39Reasons: Reason#12 35Minutes

This story is among the #39Reasons I am running as a Trustee for Vancouver School Board (VSB). Each story is based on my experience working at the VSB for over 7 years with CUPE and PASA.

Lee started the year with her bright smile pushing into her chubby cheeks

In June, we learned from her elementary teachers that, while she appears shy, she has a gentle demeanor that shines when she contributes to class discussions, usually only once and usually last

We also learned that her family struggled to cover rent with multiple factory jobs and that lunch was not always a given for her as she was 1 among 4 in her family

It was late December when I found a time for twelve educators to get together, almost four months into the school year

There we were, shoving cold food into our mouths, trying to establish a plan of action to support students who had become disengaged

We learned that Lee was someone who we shared concerns about

She started moving to the back of the class, then she stopped putting her hand up to contribute, finally she started disappearing for entire blocks in the middle of the day

A counsellor added that when he met Lee in September he learned that moving from elementary school to secondary school had been a big shift and she was anxious about having multiple teachers and having to move to a new classroom for each subject

I was able to add that Lee shared with me that the class size was just big enough to be anonymous if she wanted to

“I have a lot of different teachers and they don’t really know me”

The picture of Lee grew, from the contributions of her elementary teachers to this rushed meeting that lasted all of 35 minutes, we had a better understanding

While we talked with our mouths full, the warning bell rang and we agreed that her teacher for the next block would reach out to her and offer an opportunity to share    

A week later, it was in a rushed hallway that I followed up with that same teacher who said that, after checking in the with Lee, she called upon her to contribute in class - Lee agreed to write a little about the volunteering she was doing in the community and her attendance was getting better

I saw Lee again, and her smile was brighter, I asked her how high school was going and she said, “it’s going great, my teacher really likes me and she thinks I’m good at writing, so I’m starting a journal for class”

These twelve educators made the time in their perpetually crammed schedules to connect, discuss and problem-solve to make a difference for Lee. Lee still writes today and she still finds time to contribute to her community and share that brightness with others.   


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