Busy annual meeting features special guests, resolutions and award presentations

The P.E.I. Home and School Federation held its 60th anniversary annual general meeting in Charlottetown in April, and despite a stormy weather forecast, 100 delegates and guests from across the province were in attendance.  The meeting was successful on many levels from the business session to extra celebrations and recognitions marking our anniversary event.

Guest speaker Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development Hon Alan McIsaac addressed delegates in the morning, highlighting the department’s events, successes and challenges, including establishing one board for efficiency in the system and the importance of maintaining strong partnerships. He also acknowledged Home and School’s outstanding role in P.E.I.’s education system.  McIsaac emphasized that dealing with issues together is key.  He also took the opportunity to answer questions on current issues from delegates.

An information exchange received positive reviews on evaluations. Delegates broke into small groups to discuss the following questions:  
If you could make one change at your school, what would it be? 
How is the PEI Home and School Federation helping your school and what could we do better? 
How well do you feel your child’s school is preparing him/her for the next academic year? 
How well do you feel your child’s school is preparing him/her for life?

Comments focused on increasing communication, the value of exams in preparation for post secondary/ life, improving technology towards 21st-century learning, respect, more career counseling and raising the bar for the children.  Afternoon workshops were reintroduced this year with three one-hour sessions presented.  Peter Rukavina spoke about Prince Street’s TeacherNet wireless project. Ricardo Angel led the online lunch ordering system, a huge time-saving endeavour used by Sherwood and Westwood schools, and Eileen Higginbotham spoke about Puppies in School, an empathy project.

Past presidents joined the delegates for the luncheon and were recognized collectively for their many contributions to home and school 1953-2013.  The federation also recognized Tom Wilkinson, who served the federation in many capacities over a number of years dating back to the early 1970s, as our inaugural Honorary President.  Wilkinson inspired many parents and teachers to join together in advocating for children’s education on the Island and across Canada, serving as national president of the Canadian Home and School Federation.

The federation was pleased to have guests in attendance to bring greetings during the luncheon, including P.E.I.  Lt. Gov. Frank Lewis, who is patron of the federation.  Fred Osborne, chair of the English Language School Board and Cynthia Fleet, superintendent, English Language School Board brought greetings.

A Home and School Volunteer of the Year was presented to Brenda Fraser who was recognized for her many contributions in building successful and positive parent engagement opportunities to create and support the best educational environments for students in West Kent and Queen Charlotte home and school associations.

Resolutions discussed and passed during the business meeting focused on creating open and authentic communication between all stakeholders in education and improving various aspects for healthy and safe school communities for students.

Stone Park Home and School presented a resolution requesting the departments of education and health to work together to provide substance abuse education for students, parents and educators.  Also,  the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development and the English Language School Board will be asked to include parent representation on committee work to gain parents’ perspectives on issues. Also, a request was made for the valuable information collected in the SHAPES survey to be made available to parents and Home and School associations and that both the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development and the Department of Health and Wellness consider cross-board appointments to improve communication and planning opportunities.

When resolutions are acted upon by the various agencies, Home and School benefits, as well as ultimately providing improved parent engagement that works to raise standards in education for Island students.

The federation’s 2013-2014 board welcomes new members Ellen Campbell, board secretary, Margie Donovan, region 2 director and Shelly Keenan, region 4 director. Peter Rukavina will serve as vice-president.  The efforts of outgoing board members, Lisa Geldert, Raeanne Kinch, and Karla Thompson, are much appreciated by the Federation.

In closing, a reminder that this is the month to nominate a school bus driver to receive the 2013 School Bus Driver of the Year Award from the P.E.I. Home and School Federation. The deadline is May 17, 2013.  More details are at:  https://peihsf.ca/bus_driver_award

Written by Pam Montgomery
PEI Home and School Federation