Update October 10/22: This post is getting a lot of views! If this is your first visit to my site, you'll want to know I'm a certified Ontario teacher with 18 years of experience with TVDSB who resigned to volunteer full-time to help those who are falling through the cracks in our school system.
Because it's been asked before, I want to be sure it's clear: the Stanton project was not a private school. It was a project I ran without pay and with participants contributing to materials (at cost) as they were able to in order to fill a need in our community. It was a gift of kindness to the community. My belief in, and support for, quality public education is evident throughout this website. We can do better, together. ✅
I'm also an appointed member of a critical committee of TVDSB and have experience at the local and provincial level on boards and executives relevant to education. Until October 24, I'm also the president of a local chapter of a children's charity, a position I have held for 8 years. Our kids matter.
You might also be interested in this post about my successful support of a local family (one of 100s I have worked with, all free of charge) or this post about my advocacy for cleaner schools for 2022-2023.
Learn more about me here and read my priorities and goals here. You can also read about my many endorsements here. I'm ready to serve you as a virtually-full-time trustee in a role designed for part-time contribution - and I'll serve you well.
In this blog:
6 years of pro bono work in outreach for kids
volunteerism with Phi Delta Kappa
10 years of pro bono advocacy for students and families
I have worked for kids in our community since first becoming a teacher in June 2000. I've been an advocate for quality public education through my volunteerism and membership in the London chapter of Phi Delta Kappa, where I also helped to organize, promote, run, and present for their annual Young Authors Conferences for nearly a decade. I've also been a very active volunteer with efforts centred on supporting children and education.
In 2002, I began helping families navigate the public education system for their kids. Just like our health care system, knowing who to call, what to ask for, and when to advocate is knowledge the public needs but doesn't always have. For the past decade, I have provided my services to families all over southwestern Ontario at no charge. My specialty is special education needs, which are outlined under the Education Act along with the duty of school boards to accommodate student needs.
I do a lot of volunteer and pro bono work in our community. My most ambitious and meaningful work to date has been the project that was "Stanton Academy", which I ran from 2015-2021, pro bono/volunteer.
I started the Stanton program as a response to a real and urgent need to support children in our area who I would say needed a different approach to education that promoted their social-emotional health and intellectual growth than what they were experiencing. The programs, based on research into best practices and models that best support students, drew kids from an hour or more away.
The fancy-sounding name (chosen
by the kids!) makes it sound like a private school. It wasn't - just a quality community-based project to support kids in need that I led as a someone who cares.
The work through Stanton was in line with what the Ministry of Education talks about for kids: Universal Design for Learning and Differentiated Instruction. Put very simply, this is understanding learners and their needs and then planning how to support students' learning in a group environment.
As a public education teacher in TVDSB, I'd found our school system falling short in these areas for a variety of reasons, some of which are within the control of our local school boards. Being able to fully support the kids I volunteered with, particularly those who were attending school in London and "falling through the cracks", has been really meaningful work for me.
Being able to fully support the kids I worked with, particularly those who were attending school in London and "falling through the cracks", has been really meaningful work for me.
Having had the opportunity to work in this way and to see what is actually possible for kids in our community encourages my belief that public education CAN, and SHOULD BE, for everyone. Some say that public education can't work. I disagree - rather, I see that it's our system that needs adjusting - in a few different ways. Having a wide variety of experiences and skills, combined with my extensive knowledge and on-the-ground expertise in education and advocacy, will serve the #TVDSB community well. I'll also listen when you call me because I know the realities our schools are facing. You can vote with confidence for me as trustee on October 24.
If you'd like a snapshot of what I contributed to the Stanton program, I invite you to read the message that is posted on the website:
It has been an absolute pleasure to serve the community over the past 6+ years in my leadership at Stanton Academy. I started this project in response to a need for strengths-based, authentic learning opportunities for neurodiverse children in our community and others seeking a different way of learning for their child. The goals were to support the well-being of children and to provide support to teachers and parents working through formal learning environments. It was such a pleasure to bring children together in a community that welcomed and nurtured children, many who had exceptionalities or learning needs including autism, ADHD, giftedness, specific learning disabilities in reading and writing, anxiety, medical needs, physical differences that required accommodations and more.
Over the past 6 years, I planned Stanton's year, coordinated with volunteers, developed targeted curriculum for three different age groups based on their interests and readiness to learn, planned lessons, gathered resources, communicated with parents, managed the budget, supported parents behind the scenes and at parent meetings for planning, and more. I didn't advertise it, but all of my contributions have been free-of-charge. I see donating my expertise is a way to the betterment of our community.
Stanton was not designed to compete with public education - that would go against my strong beliefs in the importance of public education to society. Instead, it was offered as an alternative - a supplement - to support the social, emotional, and intellectual well-being of children in our community. This past year, a decision was made to put Stanton's programs for children on hold while community volunteers committed to public education focussed on the increased need for parent and student support in public school settings full-time.
That need continues to exist and so our programs for children will not be running in the 2022-2023 school year so that I can focus on helping as many children as possible. I've missed the community and culture of Stanton and I appreciate that Stanton families understand the guiding principles behind this mission and support me and other volunteers to ensure every child can have what they need to be able to learn.
As we know, when we can plan to meet the needs of special education students, the whole community benefits. I will continue what was originally Stanton's secondary mission of supporting parents and teachers along with volunteers who join me. Thank you for your support.
Your friend and leader,