Anne Montgomery for Parkland School Division Trustee Ward 5: Spruce Grove
It takes a village to raise a child. A large part of that village exists in the school community.
One of the ultimate goals of Parkland School Division is Student Wellness.
I believe WELLNESS = self-value + purpose + connection. Education is no longer simply about learning subject materials. Schools are a place where our children learn to value themselves, learn the importance of their contribution to society, and develop a connection to their greater community.
My traditional path of education focused primarily on content and subject matter. Critical thinking and the application of information was not emphasized. I succeeded under this model to achieve a Bachelor of Science degree (Psychology) and a Bachelor of Laws. I was not only shown the direction through the forest, but the exact path to take and I did not question it.
Today, our world is changing so quickly that we cannot know for certain that the path we have taken will still be successful for our children. There are so many opportunities today that did not even exist as a possibility when I was a child. The focus of education has shifted to empower our children to be resilient in times of change. To teach them the value of past experience, provide them with a foundation of knowledge AND also instill in them the self-awareness and courage to adapt and thrive in the uncertainty of the future. By focusing on WELLNESS in addition to SUCCESS (in the traditional sense) we recognize that there are many paths through the forest and our students need to be provided with the support and the space to explore and find their own way.
Parkland School Division is forward-thinking and has taken steps to be on the leading edge. The adoption of a generative governance model (Chait, Ryan & Taylor) and the Circle of Courage paradigm (Dr. Martin Brokenleg) focus on the greater purpose of leadership and education. I am inspired to contribute my time and passion to this movement.
My Contribution to the School Board
Methodical Analysis: I have a fundamental belief that two seemingly opposing viewpoints can both be 100% correct. Our understanding of the world is influenced by many factors & assumptions - one person may look at this picture (taken from 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey) and see a young & affluent woman, while another person looking at the exact same picture may see an old & poor woman. While these two interpretations may seem completely contradictory, the reality is that the picture allows for both to be completely correct without diminishing the other (the picture is both a young & old woman). If we limit ourselves to the incorrect assumption that the picture can only represent one interpretation our ability to understand the picture as a whole is impossible.
I learn about differing perspectives with curiosity and openness - an opposing opinion must be considered with the same respect as a concurring one. Taking the time to understand all of the perspectives usually allows the best solution to arise - I am solution focused. My approach to any analysis is to:
- Gather the facts available;
- Question the assumptions that will impact my interpretation of those facts;
- Seek out diversity of perspective to broaden my understanding; and
- Make a reasoned and informed decision taking into consideration all of the above.
Perspective of a MOTHER with school age children: I have 2 children attending school in the Parkland School Division. Over the last few years, my children have been positively impacted by the focus and investment of our Division into childhood health & wellness, resiliency, student self-assessment & peer-assessment. I am inspired to get involved on a deeper level, learn what has been done & how we will continue this movement.
Passion for YOUTH WELLNESS: My service to youth wellness currently includes serving in my 2nd term as the Youth Services Director with the Rotary Club of Spruce Grove and my 1st term as a director with Alberta Parenting for the Future Association. I volunteer with Family Community Support Services in Spruce Grove, am a former vice-chair of my local school council and a former coach with the Spruce Grove Soccer Association. I am passionate about childhood wellness. Becoming a trustee would be a continuance of my service to the youth community.
Navigating Changes in Education: Education in Alberta is governed and affected by many different laws. My experience as a lawyer may be of assistance for our school board to navigate any pending changes to education in this Province. We need to understand, act and find solutions within the laws that govern our system. I am willing to use my legal education and experience to assist this process.
Advocacy: Advocacy is the difference between pointing out a problem and working towards a solution to a problem. We must work with the local and provincial officials to create beneficial change for our children. In deciding whether to bring the Education Act into force or amend and maintain the School Act, the current provincial government has and will continue to consult with school board trustees and we need to be able to foster good working relationships to be an effective voice for our students.
My Hope for the Future
Improved Measurements of Success: Provincial Achievement Tests are provided to students in grade 6 & 9 to determine if students are learning what they are expected to learn and to assess the quality of the education curriculum. My son recently completed grade 6 and I witnessed the significant amount of time and focus in preparation of the exam itself. Are we measuring the right skills & abilities with PATs? Do the exams still align with the purpose of education today? In 2015, Diploma Exam weighting was reduced from 50% to 30% of the final grade, giving greater priority to the day-to-day effort of a student over a one-time exam. This trend also happened in the legal industry in 2005 when the traditional Bar Entrance Exams were replaced with a year long continuing education course. I hope to gain a better understanding of the purpose of these exams and to start a conversation about other possible measurement tools.
Equal is not always fair: This year I received a notice that my child's box of tissues should be labeled and will only be used by him; tissues will not be pooled. Even though some families may voluntarily send extra tissue boxes, this restriction prevents the class from leveraging the economic ability of some to benefit others. This is a simple example that I think could be examined more broadly across the school community. Growing up, I was that kid who might not be able to bring in a box of tissues and through the generosity and caring of others, I was treated equally and free to be a kid. There are restrictions on contributions and fundraising in the school setting. I agree that boundaries need to be in place to protect the values of equal opportunity and school autonomy. However, are there circumstances where we are sacrificing the well-being of a child in the name of equal financial contribution? Should we restrict voluntary contribution in all circumstances? I would like to learn more about the purpose of the regulation and start a conversation to see if there might be another solution to consider.