Just the Basics
I'm a parent, special advocate (pro bono), educator from TVDSB, innovator in education, successful community leader, and team player.
I've been actively involved with TVDSB for more than 22 years as an employee, a volunteer advocate for families, and TVDSB board advisor.
Some of the work I have committed over the past several years:
- pro bono advocate for 100s of families in Ontario to help them navigate the public education system
- President of the Association for Bright Children London Chapter
- TVDSB's Special Education Advisory Committee member (speaking up for decisions affecting all children)
- TVDSB handbook committee to revise guidelines
- TVDSB audit committee for 2021-2022
- TVDSB special education programming review
- founder and leader of a volunteer and not-for-profit educational program for kids "falling through the cracks"
- provincial executive of an Ontario children's charity
- 18 years as a TVDSB teacher in schools with diverse populations and community needs.
- business person with experience in planning, accounting, budgeting, auditing
Experience in Education
I'm a certified educator in Ontario with 22 years of experience, 18 of which were as an employee in TVDSB. I'm also a longtime advocate for public education and the academic success and well-being of students in our schools. I have supported many families in TVDSB and across Ontario (unpaid) to help them navigate the system. I've been very active on a critical board committee in TVDSB since my appointment in February 2019 and been influential in several positive key decisions made at the board level. I've also spent time actively researching and implementing education policy in Ontario in innovative ways. I know the realities of our system and believe we can do better, together. You can read more about my work at the board, my advocacy in Ontario, and more on my blog. I want you to know what I bring to the table.
I'm honoured to have served the community in many leadership roles, including as the president of a local chapter of a children's charity, as the founder and leader of an innovative education project for children in the community, as Education Liason for a provincial charity, and as a member of the executive team for an active and successful youth soccer league here in our community. These are the official roles associated with my leadership, but I also lead by example in my community through volunteer involvement, continuous work to make a difference, and acting with integrity. Effective leadership requires that you are chosen and continue to be chosen to serve. I've been repeatedly chosen to serve in all roles.
As a school board trustee, communication skills are essential. It's necessary to have open, transparent, and ongoing communication with the TVDSB community, staff, the broader community, and fellow elected officials. Being approachable and open to listening really matters. My campaign itself speaks to my ability to communicate (my website and social media presence, my many online events to engage, the way I have been available for calls, texts, and emails, and my responsiveness to the community). However, my ability to communicate is evident beyond this and has been visible in TVDSB at board meetings where I engage and present, in significant letters and documents I prepare and share with the community in mind, and with the way that I engage intentionally in civil conversation and responsive listening to promote an environment where consensue can be build and progress can be made. Even so, there are times when I have found myself needing to stand up for public education and students in TVDSB, even when I have been standing alone. I can do this respectfully with a strong voice for the community and have demonstrated this time and again.
Those who know me can speak to my integrity. I do the right thing, even when it's hard. I value honesty, transparency, and accountability. Here is one recent example I can share to illustrate my integrity: This spring, I uncovered major issues with the special education plan in TVDSB and brought my concerns to the committee on which I sit. I had a document with more than 100 pages highlighted and stickied on a virtual call but due to insufficient time for the committee as a whole to dicuss issues and with some members expressing strong confidence in the plan, the committee recommended the board approve the plan. I then worked during almost all of my waking hours for the next week to prepare a solid report trustees could view and hopefully direct staff to make changes to the inaccurate and missing information before posting it for the community. I also prepared a full presentation to the board to inform them of concerns. As a member of the community, I could only inform others, not use a vote to require staff to add the missing information and correct inaccuracies in July before seeking approval from the board and posting an improved document later. Let me tell you that it was difficult to be standing alone in that work with the association I volunteer with, especially after others had approved it, but I'm so glad that I did. My conscience is clear and, for the first time in corporate memory, many trustees voted to not approve the special education plan, signalling to staff that they agreed it was not ready for the public. That they read my report, asked questions, and voted accordingly was an encouraging sign that change (and improvement) is possible. This is just one (detailed and recent) example of me acting with integrity. You can count on me to speak up when something's wrong, even when it's hard. Even if I'm standing alone.
When I commit to something, I really commit! You only need to look at my employment record and volunteer experience (below) to see this. You can also see that my commitment is to education, initiatives that benefit children, and to helping others - and my commitments result in increased positive impacts for the community!
Broadly, governance refers to the ability to assign decision-making responsibilities, setting the strategic direction of an organization, developing policies to support system work, limiting risk, monitoring progress toward goals and making necessary adjustments based on results, and maintaining oversight. Through my work in various areas, I already have a significant amount of experience with manty aspects of governance, including policy and procedure development, strategic planning, and monitoring progress toward goals through intentional and meaningful goal setting and collection of information. However, since putting my name forward to serve as your TVDSB, I have been focussing even more on this aspect (yes, it is possible to learn even more, despite my experience!) to ensure you have the leadership you deserve.
Essentially, this is the ability to see the big picture. This requires the ability to understand complex data, see the relationship between policies, procedures, and big decisions and predict their impact on the community (something I have an excellent track record with!), and make good decisions based on this. Some call this good judgement.
Ability to Work for the Benefit of
the Entire Community
When we elect strong leaders, they usually have extensive experience and expertise in a particular area. I'm no exception. I am an expert in special education and twice-exceptionality and provide advice, guidance, and training to parents, teachers, and organizations locally and in the wider community. My expertise has allowed for important work to be done, but my interests and abilities extend beyond special education and my public input to the board over the years speaks to that range of interests and ability to contribute meaningfully on a number of issues that matter to the community. I am absolutely capable of seeing the big picture and prioritizing the needs of our community. For anyone concerned about bias, it may be helpful to know how special education is funded in Ontario and that boards are allocated funds specifically for special education. I AM interested in the "how" of allocation to make sure resources are wisely used in ways that have positive impacts on students, but with my support of all exceptionalities in the community and on the expert committee of TVDSB where I sit, there's no danger of me prioritizing one group over another. My track record speaks loudly on that.
I frequently say, "We are better together." and I mean it. A board is composed of individuals and no one person can attain the vision of improved student achievement and well-being alone. We need to be able to listen to one another, understand, empathize, reflect, and communicate our own ideas in a way that promotes positive discourse. I'm very experienced in this area, having worked with others toward a common goal and seeking consensus through my work with various organizations, committees, and executives.
Time and Resources to Serve
I put my name forward to be elected at this time because I am able to release myself from other commitments and focus on serving the community. This means I will not take another job, enroll in more areas of study, take on large projects, etc while serving you this term. This is difficult for many to assure, since trustees receive a small honorarium for their work and really need to invest a significant amount of time in order to fulfill the responsibilities of the role, in my opinion. While we both grew up in difficult circumstances, my husband and I are fortunate to now have the resources to serve the community and make commitments like this. We are happy to be able to serve the community and contribute to it being a better place for us all.
Proven Track Record
I sit on different committees and have been a part of several organizations - but I don't ONLY sit. I contribute meaningfully in every instance. When I commit to a role in the community, I take it seriously and make sure I am knowledgeable, prepared, and action-oriented. I have made meaningful and positive impacts in all roles - including in TVDSB.
Note that I have made arrangements to step away from almost all of current responsibilities so that I can give the role of trustee my undivided attention. I will still volunteer with Original Kids Theatre Company and, if elected, continue my work on SEAC as a trustee there.
8 years as President, ABC Ontario - London, pro bono/volunteer work
8 years as Parent Mentor for families with special education needs across southwestern Ontario, pro bono work
8 years as an administrator of parent groups for children with special education needs and those in alternative learning environments, pro bono work
6 years as the founder and leader of Stanton Academy, volunteer & not-for-profit community project for children in our community, pro bono work
4 years as a Parent Model Group Facilitator for SENG, an organization focussed on mental health and well-being of children (not-for-profit)
4 years as a parent volunteer with Original Kids Theatre Company
3 years as a member of the TVDSB's SEAC/Special Education Advisory Committee, pro bono/volunteer work
TVDSB SEAC Handbook Subcommittee, 2021-2022 (volunteer)
TVDSB Special Education Plan Review Working Group, 2022 (volunteer)
TVDSB Giftedness Program Review Working Group member, 2022 (volunteer)
TVDSB IEP Audit Committee, 2022 (volunteer)
Volunteer (I actually made a detailed blog post about this):
6 years with FIRST Robotics as a volunteer mentor and coach to over 20 teams
6 years helping to plan and lead PDK London's annual Young Author's Conference
4 years as a volunteer preparing and serving community dinners
4 years as a youth soccer coach
3 years on Executive for youth soccer: Convenor
2 years on Executive for youth soccer: Registrar
2 years on Executive for youth soccer; Website Manager
2 years providing art program outreach for seniors
1 year on TVDSB SEAC Giftedness Program Review Subcommittee - committee disbanded after completing mandate
2 years attending TVDSB SEAC (Special Education Advisory Committee) meetings as a guest before being appointed to the committee
Paid employment (see section above for pro bono work):
Educator in Thames Valley District School Board, working with elementary students grades K-8 (2000-2018)
Formed relationships with children and families to support student well-being
Active volunteer in the school community, providing children with spaces to connect and feel a sense of belonging through extra-curricular engagement
Collaborative and leadership roles at the school level through many committees and leadership positions
Collaboration and teamwork at the school and system levels through committees and task forces
Leadership through professional development of teachers and teacher candidates
Mentor of teacher candidates, nominated for Associate Teacher of the Year on a number of occasions
Wrote curriculum and guiding documents for the board
Leadership through professional development at the provincial level
15 years bookkeeping and billing for a small business owner