Brenda Hooker: Answers to DPAC Questions

DPAC questions emailed to trustee candidates October 28th, at 8:30pm. Answers received from Brenda Hooker November 2nd

1. What do you think is important to parents in the district?
I think that the most important thing to parents is that their children have safe, nurturing learning environments at schools they either choose or are situated in their neighborhood. However, parents also want to ensure that schools have curriculum that engages their children and teaches them the skills they will need when they leave the K-12 system. I think another important thing for parents is to have an education system that listens and responds to concerns and issues when they come up. They want teachers and administrators who care for their child as much as they do and will address concerns in a positive and collaborative manner.

2. Why are you running for trustee?
I am running for Trustee because I truly believe Nelson Mandela’s quote that “education is the most powerful tool with which to change the world” and I want to do what I can to change the world through our SD57 students. I think I bring a responsive, collaborative leadership style to the Trustee role and that my accounting designation adds a financial perspective to each Board discussion. I worked hard this last term to truly learn the governance role, the workings of our District and to address the concerns of each education partner group. I would like to continue as Trustee as I want to continue to be an advocate for our SD#57 students. I am also excited to be a part of education transformation. Hopefully we will have labour stability for the next few years, allowing the focus to be on updating curriculum and practice to a format that will really engage and excite kids.

3. What have you done to prepare yourself for the role of trustee?
To prepare for the Trustee role, I have set about educating myself. I read extensively, attend all the training and workshops I can, conduct research online and meet with stakeholders at every opportunity. I had previous experience in local government but needed to learn how the Trustee governance worked. Before I put my name forward in 2011, I researched the issues and made sure I felt I could be value added to the Board team. I was humbled to be entrusted with your children for the last three years and I have continued to work hard in making sure I am preforming the role in an accountable manner. I strongly advocate for our children at every local and provincial opportunity but to do that I need to be well informed about all the viewpoints and issues.

4. How will you ensure that the schools in this district are safe and caring places for all students?
Our Board implemented a new LGBTQ policy, created a live “safer schools” binder, are active in the provincial ERASE movement and have provided training and professional development for staff. Going forward, we are still working on a new safe schools policy. I believe a growing area of concern is cyber bullying and again I have extensively informed myself on the issue. To make schools safe and caring, we need to ensure we have policy in place and the tools for staff to implement policy fairly and consistently. We also have to work on relationships and education in schools. Research overwhelmingly indicates that safer schools are created by having children connected to caring adults and thus a relationship they feel comfortable confiding in if they are having struggles at school. I want all our children to love school and remove the barriers they may feel prevent them from wanting to be at school. Schools need to develop a culture of caring and tolerance and the Board needs to do everything they can to ensure that happens.

5. How do you see your role as trustee in relation to the superintendent and staff?
The Trustees are the employer of the Superintendent and the rest of the staff are under his/her purview. Trustees also have to have a working knowledge of the District so we have to be aware of the operational side of the District through information on staff activities by the Sr. team. I have often reassured our Sr. team that in-depth questions are not a vote of no-confidence but just a need of mine to ensure I have all the information necessary to make good governance decisions. However, we are also a check and balance for the system. Our role is to also gather information from all our stakeholders including the Superintendent, DPAC, P/VP’s, PGDTA, PEA and CUPE. Information and issues from all these sources then need to be rolled up into the best governance decisions for our students. Overall, I see the Board and Sr. staff as a team working together for the best of our students through enacting those good governance decisions.

6. How will you demonstrate and communicate the accountability and transparency of the school board to parents and to the community?
The accountability and transparency of the school district is of paramount importance. We are elected to be the public advocates in public education. School board governance is an emerging issue as the MOE has hired a consultant to review the Auditor General’s report on the matter. I think that the strategic plan will help guide the new board in ensuring we are more accountable and transparent. As well, I would like to see us review our liaison structure, how we conduct two way dialogue and our committee structures. One idea I had was to hold an open house with the board once the board book is out to collaborate and gain input on pending decisions. Personally, remaining accountable is very important to me. Let me give you a recent example: at one of our forums a concern was raised, I followed up with the individual to gain more info and then had the item placed on an agenda to see if we can address the concerns before our mandate is over. I am always available for a phone call, email or a coffee as your information and issues can only be addressed if I am aware of them.

7. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
It has been an honour to serve as one of your Board of Education for the last three years. I sincerely appreciated the confidence in 2011.Then I ran on three promises; to work hard, to be accountable and to serve with integrity. I have followed through with those promises and would like to continue serving for another term. However, there is an excellent slate of candidates to choose a team from. I am excited and curious to see the team complied for students on Nov 15th. I appreciate the opportunity to provide my thoughts. If you would like further information contact me on Facebook at Re-elect Brenda Hooker, Twitter at HookerBrenda, email blhooker@shaw.ca, or call at 250-961-3659.

http://www.princegeorgecitizen.com/your-vote-matters/candidates/incumbent-seeks-fresh-term-on-school-board-1.1418581

http://www.pgfreepress.com/hooker-seeking-second-term-on-school-board/

http://www.250news.com/2014/10/07/brenda-hooker-seeks-second-term-on-school-board/

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