Posts Tagged: election

Spoiled Ballot

The 2017/18 BCSTA Board of Directors taking their oath at the 113th AGM.

It’s the day after the BC School Trustees (BCSTA) Annual General Meeting (AGM). I must admit, it was one of the strangest experiences I’ve ever had. This year, I did not put my name forward for the 2017/18 Board of Directors. I’ve served for 3 years on the board and I am very happy of the work that we accomplished. I was surprised how many people asked me “why I was not running” throughout the entire AGM. Let me rephrase this. Some members did not realize that I was not running during the AGM. It was more like “you’re not running?” That was shocking. Pre-conference materials, nominations from the floor (with names of candidates posted on the screen), candidate forum, and speeches… and still some members did not know I was running. I’m not sure if I was suppose to campaign to my colleagues that I was not running, but I was humbled by the kind words that many people had to say.

The other weird experience that I had during the AGM was being outside of the campaign. This was the first time in many years that the BCSTA had an election for the position of President. I’ve seen one other election for the position of Vice-President. Most times it’s an election for the position of Director. Strangely again, there were very few candidates for the position of Director. Not going to lie, I felt great not having to campaign throughout the weekend, think about what strategies to take to woo the voting membership, and stand on stage to the judging eyes of my colleagues. This was exactly what I was trying to avoid for the last month because I wanted to spend more cognitive time with my dissertation… and I did. The election campaign for President was even more interesting. Personally, I was conflicted. I did not have neutral feelings, but I did not have a clear “winner” in mind either. For me, it was a neck-and-neck race. Members would come up to me to ask if I had any information to impart to sway their vote because I knew the candidates relatively well from being on the Board of Directors with them for the last two years. Long story made short, I had nothing to offer to bring solace to sway their vote.

Before the AGM, I anticipated that there would be 3 clear tribes within our membership… those who supported one candidate, those who supported the other candidate, and those who were undecided (like me). The AGM was a struggle for me. On the one hand, I was wrestling with the whole notion of not running and fielding questions of why I was not running (e.g. complete my dissertation and defend). On the other hand, a president and the other positions of vice-president and directors had to be decided. I must admit… it got ugly. When people started engaging in the politics, it just wasn’t the same. What do I mean by that? Aside from people looking for some information on one candidate versus another, others would approach me to tell me which candidate they were supporting and/or endorsing. This was fascinating to me. I was confident that they were clear with their why and their vote, but I was undecided. Sounds strange, I know. I should know, right? Not the case. As a result, I felt like I was perceived to be supporting “the other candidate” if I did not agree. That was telling to me, in the big picture… about politics, self-interest, and integrity.

My local school board knew how I felt. They could see my internal conflict. What I love about my board is that we can have a team huddle where some members of my board had a candidate that they were fully supporting and some were undecided like me. We discussed the candidates and the election the day before the vote. I love how we could be candid with each other, but no personal crap (aka. drama) got in the way. It’s a level of mutual respect that I truly love and not take for granted. By election day, I was still undecided. In my mind, it was still 50/50. Because of this, my board offered me one of our four votes. There were five of us at the AGM. This was the kindest gesture I could of imagined. They mutually decided the three votes and I was given one for myself to decide. I was overwhelmed with the decision but wanted to make one. That said, I was not big and bold enough that I could completely step away from the vote even though I imagined I would have.

The dilemma persisted up until the ballots were collected and I did not vote in the end. I get it… that’s not a spoiled ballot and the title of the blog is somewhat misleading. That said, it’s very much like a spoiled ballot because the ballot would not count. Either way, it felt good not to vote. I could not decide and unintentionally, I didn’t. My conscience is free from making that decision and luckily the outcome was not within a one-vote difference. I would have felt horrible if that was the case. I am a firm believer in the democratic process and believe that every vote counts. I was happy that the assembly decided which candidate they wanted as their president and vice-president. Looking at the numbers, both rounds of voting were relatively close. The decision was not easy to make and I empathize. I truly do. Overall, I am very pleased the 2017/18 BCSTA Board of Directors as a whole. I look forward to all of the work that is set upon them by the membership at AGM. I wish them all of the best and hope that they will do their best to represent membership boards in the province as well as advocate for quality public education in BC.

I loved my work on the BCSTA Board of Directors. I loved being the liaison of the BCSTA Legislative Committee this year and BCSTA Education Committee (now renamed the Professional Learning Committee) for two-years previous. I am grateful for the people I have met as the VISTA Branch and previously the Metro Branch Liaison… and I am honoured to be part of the BCSTA Learning Guide (a curriculum for school trustees and boards of education) Working Group Committee. I would absolutely agree with Past President Teresa Rezansoff who said to the 2016/17 Board of Directors that we have left many fingerprints behind. We did. Thank you to all of the BCSTA Staff and kudos to our CEO Mike Roberts for all the work he has done with the Board of Directors to steer our organization along.

This was an excellent BCSTA AGM. I loved connecting with trustees from around the province as we move forward together to improve public education for all students in our communities via governance, policy, and decision-making. Being on the Board of Directors was an awesome experience and I am honoured to have represented boards of education over the past few years. Now that it’s the day after AGM, there is no question in my mind that I made the best decision for me.

Success Stories

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BCSTA AGM 2016

Wow… the BCSTA (BC School Trustees’ Association) AGM has ended and it’s time for me to get back to writing mode, parenting, and all that I do that is edu-related. THANK YOU to all those who had supported me at the BCSTA AGM. I am so honoured to represent you all again as BCSTA Board of Director. And, thank you to all those who put their names forward. This is not an easy thing to do… putting yourself out there amongst your peers with hopes of appealing to them and representing them at the provincial table. I have a high regard for those who have the will, love, and intention to advocate for BC public education… and even more so for those who put their names forward for the Board of Directors annual election. I look forward to working with the 2016/17 BCSTA Board of Directors as we head towards the provincial election next year in May and making BC Public Education a priority.

The BCSTA AGM 2016 was a success. The opening keynote with Samantha Nutt and ending with deliberation at the AGM. BCSTA is a member-driven organization and the Board of Directors seek direction from it’s members from motions from AGM and Provincial Council, but also from its members directly. I love the diversity of our 2016/17 board but also continuity of many of the board members returning from the 2015/16 board. I was absolutely surprised that the board of directors were elected with only ONE BALLOT. Normally, this would take 3 to 7 rounds of ballots. This sent a message to me that it was very clear to the assembly who they had wanted on the 2016/17 board of directors. However, this blog is about SUCCESS STORIES.

First I would like to mention Gloria Jackson who topped the polls this weekend. She was nominated from the floor by her colleagues from the BCSTA Aboriginal Education Committee. She is the outgoing chair of the Aboriginal Education Committee. I loved how her colleagues from this committee nominated her, supported her, and introduced her to everyone in their network during AGM. It was amazing to see how membership can wield a particular outcome. Coming from the floor, Gloria handled the Candidates Forum and 3-minute speech beautifully. I appreciated the support from her family (AKA. BCSTA Aboriginal Education Committee), I enjoyed working with her as a member from the BCSTA Education Committee, and I look forward to working with her this coming year on the 2016/17 board of directors.

Second, I would like to mention Stephanie Higginson who placed a close second in the polls. She too was nominated from the floor last year at AGM. She is a grassroots advocate and has been an excellent addition to the 2015/16 board of directors. I much enjoy her passion and motivation to activate. Stephanie is also an educator and academic who has invested her time as school trustee, public education advocate, and parent of her two little boys. She did exceptional at the AGM as well and delighted to see that members welcomed her return. To follow up, Alan Chell is a stable pillar to BCSTA and I appreciate his knowledge, expertise, and clarity. Both Stephanie and Alan are a pleasure to work with on the board. Then, Donna Sargent and myself round out the 2016/17 board of directors. Thank you to all those who provided me with feedback and encouragement. It’s going to be a great year.

Third, I would like to mention school trustees. Admittedly, I was not campaigning as much as I should have during the AGM as I would rather connect with individual trustees, to get to know them better, and gain a deeper understanding of what is. There is always a story behind what we see and sometimes this cannot be established without taking a moment to get to know person and figure out what is motivating a person (or board) to do what they do. I am also curious as to why people become school trustees. Some trustees are former educators while others come from PAC (parent advisory councils). After the election and AGM, I took the opportunity to hang out with some trustees after hours at the pub. This is a great way to connect with trustees without worrying about speeches, campaigning, or making an impression on others. I am grateful that some trustees are willing to chat about their school districts with pride, but also share some personal stories about themselves.

There are two trustees I would like to mention without mentioning their names. I feel connected to these two and wanted to know more about them. I have great respect for both of these trustees. They have so much to bring to their boards of education. They are both parents, but not former educators or PAC members. They are community members with a vested interest in public education. I love their authentic nature, expertise and knowledge of their communities and work, and contribution to public education. They are both kind and generous… and apolitical. They are just fun to be around with. I feel very fortunate that they shared a few stories about themselves. They talked about their childhood, schooling, and where they are today.

As much as I thought I had much in common with these two, after listening to some of their stories I felt that I had nothing in common. I felt uneasy about sharing my stories because they are nothing like their lived experiences. These two had vulnerable home lives as children, a grade 12 education, and few fond memories of their K-12 experience. Yet, these two are the nicest people, extremely successful professionally, family-oriented, and wholehearted in the truest sense. And, they think that I am much younger than I truly am. This is a good thing. What we do have in common is our love and devotion to BC public education, governance, and doing what’s best for our students. I am aligned to these two, as well as many others.

I appreciate these success stories. We all want to make a difference in BC public education. Thank you for the time together… as well to all those I had the chance to HUG and converse with during AGM. We’re doing great work. Keep it up!!!

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