Pumpkins - Happy Halloween !!!As mentioned earlier, I’m very pleased that my candidacy has been endorsed by the West Vancouver Citizens for Good Government.  The speech I gave the night of the endorsement meeting, and which is reprinted below, focused on my experience as a parent-volunteer within the public education system.  These remarks are also featured in the television spot filmed by Shaw Cable Television, a service offered to all Lower Mainland candidates, and which will air on November 6 at 7:15 p.m. and November 13 at 11:15 p.m. 

I would love to hear from you, so please don’t hesitate to forward your thoughts, comments, questions and suggestions to me.

Remarks presented at the West Vancouver Citizens for Good Government Endorsement Meeting – October 27, 2011

Good evening.  I’m Luc’s Mom, Reema Faris, and I’m running as a candidate for the position of Trustee with the West Vancouver Board of Education.

Why?  

I see it as the next leg of a journey that began when Luc started Kindergarten in 2006. 

I walked into the Parents Advisory Council meeting as a new parent and walked out as the school’s representative to West Van DPAC. That transition, in the space of an hour — maybe an hour and a half — reflects my belief in working for my community.

Since then, I’ve served continuously as a member of the PAC executive including two years as Chair and one year as Co-Chair. 

One of my favourite projects has been the noon-hour Creative Writing Club which I started last year.

I’ve worked with the community of educators at the school and within the district as well as district staff and parents to expand the playground at Ecole Cedardale, purchase laptop computers, enhance the library’s collection, and much more.

I believe now’s the time to translate my experience from that of a parent-volunteer to making new contributions as a member of the Board of Education.

In that capacity, I’d like to make sure the programs we offer equip students with the critical thinking skills they need to cope with our ever-changing world. 

I want to make sure students develop a strong sense of ownership for their own learning.  Let’s make sure students learn to ask questions because they recognize the intrinsic value of learning for the pure pleasure of learning.

What about technology?  How do we integrate technology use sensibly and equitably in our classrooms while taking into account parental concerns?

I’d like to talk about the arts in education and revitalizing board meetings, but two minutes pass by quickly, almost as quickly as my five years as an active parent-volunteer.  

I’m ready to take the next step.  Because I believe the foundation of our society depends on the education we provide our children.  We need a universally accessible public education system if what we want to build is a socially just society. 

My name is Reema Faris and I hope I can count on your support at the ballot box on November 19th.

Thank you.

It was an interesting start to the evening:  when I dropped my son off at the community centre for his activity, we had a small personal collision – his head rammed into my nose by accident.  This wasn’t exactly the preparation I’d been counting on for the All Candidates Meeting hosted by the West Vancouver Citizens for Good Government on Thursday night!  But, as the saying goes, the show must go on.  

 It was a successful outing.  I appreciated the opportunity to address a gathering of West Vancouver residents and voters, and was grateful to the number of friends who were able to attend the event — especially those who don’t normally follow municipal politics and those who drove a significant distance!

Here are the words I shared with the audience:

If you’re an Ian Rankin or Peter Robinson fan, you may think I’m crazy for giving up my ticket to see these two authors speak tonight at the Vancouver International Writers’ Festival.  

Rather than a lapse in judgement, I hope you’ll see being here tonight as evidence of my commitment to this election. 

Good evening.  I’m Luc’s Mom, Reema Faris, and I’m running as a candidate for the position of Trustee with the West Vancouver Board of Education.

Why?  That’s a good question.  Let me start by saying that I profoundly believe in the value of education and the benefits of learning, and I have a passion for the public education system.

Let me also say that may be only part of my answer.  And before you shrug and wave me off for being indecisive, let me explain.

I take great comfort in the question why.  As long as I’m asking why, I’m thinking, I’m reflecting, I’m challenging.  I am looking for answers rather than assuming I have all the answers.  I’m seeking information rather than dictating the way that things ought to be perceived.

To me, this questioning is not about undermining a system and disregarding the work that’s been done.  It’s about validating what you believe, being responsive and  strategic — making changes when they’re needed, when they’re necessary, and making them at the right time.  

This critical thinking skill is a key one for students especially in our increasingly fast-paced, dynamic world. It’s part of developing a sense of ownership for one’s own learning.

In addition to ensuring that students have the opportunity to develop these skills, there are a few more issues I would like to look at if elected.

I would like to work closely with the District team and the other Trustees to ensure that the digital learning environment is one which prepares students for the skills they need without overlooking some of the key concerns parents have about the speedy introduction of technology into the curriculum and the classroom.  This is not about going back to a pre-electronic age, it’s about being smart in the way in which we embrace the electronic era.

What measures can we take to enhance community connections and make better use of combined resources?  Can we provide better leadership and communications training for administrators, teachers, and staff?  How can we incorporate the Arts into our program delivery to ensure that the value of art is held dear by our children? 

Did I mention how much I love asking questions?

I would like to commend Jane, Cindy, and Dave for putting their names forward once again.  My congratulations to both Carolyn and Christine for having the courage to leap into the fray.

My thanks to the West Van Citizens’ for Good Government for putting this event together and my sincere admiration to all of you for taking the time to be here and to be a part of this very important process.

My name is Reema Faris and I hope I can count on your support at the ballot box on November 19th. 

Thank you.