By Lisa Dominato
Last year my daughter began kindergarten in Vancouver. While she was naturally nervous and excited about her first day, I was equally nervous and excited since I had not stepped foot in an elementary school in many years. I was incredibly impressed at the professionalism and skill of her kindergarten teacher, the principal, and other staff who were there to support her. I was also impressed by the level of parent engagement at the school and the sense of community.
I've spent more than a decade working in the K-12 education sector, including as director of student wellness and safety with the Ministry of Education. I've been fortunate to work with all K-12 education partners, including the BCTF, to develop public policy that prevents bullying and violence in schools, improves child and youth mental health, and fosters inclusive schools for all students. My work has been centred on the most vulnerable and at-risk students, in particular students who identify as LGBTQ2S+, children in care, Aboriginal students, students with special needs, and students with mental health or substance use issues. Putting students first has always been the cornerstone of my work.
I was compelled to put my name forward in this by-election because I was deeply troubled by the two independent reports that found the previous board fostered a culture of bullying and harassment, creating what has been described as a "toxic work environment", which led to senior managers leaving. I was also concerned about the board's disregard for its legal and fiduciary responsibilities, and the persistently negative narrative about public education in Vancouver. I believe this narrative has eroded public confidence in our school district despite the fact we have great schools and educators. I believe we have the opportunity to shift this narrative through positive, collaborative relationships with the province and among trustees and senior management.
As a trustee, I would bring positive leadership, governance, and collaborative decision making to the Vancouver school board (VSB), drawing on my experience as a public servant and chair of the Kettle Society. I have a track record of fostering strong relationships with diverse stakeholders and for being an effective advocate for the organizations and issues I have represented over the years.
Like most school board candidates, I am committed to building new schools in growth areas and seeing the seismic upgrading of our schools accelerated. I am passionate about supporting our most vulnerable students so they can succeed and believe we need a robust mental health and wellness strategy for all VSB students and staff. I am a tireless advocate of educators and believe we need to invest in the ongoing professional development of our teachers and administrators. I am equally interested exploring ways to enhance our district programs such as music and languages.
I believe students need to be at the centre of all decision making and I hope to have the opportunity to serve Vancouver families. On October 14th, I am asking for your support.More