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LISA MACDOUGALL: A vision for P.E.I. education

Kate Dempsey, a program facilitator with Women's Network P.E.I.,discusses consent as Birchwood Intermediate students, clockwise from right, Sam Harding, Justin Gallant and Tyler Larter listens. It's All About Youth Program was a pilot project presented to Grade 7 students in some P.E.I. schools over the past four years.
Kate Dempsey, a program facilitator with Women's Network P.E.I.,discusses consent as Birchwood Intermediate students, clockwise from right, Sam Harding, Justin Gallant and Tyler Larter listens. It's All About Youth Program was a pilot project presented to Grade 7 students in some P.E.I. schools over the past four years.

What would your school look like if you could design it? What are your dreams for the students in your school?

What are the most important aspects of education to consider during the planning process? How big is your school district? Is it a small district where everyone knows your name or is it a large district where there is access to many resources? Are there connections to other organizations or locations outside of the school? Travel? Can spaces be designed to encourage quiet reflection? Creativity? Are the spaces created to emphasize individual work, collective work, work from a distance, or other options? How are students grouped? How is success defined? What are students learning? Who should be part of the discussion? What else should be considered?

These questions and more will be discussed at our semi-annual meeting. We have invited architects, planners from public works, government representatives and community members to join with us in designing a process for school change that works for citizens.

If we decide that the vision for education in P.E.I. should be that every child will reach his or her full potential, then our systems, policies and programs should reflect that. With an openness to new ideas and new ways of doing things, along with collaborative spirit and collective empathy, we can achieve that vision together.

The semi-annual meeting will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 24, 5:45-8 p.m., at Central Queens Elementary School, Hunter River. Registration packages will be mailed to Home and School presidents, and each school is encouraged to send representatives.

As always, the federation is available to provide leadership training, facilitate meetings and to help bring people in school communities together around common goals and visions. This year, leadership training opportunities will be offered that are tailored to the needs of local associations. Facilitators can help bring community members together to discuss common concerns, define their visions for their schools or develop plans for action on school food. Contact the PEIHSF office at 902-620-3186 or, toll free, 1-800-916-0664, for more information and to book a parent leadership and engagement event.

The federation has representation on the committee that will adjudicate the Community Food Security and Food Education Grants from the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, which are due Oct. 15. Home and School associations interested in this grant opportunity are encouraged to seek out partnerships with other community organizations and non-profits. Office staff, the Healthy Eating Program officers at the Department of Health and Wellness and the community development officers at the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries are available to assist in this process.

While the federation commends the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for its work on these grants, this is a small piece of the school food picture in P.E.I. It will continue to advocate for a universal provincial school food strategy for all Island children and to bring people together around this common purpose.

The next meeting of the board of directors of the Public Schools Branch has not yet been scheduled, but watch its website for the announcement. All federation resolutions and policies with responses from government and other decision-makers can be found at www.peihsf.ca.

 

Lisa MacDougall, president of the P.E.I. Home and School Federation, lives in North Rustico with her husband and two children. Her column appears in The Guardian during the school year on the first Thursday of the month. She welcomes comments from readers and information for the column. She can be reached at peihsf.ca or 902-620-3186.

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