A unique opportunity for 11 people to make a significant, lasting contribution to the public education system we have.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

September 8, 2015


The first in a series on the Burlington trustees on the Halton District Board of Education.

In the next 120 to 150 days 11 people are going to make a choice that could change in a very meaningful way how the municipalities of Burlington, Oakville, Milton and Halton Hills are seen by the rest of the province and perhaps the rest of the country.

Trustees Kelly Amos, Oakville; Amy Collard, Burlington; Joanna Oliver, Oakville; Leah Reynolds, Burlington; Donna Danielli, Milton; Andrea Grebenc, Burlington; Ann Harvey Hope, Oakville; Richelle Papin, Burlington; Kim Graves, Milton; Jeanne Gray, Halton Hills and Tracey Ehl Harrison, Oakville are the elected members of the Halton District School Board and they as a group will vote on who they want to lead the development, administration and delivery of education in the Region.

Andrea Grebnec

Andrea Grebnec – Burlington Trustee

Amy Collard

Amy Collard – Burlington Trustee

Anne Harvey Hope

Anne Harvey Hope – Oakville trustee

Burlington let itself get caught up in the promotional hype of a magazine that chose the city as the best mid-sized city to live in. That Burlington was chosen was due in no small measure to the persuading former Mayor Cam Jackson laid upon the publishers of the magazine. Jackson convinced them to see Burlington as a separate entity and not lump us in with Hamilton – when that was done Burlington began to look much much better.

For a time that line “the best mid-sized city in Canada” was parroted by members of city council as if it was something we had earned – it was an award made up by a magazine to promote their circulation,

There are many many things about Burlington that are positive. But the city doesn’t have much in the way of a provincial or a national profile. Oakville is known for all the people with bags of money that live there and Milton is known for its explosive growth – they also have an Olympic grade Velodrome that was their benefit from the Pan Am games – all Burlington managed to get was a cheque for renting out the City View Park for Pan Am soccer practice.

Burlington seems to want to focus on its geography – the Escarpment to the north and the lake to the south and that’s about it. A nice, for the most part, comfortable community that has its share of problems that it seems to muddle through.

Hamilton is entering a phase that has some buzz to it – the end of their steel manufacturing stage has begun and they are in the process of re-inventing themselves. Two decades from now Hamilton will be THE place to live in Ontario.

As for Burlington – there is an opportunity that is now in the hands of the 11 people who have been elected as school board trustees.

Current Director of Education for the Halton District School Board David Euale has resigned and the search for his replacement is now down to the short list.

Donna Danielli

Donna Danielli -Milton trustee

Jeanne Gray

Jeanne Gray – Halton Hills trustee

Burlington is the kind of city people like to live in – it is safe, not particularly exciting but a reasonably easy place from which to get to Toronto. But is there a really strong reason to live in Burlington? – it certainly isn’t the cost of housing.

But Burlington could be the city that has the best public education school board in the province. Schools matter to parents – just look at the number of private schools in the Region.

Those eleven school board trustees have the opportunity to put Halton on the map – and by extension Burlington as well.

There are schools in this city that parents will actually cheat to get their children into – Tuck is one of them. Why do they do that? Because the principal of that school has made it one of the best in the city.

Why is Nelson High School the superb institution that it?  Why is Bateman such an excuse for a high school? (That is a person opinion – I have had dealings with the leadership at that high school and this is an opinion column.)

It all comes down to leadership – there are great leaders in the public education system and they are always looking for a great board of education to work for – there aren’t a lot of them around.

Imagine what could happen if the trustees made it known that they want the best person there is to lead their board. To say publicly and loudly that they want an education leader who will not only improve our rankings but develop schools where every principal is not only a leader but an innovator.

Kelly Amos

Kelly Amos, Oakville trustee and current chair of the board

Kim Graves

Kim Graves, Milton trustee

Leah Reynolds

Leah Reynolds – Burlington trustee

A director that knows how to motivate and to take risks and create schools that students are excited to go to each day. A leader that has standing and a profile in the community – a leader that has a grip on the changes taking place in the flow of information that young people have coming at them.

A leader that develops high schools that produces Rhodes Scholars – Halton has apparently produced one Rhodes Scholar.

A leader that has high schools that graduate students who are almost automatically accepted at universities because they came out of the Halton school board system.

There is a line in our Bibles about Daniel from which the phrase “Dare to be a Daniel” has come. “God gave Daniel a special task. He boldly accepted the assignment and God used him to change an entire nation!”

As our trustees begin their task of determining who the next Director of Education should be one hope that they will dare to be Daniels.

Richelle Papin

Richelle Papin – Burlington trustee

Tracey Ehl Harrison

Tracey Ehl Harrison, Oakville trustee

A significant step has already been taken in creating a leadership team at the board in the appointment of Jaqueline Newton who has been appointed the Superintendent of Education. Ms Newton was the woman tasked with opening Hayden High school – she did a superb job there and we believe will do an equally superb job with the Board. A Director of Education made from the same mold would be nice.

There are eleven people in the Region who have the power to do just that. If they aren’t all that close to their Bibles perhaps they can fall back on the Nike advertising slogan – Just do it!

Return to the Front page
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Comments are closed.