39Reasons: Reason#15 Losing Sam

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.

He had a face like I’ve never seen before

His form said he was twelve, but his face was that of a man that had lived through enough uncertainty to be cautious at every turn

When we met, his skepticism could not be clearer, no smile, eyes forward, laser focused on the floor, distrust and intent on figuring me out, I was on

Placed in a centralized support class, he understood and nodded – the opportunity for extra support and a dedicated counsellor would be helpful along with a smaller class size and adapted materials with support staff

Class the next day and his seat was empty, no show

“He’s not ready, he’s not functioning at a grade 8 level” it was assumed that he had voluntarily decided not to show up that day, potentially a future drop-out  

If it wasn’t for the outreach of a support staff, we wouldn’t have known that he was far from a drop-out – his mom worked two jobs, but it wasn’t enough for his bus pass

As a group of concerned educators, we did what we do, we gathered and problem-solved and enrolled him in a bike program run by a teacher at his school

He learned bike safety and we helped him secure a bike, helmet and lock so that he could ride to school

If it weren’t for support staff, he would be stuck at home, contributing to the drop-out statistics and we wouldn’t be able to help him access his education, we would have minimized his struggles

If it weren’t for support staff, we couldn’t have brought this concern before an elected board of trustees to advocate for at least a few bus passes that we secured for a handful of students, for a couple of months of that school year

I imagine a situation where services are offered equally and with a lens to equity

I imagine this situation in our education system, can you?

His face changed, I catch him laughing with friends, I see him enjoying after school activities and even joining in sports groups

This is the difference a support staff can make and when we’re losing them it means we’re losing Sam too

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