Hurley and thought I would blog about it. First off we do not need to behave like the Americans and reform by creating a "crisis" and try to destroy the system in order to change it. What Controversy do you want to create? Is the education antiquated? Slow to adapt to new ideas? Stressing teaching over learning? I  have stated before Reform  and by many others education needs to create Life Long Learners. So whether education is going through a reformation or a transformation or a revolution or an evolution the stakeholders are the students. A starting point could be a simple as 4 Ways to Transform Your School Culture  by Tanya Roscorla. The sharing of best practices has been made simpler by the use of Twitter and the Internet. Use it. These two articles may sum things up the best Reforming Through Our Strengths by Chris Wejr and For the Love of Learning by Will Richardson. I don't know if we need a controversy but what we need a progressive movement forward.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Rules of the Game

Being a Trustee is not a game but like a game there are rules. In education these rules are referred to as Policies and Procedures. The first glance many people get, unless they have been active in Boards activities, on being a Trustee is probably the Making a Difference for Kids Running for Election as a School Board Trustee by OPSBA . If this did not scare you off, you start looking at your Board's Policies, in my case the Avon Maitland District School Board AMDSB. School Board Websites are a wealth of information for students, parents and teachers and even Administrators. The distribution of information at the Board level to schools and parents is critical. Here though, one discovers the Policies that help Govern the Trustees and the Staff.  Once you have read  the Trustees Job Description and  the Role of the Trustee , follow it by the Board Governance Bylaws., you realize there are many rules of the game. All this leads to  the Strategic Directions, the framework from which Procedures are now developed to implement this plan.How is the Board going to meet its plan as developed to meet Ministry expectations?  By now ones head is spinning and you realize you have just started your journey. However, wait to see what the Ministry has to say on the matter. That is later, I now need to refresh myself on all this that I now posted. 

Monday, November 1, 2010


Why did you run in the election? Why do you think people voted for you? Why?

Everybody has their own answer(s) to these questions. My other/old website may/can answers some of those questions, too. In 2008/2009 my children were in grades 2, SK & JK and like many parents I was not overly involved in my children's school beyond helping with homework and attending school activities. That year our school came up for an Accommodation review and for some reason the need for information took me over. I did not want to just be involved, I wanted to be engaged. I became a member of the Accommodation Review Committee (ARC) and of the School Advisory Council (SAC). Once you begin to discover the workings of the school system, from the classroom to the Ministry, your questions never end, as is most circumstances the answer(s) leads to another question(s). I feel strongly that all parents need to know how the education system works and how & why decisions are made whether at the school level or at the Ministry. I realize a Trustee's role is it develop/set policy but they are also the means of communication between the board and parents.

Was this what the voters were looking for or was it the discussion on the various issues/concerns happening these days in education? Could voting be consider a form of Parent Involvement? Does experience play a role in voters decision or are they looking for new blood or perspective? What about name or reputation? Only the voters know why they did what they did.

I would like to acknowledge my fellow candidates Wilhelmina Laurie and Pam McLellan. There were three strong and dedicated candidates in this election. We are all the better for it.

I am using this blog as a form of expression for me and also as opportunity to dialogue with people. As a learn, you will learn with me. I thank you for this opportunity and hope you will help me on 'My Path of Learning'..