In this column, I am sharing my thoughts and experiences on serving as a trustee, vice-chair and chair of the Kamloops-Thompson board of education, while also hoping to inspire others to consider putting their names forward.
I am not seeking re-election on Oct. 15, so I want to share how grateful I am to the voters of Kamloops who have given me the privilege of serving this school district for four terms.
When elected to public office, you are given a trust that requires your time, commitment, skills, open mind and patience.
A trustee’s work is complicated. You become one member of a nine-person corporate board that must collaborate and compromise. There is no room for a narrow personal agenda, nor advocacy for a single organization or group.
You must always be willing to maintain an open mind to engage with all district and community members within the context of the district’s strategic plan and your role as a governor.
As a new trustee, there is an immense amount to learn about the entire district, the School Act, the board’s relationship to the Ministry of Education, the board’s role as employer to various employee groups and the list goes on.
A team of skilled professionals will help you learn what you need to know, but it will take time.
Start the term by being curious and asking lots of questions. The board table will consist of incumbents who will absolutely support you in the learning.
Improving student outcomes requires that all trustees be prepared to collaborate, compromise, listen and debate, consistently maintaining the line between governance (your role) and operations (the professional staff’s role).
So, why run? You would be joining a board that celebrates student success in literacy, numeracy and high school completion rates.
There will be tough times, tough decisions, endless meetings, difficult conversations and challenging correspondence, but none of that outweighs walking into a classroom and having a primary student proudly read to you or receiving a student’s or a parent’s thank you email because you helped make a difference in their life.
If students are always at the centre of what you do, the work is incredibly rewarding. I have no regrets.
During my 14 years as a trustee, Aboriginal graduation rates have significantly improved, but we are not done yet. The district is working hard on Truth and Reconciliation, a continuing journey of which I am extremely proud.
In October, there will be the official opening of the expansion of Valleyview secondary, an event more than five years in the making. Hopefully, we are only months away from a funding announcement for an elementary school in Pineview Valley as advocating for capital investment is forefront with trustees.
During my terms, the district opened schools of choice, in addition to academies focused on meeting the needs of our diverse student population. The district’s new comprehensive strategic plan, created through extensive consultation, provides strong direction for the next five years. This was the third district strategic plan I participated in and implementation will be exciting.
There is so much for which I am proud and grateful over the past 14 years. This district is not perfect and there is much we can do to improve our students’ outcomes.
If you have the passion to truly be of service, consider running for school trustee and continue the work of moving this district forward. Plus, vote. An elected school board is the “public” in public education.
Meghan Wade is a Kamloops-Thompson school district trustee. She can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Columns from school district trustees and staff appear monthly in KTW and online at kamloopsthisweek.com. To comment on this column, send an email to email@example.com.