An Edmonton Public School trustee does many things for students

In my role as a trustee for Edmonton Public Schools, I am often asked to come and speak to Grade 6 students about civic government and explain the job of a school board trustee. Having never worked as an educator or as a classroom teacher, it is truly a pleasure to share with students the reasons why I ran for elected office and why electing a school board trustee matters. 

Without a doubt, the best parts of meeting with students are the questions that percolate during our conversation.

Do you have an office? Yes. Are you a teacher? No. Do you get paid a lot of money? No. Do you have kids? Yes, two, and they are fun. Are you like the mayor? No. Can I vote for you? No… at least, not yet. Why do you do this job? 

It’s that final question that always makes me stop and smile. Without fail, every single Grade 6 class I have visited—be it a student at Hardisty, Virginia Park, or Ivor Dent—asks me the why question. Why do I do this? 

I do this job because I believe in public education. I believe that families, parents, students, and communities need to have a say in how public education is delivered in Edmonton, in Alberta, in Canada, and in society at large. I believe that public tax dollars should be spent intelligently and prudently to educate the next generation of citizens.

Trustees are advocates of public education. We are elected every four years, at the same time Edmontonians elect our mayor and city councillors. There are nine trustees on the Edmonton Public School Board, and the areas we represent are called wards. Our main job is to oversee a budget of $1.2 billion dollars and set the vision and direction for public schools in Edmonton. 

This past year our board drafted a new vision statement: “Success, one student at a time.” I like this vision; It speaks to the importance of each student in the Edmonton Public School district, which is the fastest growing district in Alberta with more than 3,000 new students enrolling for the 2019-2020 school year. I hope this vision inspires people and serves as a reminder that success means different things to different people. 

September is like the new year, a time full of promise and hope for the year ahead. I set goals for my personal life as well as my professional work as a trustee. It’s a time for renewal for me and my colleagues, and for the board as a whole as we get back to work. 

I am looking forward to serving our community during the school year ahead. I always welcome your phone calls and emails about concerns or questions you may have, or your advice about how I might do my job better. 

To the Grade 6 students out there: get your questions ready. I’m keen to visit your classes and talk about the things a publicly elected trustee can do for you.

Featured Image: Trustee Trisha Estabrooks (second from left) with the rest of the Edmonton Public School Board trustees. | Supplied