Rhonda Kershaw says it is time to remember that a trustee position with the Kamloops-Thompson School Board (SD 73) is there for our students and their education; and that a strong voice is needed to speak for those students.
“So much of what the School Board does is not for public consumption, and a lot of the work done is by their committees, whose meetings are not generally advertised – but when it comes to setting policy it should be a more public process,” says Kershaw, “This is why I am running for the position of trustee for our School District, I feel that I can be that strong voice.”
Kershaw notes her background is in community planning, and she worked for 10 years as a community planning consultant all over western Canada. She has a diploma in civil engineering from the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology.
Kershaw says she moved to Barriere in 2003. While she has not been a teacher, she does have two children currently in the school system. “I have served for three years on the local municipal council in Barriere and am currently the chair of the Parents Advisory Council (PAC). If elected, I will step down as chair of the PAC.”
Kershaw states she would like to see our rural schools get back to being more a part of their community. “There is a sense these days of a disconnect – a ‘hands off’, when it should be a ‘hands on’ – between the community and their schools.”
When asked about her priorities for the school district, Kershaw responded that her priorities are to ensure quality educational experiences, particularly for rural students, and to encourage increased community participation in school activities and learning.
“It is extremely important to ensure the basic foundations of education are strong, but children also need to understand the role they can play within the community,” said the candidate, “It would also be great to see more events such as the recent field trip the students made to the Provincial Winter Fair; and if elected trustee, I will encourage more interaction between the schools and the communities.”
What does she see as the biggest issue facing the school board at this time?
“The accelerating pace of education and maintenance of funding, and programs that keep up, is a challenge facing school boards,” answered Kershaw, “Increased access to technology provides infinite opportunities, but also requires a proportional effort to control, maintain, and capitalize upon. Education must be approached creatively in the future to maintain relevance.”
The Barriere/Little Fort school trustee position covers an area that takes in all of the TNRD’s Area ‘O’, as well as the District of Barriere. Area ‘O’ also includes Little Fort, Darfield, Chu Chua, Louis Creek, Agate Bay, Brennan Creek, and the Barriere Lakes.
“Each trustee is expected to visit each school at least once a year, but I don’t think that’s enough. I would try to visit them more often,” noted the candidate.
She noted that Simpcw First Nation is part of Area ‘0’ as well, and while they have their own school, it is not part of School District 73 (SD73). However, with their Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreement, they do partner with SD73 on some of their programs such as the Raft River Salmon Run Field Trip. Kershaw would like to see more such partnerships.
Kershaw says she loves the idea of the trades and technical programs, as well as the arts programs that are offered in Kamloops, and she is interested in the possibility of some of those programs reaching the rural communities.
“The School District also needs to continue and maintain the programs currently in place that are geared towards the agricultural and forestry industries. Any increase to the knowledge base made available to our students can only be a good thing.”
Kershaw says she feels that the question of whether education in B.C. is underfunded or not, is a hard one to answer, but says there certainly is the perception by the general public that it is underfunded.
“Not having served on the school board previously, I am not in a position to comment further on this, but I do look forward to learning how the tax payer money that goes in is spent.”
When asked about what she would most like to bring to the table, Kershaw responded, “Neighbourhood learning centres are an exciting step for education, and would complement the provincial goal for personalized learning for students. Opportunities could be explored to further diversify learning options.”
“I want my children to get the best education possible, and to be able to stay in Barriere to get it.”
You can contact her by visiting her Facebook site: Rhonda Kershaw for School Trustee.