Recap: Elect Michael Janz Campaign Benefit Brunch

This morning Sharon and I joined a few dozen other fans and supporters of Michael Janz at the City Arts Centre for a benefit brunch for Michael’s campaign. Michael is running for Public School Trustee in Ward F, which means he’s been working extremely hard since at least May to talk with as many people as possible. Voter turnout in the 2007 election was abysmal, and it was even worse for school trustees, so it’s important to get the word out.

There was lots of coffee, thankfully, and a tasty breakfast prepared by some very dedicated volunteers! The event was a good opportunity to chat with others who care about what Michael is doing. Michael did give a short presentation as well, updating us on how is campaign is going, highlighting key campaign points, thanking volunteers, and outlining the work ahead as we inch closer to October 18.

I really like Michael’s position that the school board has a greater impact on our communities than just on the schools within them. I think that was made abundantly clear earlier this year with the school closures that took place. I encourage you to check out Michael’s site for more information on his priorities, but here are the key bullet points to whet your appetite:

  • Work to keep schools open.
  • Transform schools into community spaces.
  • Support students with special needs.
  • Empower and engage citizens.
  • Ensure a well-funded education system.
  • Make the school board more accessible.

I’d also encourage you to check out this article that Michael wrote on the issue of special education.

Elect Michael Janz

You can see a few more photos from the event here. You can follow Michael on Twitter, on Facebook, or you can email him. Election day is October 18.

Learning about the Edmonton Public Schools Foundation

Yesterday I attended an information session at Evansdale School on the Edmonton Public Schools Foundation, which launched on February 10. I admit I hadn’t even heard of the foundation until Jeremy mentioned the information sessions to me! I’m glad he did, because it was really interesting to learn about.

Our host for the session was Sandra Woitas, the director of the foundation. She has had a long history with Edmonton Public Schools as a teacher, consultant, and principal. After everyone had introduced themselves, we heard a little about Evansdale School and some of the unique programs it hosts. Next, Sandra welcomed two high school students who spent a few minutes talking about the experiences they have had during their time in the Edmonton Public School system. After that, we got into the information. Sandra gave an excellent overview of the foundation and how it came to be. Here are my notes:

  • The idea for the foundation came in 1996 from then Superintendent Dr. Emery Dosdall. He wanted to include a broad selection of stakeholders to help raise the profile of Edmonton Public Schools.
  • For the next decade or so, the idea floated between administration and the trustees. It wasn’t until trustee Bev Esslinger revived the idea that the ball got rolling again.
  • The foundation is meant to serve the 70% of Edmontonians who pay school taxes but don’t have a connection to the schools (either no kids, or their kids have graduated, etc).
  • In addition to raising the profile of Edmonton Public Schools, the foundation will advocate for improving public education here in Edmonton.
  • One of the areas of focus for the foundation is early childhood education. As Sandra said a few times, “either you pay now or you pay later.” To that end, they hope to raise money for early learning.
  • Full-day kindergarten programs would be one beneficiary. The first was setup at Norwood school thanks to a donation of $78,000 from Denny Andrews. Based on the success of that program, 24 other full-day kindergarten programs were setup throughout the city. There are apparently 15 more on a waiting list.

To finish off the session we were treated to a quick tour of Evansdale School. The school is multicultural, with students from over 40 countries! It also features a number of unique community outreach programs. We visited the full-day kindergarten classroom, and a music class as well. The SMART board in the kindergarten classroom surprised me – I learned that every classroom in the school has one! It was really great to see.

Edmonton Public Schools Foundation

Everyone who attended the session left with gifts! You can see the Evansdale mug, and the beautiful placemat created by a grade six student at the school. The bag of seeds came with a little explanation from Sandra: “what we’re doing with the foundation right now is planting seeds.”

If you’d like to support the Edmonton Public Schools Foundation, tell a friend about it! Or consider attending the fundraising breakfast on May 20 (on ShareEdmonton).