Monday, Oct. 16, 2023
Student trustees kick off year with professional development
Near North District School Board (NNDSB) approved the attendance of Indigenous Student Trustee Albany Benson and Student Trustee Dora Chen at the Ontario Student Trustee Association (OSTA) general meeting. The meeting takes place next week in Toronto.
Sessions for student trustees include the history and vision of OSTA, breakout sessions for public, Catholic and Indigenous student trustees, workshops that cover developing public speaking and presentation skills, social media campaign planning, mock budget simulations, designing effective community events, and seminars that cover Indigenous education, time and stress management as a student trustee, navigating university applications and scholarships, and conflict resolution and mediation. All student trustees will have to opportunity to hear keynote and plenary speakers and have sessions with OSTA’s board of directors.
Attendance at the OSTA general meeting is the most recent of the professional development opportunities provided to Indigenous Student Trustee Benson and Student Trustee Chen. In September they attended a student trustees’ orientation webinar hosted by the Ministry of Education. The session provided an updated overview of Ontario’s public education system, with a focus on board governance, and the opportunity to engage with peers across the province about their roles in representing the diversity of student voices at the board table.
Student Trustee Chen says, “I have had a successful start of my term as the student trustee for the 2023-2024 school year. I had the opportunity to attend a student trustee orientation, held virtually by the Ontario Ministry of Education earlier this fall. I was introduced to the OSTA president, whom I am very excited to collaborate with this year, to continue expanding the advocacy for student voice in the northern region.”
Indigenous Student Trustee Benson also attended the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association (OPSBA) Northern Region Caucus for a special gathering of Indigenous Student Trustees organized by OPSBA’s Indigenous Trustees Council last week.
Indigenous Student Trustee Benson says, “As a new Indigenous student trustee, I have already been given so many wonderful opportunities and learning experiences. Connecting with the Indigenous youth has sprung upon me so many great ideas and connections, I look forward to making more changes to ensure our youth are heard.”
Student Trustee Chen says, “I am looking forward to working with more student trustees from all over Ontario at the OSTA-AÉCO fall general meeting held in Toronto Oct. 19-22. I am grateful for these professional development opportunities, which have helped me learn about different leadership tactics, public speaking skills and outreach strategies, facilitating my transition into the role as student trustee, enabling me to better represent the students of Near North District School Board.”
Sarah Spence, principal of student achievement and well-being, says both student trustees have been involved in their respective councils before (Student Senate and the Indigenous Youth Circle) which has helped prepared them for these leadership positions. Additionally, the student trustees are coached by NNDSB staff.
Board Chair Erika Lougheed says the student trustees’ positions are important for several reasons. “Having the two student trustees’ reports lets the rest of the Board know what’s going on in NNDSB secondary schools, but more importantly the student trustees are leaders who bring student voice to the Board table.”
Director of Education Craig Myles says the student trustees are valuable members of their individual school communities, as well as to all students in general. “NNDSB is happy to invest in the personal and professional development of these outstanding young people. They have important roles representing their peers at NNDSB.”