39Reasons: Reason#17 17

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.

They were only 17 in total, quiet and sitting up straight at exactly 90 degrees, eyes facing forward, at least in the presence of their teacher

When spoken to they would reply with a “yes, Miss”

Eager for every moment their teacher spent with them, I was thrilled to be a part of something with this group

Their teacher called me during her lunch break to share that she noticed that the group was disciplined and respectful, but that something was missing

She imagined a classroom where these children would be active, engaged, shooting their arms up into the air eager to offer insight or ask a question

She imagined laughter and play, the same any educator would want to see in a child as they learn and grow

So there we were, asking the students what kinds of games they played back home, what they did for fun, and what they wanted to do if we stayed together after school

“GAMES!”

We heard it loud and clear

We now knew that after so much uncertainty these students had arrived and were ready to make this space of learning their own, something they didn’t have before

We invited their parents to hear what their children wanted to do after school and they added some suggestions and the opportunities grew

We informed some youth from a neighbouring secondary school and they were excited and keen to walk over after school and hold the space for these eager students

Finally, we had the leadership of a retired teacher who had the energy and desire to help us create a safe and meaningful space for these students after school

There we had it, a growing room of educators, youth volunteers, parents, and of course, the students

We gathered twice per week from 3pm to 5pm facilitating activities where the students ran and shrieked in excitement with their hands in the air and their little feet pounding the pavement

At 5pm parents would arrive to collect their children who were never ready to leave

The group of youth volunteers were debriefing activities and excitedly planning what they would do for the next session asking us for guidance, support, and resources

This group of 17 students, brought such creativity out from all of us

They grew up and entered high school eventually and would find me in the halls to say hello, ask questions about their schedules and let me know that their group leaders who were now in Grade 11 and 12 were also looking out for them as they adjusted to life in high school 

Even after a 10-hour day, the classroom teacher took time to catch parents up on the daily activities and progress of the students, she took time to acknowledge and thank the youth volunteers, the other educators, the retired teacher, and the students for making the space what it was

Opportunities to engage students in their learning environments are of critical importance. Educators who take the time to stay after hours, offer space and support are the change makers of these spaces for students and children in their communities. Take every opportunity to thank your educators for their dedication and their commitment.


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