School trustee candidates gathered for a forum at Thunderbird Hall on Oct. 12. Photo by Mike Chouinard/Campbell River Mirror

Campbell River school trustee candidates Q&A #1

Candidates discuss what public schools mean to them

The Campbell River Mirror has asked the candidates for school trustee questions around public questions, and we will be running the answers in the candidates’ own words in the days leading up to the Oct. 20 election. We did ask both Susan Wilson and Shannon Briggs to answer them too, though each has won by acclamation. Wilson chose to answer the questions, but Briggs declined, citing time constraints around a recent move. Manfred Hack’s answers came in late and have been added to the end. (NOTE: We inadvertently ran another candidate’s answer in Daryl Hagen’s section and have changed it from the original posting. We’re sorry for the mix-up.)

1) What has the public school system meant to you and/or your family?

Andrew Beaudin – The public school system has meant to me to be a place I can trust to send my children, and now my grandchildren into a caring and safe learning environment for all. From K-12 the system of learning with in a curriculum using teaching resources that will train them up and equip them for their working lives.

Kat Eddy – I am going to answer it from a personal standpoint. Public education for me meant hope, connection and the support of a team of adults who saw potential in me as a child. I am an only child raised by a single mother in an impoverished situation. When I entered the school system I was embraced by caring adults who helped me to believe in my own value, praised my capabilities and helped me understand and overcome my weaknesses. I’m sure that every person has that one favourite teacher who they connected deeply with and who acted as an inspiration to them.

As a parent I again have an opportunity to connect with brilliant educators who help me to inspire my own child, to understand his learning style, and to embrace the changes as he works to find his own place as a learner.

Ted Foster – My mother was an elementary teacher in S.D. 71, Courtenay, retired with a modest pension after taking years off to raise her family. I went through the public school system many years ago plus my four children all attended local public schools in Campbell River. The school experience aided immeasurably in preparing me, and more recently, my children for the challenges that face us all as we progress through this thing called life. My children and I have reaped the benefits of that extra effort, that caring and making a difference attitude commonly shared by educators of all stripes. The examples of teamwork, encouragement and plain help when he needed it most changed a somewhat introverted son into a school athlete, role model and class valedictorian back at the time of the millennia. The public school system has been very good for me; I have served as a trustee for 10 years, this is my fifth election and I still feel the desire and responsibility to continue putting something back / helping others. It’s called community service!

Richard Franklin – I have devoted most of my life to public education. After graduating from high school, I attended UVic where I obtained a M.Ed in Educational Administration. I worked as a teacher and administrator in public schools for 34 years, 31 in Campbell River. My three children attended school in Campbell River and my two grandsons will be attending School District 72 schools in the next few years. A solid, public education provided my children with the foundational skills to pursue professional careers; my son works in social media, my eldest daughter is a chartered accountant, and my youngest is a research scientist with a PhD in biochemistry. The public system gave my family a high quality education, and thus the opportunity to work hard and find success in whatever field they chose. After retirement, I wanted to give back to the public education system by serving as a trustee. British Columbia, as shown by international testing, is one of the highest performing public school systems in the world. It has been my honour to have contributed to it.

Daryl Hagen – Before we moved here we moved several times and then we arrived at Campbellton school, I was in Grade 3. It was not the best of experiences, my teacher, if we were bad, would make us bend over in front of the class and break the pointer over our butts (I failed Grade 3). We then moved to Willow Point school where a teacher and the principal saw a scrawny little boy and challenged him to get an A ( it was a bribe of $1.43). I had never seen so much money I ran home studied and got an A. Part of the deal was to move me up to Grade 4 as well. I never looked back, graduated from college the president of my class tried out for Olympic high-jumping team and from there I’ve always worked with young people. I’ve been a school trustee now for 28 years trying to repay some of the debt to those good teachers who were change makers in my life. I hope in that time I’ve helped be part of a team that has created an environment where no one is left behind.

Linda Jay – I have worked as an educator for most of my life, with emphasis upon the post-secondary system. All educators understand the public school system as an inherent foundation to the preservation of a just and democratic society. Children in our public schools can experience rich learning from qualified enthusiastic teachers. This, combined with the support of good role models throughout the community in sports, arts and cultural knowledge, offers our children a healthy, positive path toward becoming responsible citizens.

Personally, I started as a substitute teacher (all grades) in SD84 before moving into the post-secondary system and my son is currently completing his high school requirements.

John Kerr – I grew up in a family that could be described as ‘working poor.’ I attended a one-room country school for the first eight years of my formal education. My time in high school gave me the skills and desire to go further in my education and I graduated with bachelor’s and master’s degrees. I became a teacher and school administrator and spent 34 years doing a job I loved. The public school system gave me the opportunity to earn a good living, raise children who did well in school and who are now successful adults. Now the public school system is giving me the opportunity to give back to the community through my work as a trustee. The public education system has had an immense and positive effect on the lives of my family and me.

Vanessa MacLean – The public school system has meant a great deal to me and my family. All three of my siblings and myself completed K-12 in the public school system. I started at Pinecrest, and then completed my middle and high school years at Robron and Timberline Secondary. My time in school was momentous and foundational in its contribution towards my academic achievement, as well as personal relationships. At school, I learned my fundamental basics including literacy, writing and arithmetic. I also developed strong physical education skills as I spent most of my school years competing in various team sports including soccer, baseball, track and field, volleyball and basketball. Moreover, the amazing teachers I had really helped create a healthy social, academically challenging and supportive environment, where I felt I could thrive. My schooling years were also where I made lifelong friends and built my social life. I also faced various challenges while in the public school system, from peer pressure, to group dynamics and team work, as well as public speaking. These were critical, formative years, and they had a significant impact on my life. This is why I have such huge concern for the public school system, and why I care so much about the quality of education students are receiving. Today is an hour like no other. Children are facing greater difficulty in their foundational years than I ever did, and I am concerned for the welfare of their education and ultimately, for their future. One large concern is the explicit nature of the sex education which is being introduced to children as early as kindergarten. Many of the concepts these little ones are hearing were not introduced to me until beginning around Grade 7. Why such a drastic change? Children don’t need to have their heads filled with sexual content. This only leads to further problems like early sexual relations, and pornographic viewing. One other very concerning issue is the SOGI 123 teaching resources which encourage children to explore their ‘gender identity,’ decide which pronouns they would like to be called by, and even suggests teacher should avoid saying things like, “boys & girl,” for fear of offending someone that identifies as transgender, cisgender, neutrois, pangender etc. (71 different gender options on facebook to date: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/facebook/10930654/Facebooks-71-gender-options-come-to-UK-users.html.) What is even more alarming, is that if you do not agree with the beliefs around SOGI 123, you are labeled as being hateful, and may even face ostracization. It is because so much is at stake for today’s youth that I am fighting for parental, teacher and student rights in this election. There are political agendas infiltrating our schools that have no place in an education system that has declared itself as an establishment that is to remain politically neutral. Freedom of Speech is being quickly eroded from our schools due to SOGI 123 resources that demand students and faculty to agree with its radical ideologies or risk losing their livelihood. Education is an essential building block of a thriving society. We must again ensure it remains a place free of political agendas and biases, and focuses on the fundamental basics of a strong education; fostering stable, thriving, and capable individuals whom are able to contribute to a healthy society and positive growth within their communities.

Joyce McMann – I believe our public school system is fundamental to a healthy democracy. Providing equal access to quality educational experiences throughout the formative years is critical to maintaining a strong and healthy social, economic, and political society.

My own experience of our local school system was pivotal in helping me form the goals and confidence to tackle life’s challenges. My two children graduated from Carihi. Both attended French immersion programs. One transferred to English in Grade 9, and was given the opportunity to participate in the ACE-IT carpentry apprenticeship program that set him on the road to a career that he continues to enjoy and earn a living from. The other graduated from French immersion and went on to UBC. Each has taken very different paths, but the trajectory of their lives has much to do with the experiences they had at school. I believe the school experience to be a powerful force in shaping who people believe themselves to be and how they interact with the world. That is why we must strive to make our schools places where all people can feel safe, valued, inspired, and challenged to be their best selves.

Christian Stapff – I have taught in the public-school system for the vast majority of my teaching life. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that public schools perform very well, especially here in British Columbia, on a national and international basis. It is one reason why other countries are happy to have their students study here, graduate here and pursue future work if they migrate here. Both my children are products of the public system and have benefited from dedicated, caring and highly professional teachers and administrators. I believe the schooling my son received prepared well him to be responsible, hard-working and focused in his university studies.

This system is a vital part of our education processes as it provides the opportunity to all students to make something of themselves and do something with their chosen career field, not just in university or college, but also through trades and diploma programs. I and my wife are both products of public school education and, when given the choice of public or private school, the choice was an easy one.

Public school for me has always been about equal opportunity, learning ethical and good behaviour, including others by making them feel part of a group, standing up for those who are different and in the minority, those who may be vulnerable to harassment. Public schools to me represent the idea of treating people fairly, without fear or favour, or making status and privilege the determining factor with respect to belonging.

Peter Sutherland – I started teaching high school aged children in the public education system at the age of 35 after a severe injury left me unable to continue in my current occupation. It turned out to be the most rewarding and challenging experience of my life. My parents were teachers, my grandparents were teachers, I never thought it would never happen to me too, but I am so glad it did. We all have one or two teachers that had a great effect on our lives, and I’d like to thank my Grade 11 English teacher for the effect she had on my life. She found I had a reading disability and worked to help me correct it. Self-confidence and self-respect can be embellished by good teachers that have time to commit to their students.

Susan Wilson – My grandfather was a school trustee; my mother taught children with special needs and ESL. My father had to leave school early to run the family farm. With such contrasting experiences, our family really saw the value of public education. To me, the public school system is like a mosaic, where many different parts come together to make a whole, where differences and individuality are accepted and valued and contribute to the whole.

Manfred Hack – For me personally (1956-1963) my Grade 6 teacher, my Grade 10 and 11 teachers made a positively major impact on my life. Had I not had them in my life I’m not certain as to were I would be today.

For my family especially, one of my grandchildren it has been a different story. The public school system failed to the point where we finally had to keep the child home for home schooling and private tutoring.