In my first post in this series, I shared about how I got started as a volunteer coach for kids ages 4-13 in LEGO Robotics. While most who get involved coach 1 team a year, I led 5 teams each year that I coached. I was motivated by the incredible interest from the community and I encouraged parents to become involved too in order to be able to make it all happen.
Below is a photo of some of the team members from one of the teams I coached who were invited to represent FIRST Robotics Canada at the Prime Minister's Science Fair. The project the kids created investigated water use, conservation, and water scarcity in Canada, with attention paid to remote communities. They joked how they got the Prime Minister to "flush their toilet" (a motorized and programmed element of their model).
This is one of the many ways I've volunteered in the community over the years. Each of the 24 teams I coached required a significant commitment, but I've also made room for other important volunteer work. Below are some of the other longstanding commitments I've made.
CONVENOR: In my years on the Lambeth Youth Soccer Executive as a Convenor, I organized teams, recruited volunteer coaches, helped with coach training, developed a Drills & Skills manual for coaches, worked with sponsors to order uniforms, showed up every week to manage division teams, helped organize tournaments, and more.
REGISTRAR: As Registrar, I took the registration and scheduling system from paper to online. This made player info such as medical needs available to all, made scheduling visible at all times to all members, and allowed for easy communication between coaches and parents. I also spearheaded the effort to have children from the same family play on the same field for back-to-back practices and games. As a parent, I know that made a world of difference!
WEBSITE MANAGER: As Website Content Manager, I took the one-page website and built it out to be a full user experience for the community - and kept it up-to-date for the duration of the time I served.
COACH: As a coach, I trained for and then led teams in the U4, U6, and U8 divisions (rain or shine!). I worked with a co-coach in each instance to plan weekly practices and games, keep kids safe and engaged, modelled and encouraged good sportsmanship, and connected with parents to answer questions and share success stories.
1:1 SUPPORT: Helping parents to learn about the education system, their school board policies and procedures, work collaboratively with staff, and advocate for their children's needs. Sometimes this is one phone call or meeting. Sometimes, it's a process of a year or more of volunteering support.
PRESENTATIONS AND MEETINGS: Online meetings to help parents and educators understand Individual Education Plan development and implementation and how to work together for the benefit of the child, seeking additional resources as needed.
FOUNDER AND LEADER:
"Stanton Academy" is a not-for-profit community project I began in 2015 to meet the needs of children in our community. My daily interactions with kids as a teacher in public schools showed me that there was a disconnect between what the Ministry of Education said should be happening in schools (and how they funded that) and what the reality was for staff and students.
In an effort to help kids that were in need, I started a weekly program with a different approach learning and teaching. The following year, I ran the program twice a week. Despite the fancy-sounding name (the kids chose it!), this was not a private school but rather a small learning project that made a big difference for the kids who we were able to connect with.
It was an amazing research-in-action project as I was able to implement educational theory and develop an organizational structure that put the kids first - and that was successful!
All of the time I gave to the Stanton project was provided at no charge. To read more, you can click on this link.
LOCAL CHAPTER PRESIDENT:
Communicating with the Ministry of Education on behalf of the region regarding education successes and challenges within publicly-funded schools
Liaising with Special Education Advisory Committee representatives
Communicating with board staff regarding special education issues
Liaising and coordinating with other chapter presidents in Ontario
Education Liaison Director
Communicating with Ministry of Education regarding Educational Policy; contributed to the proposed revised definition of the "giftedness" exceptionality in Ontario (not yet changed)
COMMUNITY DINNER VOLUNTEER: Preparing and serving community dinners to those in need in our community on a regular basis. This also involves shopping for ingredients, sometimes cooking ahead of time, setting up the space "on loan" for the dinners and cleaning after each meal.
BOARD ADVISOR: I was appointed to this critical committee of the Thames Valley District School Board in February 2019 to provide recommendations based on any matter affecting special education. I have been a very active member of this committee, with excellent attendance (as in all things) and meaningful participation.
I participate: I have put forward several motions that were carried, resulting in important work and positive outcomes for students.
I collaborate: I have also contributed in the smaller team environment of subcommittees/working groups to review special education programming, audit Individual Education Plans, revise the committee handbook, and review the Special Education Plan.
I come prepared: Often, we receive our agenda packages just a business day or two before our meetings, Nevertheless, I read them thoroughly and come prepared with questions and ready for action.
"OK" MOM: One of my children is a member of the Original Kids Theatre Company, a non-profit registered charity serving youth in our community. As an Original Kids parent, I have volunteered in many ways over the past 4 years:
coordinating costume retrieval for parent volunteers
volunteering backstage during dress rehearsals and performances
pulling costumes and props for actors
coordinating thank you gift contributions and purchasing gifts for crew
I'm always willing to do what I can and learn something new to help where it's needed!
Other volunteering projects:
In my 18 years of employment with TVDSB, I also volunteered my time daily to run clubs and sports. I won't write an exhaustive list, but here are a few highlights:
Student Parliament and Student Council
Track and Field
Student dance/social coordinator
Coordinating Evening of the Arts for intermediate (grade 7/8) students
Assisting other teachers with their many volunteer commitments
If you'd like to learn more about me, check out the "Meet Beth" page.
You can see that I am dedicated to this community and that I work to make a difference. I bring that same commitment and energy to my campaign and I'll bring it to the role of trustee. You can have confidence that I will serve you well as TVDSB trustee when you vote for me on October 24.