Retired principal Larry Berry vies for UCDSB Trustee

Courtesy photo

Candidate for Upper Canada District School Board Trustee

1. What prompted your decision to run for the school board this time?

Several issues prompted me to seek election as a trustee on the Upper Canada District School Board which is the English Public Board.

A recent decision by the Upper Canada Board was to keep Seaway open for the next few years. This is a decision with which I agree. Seaway and North Dundas High Schools are both considered small schools and offering a full program of courses is a challenge. Therefore, now there is a need for the board, especially the administrative staff and teachers to create and offer meaningful courses at these schools. This initiative is already started at the board and I hope to participate and encourage this work. Especially exciting is teacher supervised E-learning classes.

Another reason is that the principal and staff do not seem to form ‘a team’ in SOME schools. Part of the reason may be because Ontario legislation in 1998 made principals part of management and teachers became part of a union. There is little a board member can do about the legislation but a board member can review board policies and the role of the principal to encourage the collegial ( team approach) model of school operation.

I enjoyed my career as a teacher/principal and feel I can contribute as a board member. If elected it will be rewarding to be involved in education again.

2. What are the strengths you would bring to the job if elected?

Communications – being a good listener serves one well in education. I would communicate with all stakeholders by attending School Committee Meetings, responding to individual contacts, attending the board meetings in person, keeping in touch with local township councils, reading the local media and being in the schools at special events and sporting events.

Experience – with two degrees in education and having taught for over 30 years I have a solid knowledge of how children learn and can apply that knowledge and experience to making board policies and support good teachers in the classroom.

Work ethic – I am ready to work at this role – Public School Trustee!

3. What are the top few issues that you see facing the board?

As mentioned above, a current issue is the need for programming at the high school level. This is connected to the emotionally-charged, huge issue of School Facilities i.e can these small high schools met the needs of students in 2018 and beyond?

4. Is there anything you hope to change in the Board?

From my answers above it should be evident that I am not advocating large changes. I see my contribution to the board as re-examining existing policies or creating new policies to support small high schools, support good classroom teaching and encourage student achievement. Keep in mind that there are 11 voting members of the board. In order for a member to get a motion passed or anything done at the board they must have the support of the majority of board members. Therefore, I plan to be a contributing member, serve on committees and support the common goals of the board. Hopefully, my ideas will be accepted as part of the board goals and initiatives when these are being formed i.e get my ideas into the board plan which serves as a guide for the Director, Superintendents and other board staff to implement.

5. How is your message being received during the campaign?

In Dundas, north and south, there are over 14,000 English Public School taxpayers. I have had contact with many but mostly people who know me having taught in Dundas for 22 of my 30 plus years in education. These people know me as a diligent worker and a sincere person who took his job very seriously, so they are supportive.

Really there have been few questions. Two lobby groups have approached me and in both cases I am supportive of their case which is helpful.

In a sentence, I feel well supported so far.

 

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