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Kamloops trustee snapshot Q&A

We posed two questions to the 10 School District 73 board of education trustee candidates
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Welcome to KTW’s trustee candidate snapshot profiles. These Q&As originally ran in the Oct. 5 print edition of Kamloops This Week.

We posed two questions to the 10 School District 73 board of education trustee candidates:

Q1: Why are you seeking a seat on the School District 73 board of education?
Q2: Is there a subject not being taught that should be added to the curriculum?

Marian Anderberg submitted

Marian Anderberg
Age: 49
Social worker
Email: marian.anderberg@gmail.com
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Why are you seeking a seat on the School District 73 board of education?

I have been a social worker in Kamloops and the surrounding area since 1999. 

Throughout my career, I have supported children, families and students.  I continue to operate a private practice in downtown Kamloops.  My experience as a social worker, an educator and an administrator has prepared me for the role of school trustee

 I am keenly aware of the importance of strong mental-health support for student success.  As a child and youth mental-health clinician, I supported students and parents to navigate challenges and recruit appropriate supports for kids. I collaborated with teachers and families to ensure students could be successful in the classroom. I understand the need for robust supports in classrooms and for teachers to feel empowered in the work they do with kids. 

Student success is dependant on adequate funding from the province.  Additional schools in the district are necessary due to the overcrowding. I will lend my voice as an advocate for students and those who support them.

In my role as an administrator within the public post-secondary system, I oversaw a large portfolio that included co-ordinating the institutional response to students at risk, academic integrity and sexualized violence education and response. I have extensive experience with policy development and believe that embedding fair process is imperative. 

Policies that ensure accountability while ensuring opportunities for growth and learning will support the district to function effectively. I believe a co-ordinated approach is integral to student success. I am committed to collaboration with community and with local government, including the City of Kamloops and the Secwépemc Nation. I commit to continued support for truth and reconciliation at the board of education level, as well as within all programming approved by the board.

Is there a subject not being taught that should be added to the curriculum?

In my work as an administrator in the public post-secondary system, I oversaw the network that supported students struggling upon their arrival.

Support to students was required due to the social issues they experienced.  Students were often unprepared and did not know where to seek support. 

Curriculum that destigmatizes asking for help is what is needed for student success within the K to 12 system and beyond. 

Curriculum that is focused on normalizing accessing supports and creating a culture of allyship is imperative.  Committing to mental wellness for children and youth is committing to well adults later in life.

The lack of preparedness for post-secondary was most evident with the high attrition rates of first- and second-year students.  Curriculum that prepares students entering post-secondary needs to focus on strong academic performance. The world of academic integrity has morphed and changed as technology has advanced.

Unprepared students fall prey to predatory offerings from contract-cheating agencies that promise grades without effort. 

Curriculum that focuses on integrity in all aspects of life and all decisions will ensure students are committed to learning and striving. Curriculum focused on integrity protects students and society.            

BehmaneshShahriar Behmanesh
Age: 31
Dentist
Facebook: Shahriar for School Trustee

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Why are you seeking a seat on the School District 73 board of education?

I always wanted to get involved with civil service as a way of giving back and education has been an integral part of my life. I believe that educating our youth is the singular most important thing we do in society and the decisions we make in doing that have reverberating effects for generations to come. The school trustee position seemed like a perfect opportunity for me to make a positive influence.

Unfortunately, I am dismayed by the turn our public education has taken in the last decade or so. The quality of education the average kid receives now seems significantly watered down.

Whether we are not pushing kids hard enough or not offering adequate resources, they are not given the tools to reach their full potential. The world is not getting any less expensive and they graduate with more expectations.

This makes for a terrible recipe. The changes to their report cards are only symbolic of the objective parameters we used to hold them to.

The responsibilities of the school trustee are more operational in nature, but where I can, I will use its influence to highlight these matters. I have been pleasantly surprised in talking to parents and teachers alike that most of them share these concerns.

I believe we owe our kids going through the public school system quality education that makes a meaningful difference in their lives, no matter their path.

Is there a subject not being taught that should be added to the curriculum?

Let’s get back to the basics.

Although there are many subjects I believe are under-taught, such as history and geography, I think primary education makes the biggest difference.

More specifically, we can do a much better job emphasizing core subjects like English and math. Currently, our expectations of kids in math in elementary school are abysmal. This is certainly not the case in other countries or in private schools.

Their language lessons are not much better, either. I don’t want a greater emphasis on core learning subjects like English and math because I want them to do their own taxes, but rather, the critical thinking and language skills afforded them will be invaluable for the rest of their lives.

Kids’ learning capacities are extremely malleable at an early age. These foundational subjects will increase their aptitude for learning and hard work, no matter the path they take in life. 

Heather GrieveHeather Grieve
Age: 51
Player health team leader
Email: Heathergrieve@shaw.ca

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Why are you seeking a seat on the School District 73 board of education?

I have had the privilege to sit as a trustee on the SD73 board of education since 2018 and chair of the board of education since October 2021.

I would be honoured to represent the community for another term. I am seeking re-election as school trustee because I believe in the importance of the education system and the role of an elected board in ensuring that students, parents and staff thrive within it.

I believe an elected board enables trustee representatives to bring a lens that reflects community perspectives. Because I am a highly involved member of the community, I listen to the perspectives of others and bring those perspectives, not just my own, to the role.

In the education system, 
students not only learn curriculum in the school environment, but schools are also a place where students get connection, support and values that are needed for an individual to thrive.

Schools are an integral part of the “village” within our communities that it takes to raise a child.

Is there a subject not being taught that should be added to the curriculum?

British Columbia’s curriculum enables students to graduate as “educated citizens of the 21st century.”

The competencies associated with career development, intellectual development and human and social development are embedded into the current curriculum.

A subject not being taught as a standalone topic that I would like to see added is empathy, with additional focus on kindness and respect.

The subject would build on the human and social development curriculum and have students leave our system as empathetic individuals who seek to understand diversity of opinions and show kindness toward differing perspectives.

I believe the subject is important as we have seen many challenges arise in the last two years.

The issues have at times been divisive and have highlighted increased intolerance.

Education is about broadening knowledge and perspectives and could Include a course that has a primary focus on teaching empathy and a willingness to respectfully listen to others. 

Cole_Hickson_submitted_vertCole Hickson
Age: 26
Communications co-ordinator
Email: VoteHicksonSD73@gmail.com

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Why are you seeking a seat on the School District 73 board of education?

I want to help get more schools built, increase experiential learning opportunities, better utilize our properties, promote student safety and supports and engage our government(s) through effective community advocacy.

I was a four-time elected TRU Students’ Union representative and led some of the most ambitious campaigns in our school’s history, uniting universities around B.C. and engaging our regional community from Clearwater to Logan Lake and everywhere in between, presenting to any council, non-profit, NGO and business that would welcome us.

Through connecting economics with community engagement, we succeeded in communicating the need for fair funding and accessibility across political lines, with our work appearing in several tripartisan provincial budget recommendations in 2017, 2018 and 2019) — all years I was lobbying government — by the Select Standing Committee of Finance and Government Relations.

After university, I worked for the Kamloops and District Chamber of Commerce before moving on to my current role as the communications and engagement co-ordinator at the Bob Gaglardi School of Business and Economics at TRU.

These experiences gave me a strong understanding of our regional economic, social and political needs. Moreover, they highlighted the necessity of engaging our students with hands-on, experiential education and social/civic opportunities.

My peers recognize and respect me as a person who will do the work, speak the truth and always hear any concerns put forward. This is what I bring to SD73.

Evidence-based, data-driven approaches that involve working with students, parents/guardians, teachers and the broader community is how I expect us to achieve success.

Is there a subject not being taught that should be added to the curriculum?

As a local K-12 and TRU graduate, and current university co-ordinator, I can confidently say there is a lack of real-life skills and subjects in our classrooms.

We need to enhance core learning for both tangible and intangible outcomes. Financial literacy should be at the top of our list, given its extraordinary importance and relatively low barrier to teaching/understanding.

Other skills relevant in today’s labour market should also take precedence, including presenting, writing emails, coding, etc.

We should also evaluate expanding areas like NorKam secondary’s trades and transitions program to give our students opportunities to explore their interests and potential career paths within, and beyond, our region.

I hear from many people about the importance of developing more intangible skills, such as critical thinking/skepticism, interpersonal relationships, and personal/mental health. All of these areas are of increasing importance for young people entering an increasingly dynamic and uncertain world.

Finally, we need to recognize our students will become leaders in our local and global community and ensure they have all the tools necessary to succeed.

I want our students to be empowered through forums, clubs and decision-making bodies within our school district to ensure their voice is heard.

Jimmy JohalJimmy Johal
Age: 42
Small business owner
Email: info@jimmyjohal.com

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Why are you seeking a seat on the School District 73 board of education?

I am running to find a meaningful way to give back to my community in an area that means a lot to me.

Education has always come first in my family. There are many teachers and educators in my family now and going back through the generations.

I was born in Royal Inland Hospital, along with my two siblings. We all completed K-12 in this district. Now our children are attending schools here, too.

The education system is placing a high value on topics such as reconciliation, inclusion and diversity. It means we have to outwardly reflect these ideals, starting at the board level. On Oct. 15, we get to elect the faces of the board who will go on to represent our community and our local education system.

I studied financial management at BCIT, with a major in accounting. I bring a unique skill set and have the experience for this role. Perhaps most importantly, I have the time to devote to the board. My businesses are running well and I have the right people in place, which frees me up to network and build up the strong partnerships so that together, our voices make more of an impact.

We need to be seen and heard. I want to devote a good chunk of my time ensuring Kamloops secures the funding it deserves. Our new schools must get the shovels in the ground sooner or this will keep getting pushed back for years. We need these schools now. It is an urgent matter.

Is there a subject not being taught that should be added to the curriculum?

Although writing curriculum is not a trustee’s job (this is set provincially), it is fun to suggest a topic for this.

I would like to choose Gardening Basics: the benefits of growing and harvesting your own garden.

Gardens represent a natural environment even though they are handmade. Studies show that for every $1 spent on buying seeds, gardening tools and your time, you get back nearly $2 in fresh produce.

Organically grown food has more much-needed vitamins and minerals than vegetables grown with synthetic pesticides.

With food prices going through the roof and stories everywhere about food safety recalls, this is the right time to learn how to grow your own garden, spices and herbs.

Research also shows that families who garden together enjoy better health and well-being. Children eat more vegetables, too. Gardening provides stress relief (relaxation) in a time when mindfulness strategies and maintaining good mental health is a major focus.

It is also good physical exercise — tilling the soil, planting, weeding, watering and harvesting gets you outdoors, breathing in fresh air and burning a few calories while you’re at it.

The course could cover additional topics, such as cooking and sharing of recipes (food health), composting and even xeriscape landscaping. I think it’s a great idea if all schools could plant a community garden and they could take turns participating in the weekend farmers’ markets.

Jo Kang school trustee candidateJo Kang
Age: 24
Services co-ordinator
Email: jodhbirkang@gmail.com

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Why are you seeking a seat on the School District 73 board of education?

think it’s time for dramatic changes that need to be done in our school district.

Schooling and education is something that evolves and changes rapidly. We must understand youth are the future of the city and their upcoming success all starts in our school system.

Having someone who went through the school system in Kamloops will allow for a new, unique perspective to be brought to the board table.

I want to be someone who is connected and understands the needs of our children.

All politics aside, I believe as a school trustee, our students should always be the No. 1 priority.

I am very confident my voice on the school board will help shape a stronger School District 73, where our children will thrive.

Is there a subject not being taught that should be added to the curriculum?

Everyday personal finances is a course that should be added to the B.C. curriculum.

If you had asked me the day after I graduated to go pay a utility bill, I would have had no clue how to do that. I had no idea how to apply for a credit card, what interest rates were, how to budget/save money, etc.

I believe personal finances are the No. 1 thing students struggle with post graduation.

These financial struggles then lead to many young adults making questionable financial decisions early on, which then haunt them for the rest of their lives.

karpuk_kathleen*RGBKathleen Karpuk
Finance co-ordinator
Facebook - Kathleen Karpuk, School Trustee

* * *

Why are you seeking a seat on the School District 73 board of education?

I feel passionately about improving schools and education for students.

Although our completion and academic achievement rates have improved significantly over the past few years, there are still significant gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students, between rural and urban schools and a gap for students in care and who have special needs.

Students shouldn’t experience lower success because of their life circumstances outside of school.

Schools should be able to have the flexibility and resources to meet students where they are in their learning journey and provide specific tailored supports so every student can meet their full potential.

This would require additional resources of staff time, learning resources and specialist support. This means lobbying the provincial government for additional funding and working with community groups and agencies to provide services.

Is there a subject not being taught that should be added to the curriculum?

The question of adding to the curriculum should also include what should be removed.

Schools are continually being told they should add additional material to the curriculum, including instruction on nutrition, sexual health, information on addictions, mental-health training, how to budget, how to read a balance sheet, how to file taxes — and the list continues.

Teachers are no longer responsible for just teaching the three R’s, but in teaching students basic life skills along with the expanded curriculum. If there are areas that can be improved, it would be in critical thinking and media literacy.

John OfeeJohn O’Fee
Age: 60
Associate teaching professor/lawyer
Email: johnofee@gmail.com

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Why are you seeking a seat on the School District 73 board of education?

My history of community service informs a strong desire to see this region thrive. 

As I moved away from the daily practice of law toward a tenured position at TRU, I have rediscovered my love of education and the ability to positively impact the lives of students.

I bring a perspective on our public schools from being a student here, a parent of students and, now, as a post-secondary educator working with our graduates. This is my primary reason for seeking a leadership role with the district  In addition, my experience in other governance roles and major projects allows me to provide a perspective and input that is valuable to both the board and district administration.

Our last new school on a new site — Pacific Way elementary — was constructed more than 20 years ago. Nobody currently on the board or its senior administration was in those roles at that time.  I was on the board when we constructed both Juniper Ridge and McGowan Park elementary schools.

I believe my input into site and access-acquisition issues respecting the proposed new school sites and my experience with lobbying and capital projects will be a real asset for the board.

This experience has helped provide me some perspective on processes with the province.  

I have worked on other major capital projects in other capacities, including the Tournament Capital Centre, the Kamloops Centre for Water Quality, the Kamloops Airport expansion, the expansion of the RIH emergency room and construction of the recently completed RIH patient-care tower, which was announced while I was chair of the Interior Health board.

I hope to be able to draw on my skills and experience to help guide public education over the next four years.

Is there a subject not being taught that should be added to the curriculum?

I am undergraduate curriculum committee chair for the Bob Gaglardi School of Business and Economics.  We are in the process of being accredited by two international organizations.

Something I have learned from the accreditation process is the need to demonstrate what our students know and what they can do.  The same is true at the public school level.

Students are leading the way on climate change issues and they realize it is their future that is at stake.  I know many educators share their student’s passion for environmental issues and are already working hard developing materials in these areas.  I would encourage expansion of initiatives in this area.  One of my roles at TRU has been to develop new courses in Environmental law and Indigenous Business law. 

Students leaving high school with a strong base in these areas will find opportunities to enhance their skills and knowledge.

 I was fortunate to visit South Sahali  elementary school in the past year and see their school wide presentations on financial literacy. 

My view is that financial literacy will become increasingly important and should take a more prominent role with students as they progress through their educational journey. I will continue to encourage expansion of district efforts in this field.

Karla Pearce copyKarla Pearce
Age: 55

Artist
Email: karlapearcegallery@gmail.com

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Why are you seeking a seat on the School District 73 board of education?

I am a visual artist, a person with disabilities and was an art teacher for 23 years. I am passionate about all three. 

Is there a subject not being taught that should be added to the curriculum?

I think the curriculum is quite robust and I really don’t think this is the time to generate more work for teachers.

Every time you add something, it takes time away from our educators because they have to figure out how to fit the subject in.

It’s not always easy. 

Instead, let’s do a study and get some facts on what we need and what can be trimmed. I feel teachers need more resources to effectively teach the current curriculum. 

Rowse Facebook profile photoJennifer Rowse
Age: 35
Player health team leader
Facebook: Jennifer Rowse

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Why are you seeking a seat on the School District 73 board of education?

1. To be a strong conservative voice on a very leftist board. 

2. To help parents have transparency in what is being taught to their children, such as an option to opt in or out of SOGI123 and make schools take a neutral approach to controversial issues like gender ideology, religion and politics. 

3. To get grades put back in school as this leads to lower competitive development of students with special exceptions for neurodiverse children (each scenario is unique and needs to be addressed in such a way).

4. To get a focus on innovation and entrepreneurship into schools, promoting critical thinking and solution mindsets.

Is there a subject not being taught that should be added to the curriculum?

I believe entrepreneurship and innovation should be added to the curriculum to promote creative critical thinking.

Critical thinking about major needs faced in our society can help children find their passions in life and all of humanity to progress exponentially.

Critical thinking through entrepreneurship can also lead to immense increase in economic activity and job creation in the local area.

Raise the leaders of 
tomorrow.