Boards of education are an important part of municipal governance, but often overlooked. As part of the Mountaineer’s coverage of the upcoming municipal election we’ve asked trustee candidates for the Revelstoke School District 19 Board of Education to share how they can help enhance education in our community.
According to the British Columbia School Trustees Association trustees “engage their communities in building and maintaining a school system that reflects local priorities, values and expectations.”
We asked each of the candidates to answer three questions about their qualifications, key issues, and what they’d like to achieve as a trustee. Here are the responses from candidate Garry Pendergast.
What are your qualifications for the position?
I have been involved in education all my working life. First as a teacher in Hove, England, then as a Headteacher (principal) in Worthing, West Sussex and finally in Brighton. I also worked as an education consultant the year before I emigrated to Canada in 2005. My bachelor and master’s degrees are both in Mathematics Education. In Revelstoke, I worked as Screen Smart Coordinator for 2 years and was a member of the Early Childhood Education Committee. In 2007 I started as an instructor at Okanagan College and still work there in a part time capacity. I worked as the instructor for the Education Assistant program from 2010 to 2016 and this work involved liaising closely with all four schools in the City. As Arts Council Executive Director I worked with schools to provide students with more live performance opportunities. With the Revelstoke Performing Arts Centre housed in the High School, I spent a great deal of time in and around the school.
I served as Treasurer, and then Chair of the British Columbia Touring Council in 2010 and have a great deal of experience working on and with a Board that uses the Carver Model of Board Governance.
As a trustee, what key issues would you like to advance?
I am passionate about education and with a School District that is performing so well, the overwhelming issue will be for that to continue.
However, the current shortage of teachers in the Province, which fortunately has not yet impacted Revelstoke, could become a real challenge and I would like to see the School Trustees support any initiatives that encourage teachers to move here to work in our schools.
Education Assistants are an integral part of the classroom, and I would like to see increased support for them as they work with the students who need our help the most.
Support for students who are challenged educationally, is another area that I am very interested in. I would want to see that they continue to receive the best education that Revelstoke can provide.
The safety of children is paramount. It does concern me that, particularly at the start and end of the school day, there are too many occasions when students and vehicles share the same spaces. I would also like to see the current open access to school buildings reviewed.
What would you like to achieve as a trustee?
As a Board trustee I want to work effectively as a member of a team to provide the highest quality of education for all students. The School District has some of the best support staff I have ever met, but the number of students in need of support is increasing and we need to be ready for this.
Funding is always a concern. I would like to advocate for increased funding for the school district so that we are able to maintain our ability to provide a first class education for our students.
The training and development of teaching and support staff is very important. The need for up to date, relevant training, is necessary if we are to maintain a healthy workforce in the school district.
Whilst we need to use conclusions carefully, the findings of the recent Middle School Development Instrument and the High School Student Well-being Index, do show some areas of concern, I believe with increased support for students with mental health issues they can be addressed.
Our Early Childhood Development work is excellent. We need to continue to support this area of work and maintain its success.