Bad News, Good News
What kind of school experience do you want for your child? Of course, that’s a loaded question. Every parent wants “the best” possible educational experience for their children.
Unfortunately, much of the funding for the ‘extras’ in BC’s public education system falls upon the parents and others in a given community. This is why so much of what a Parent Advisory Council (PAC) does is about fundraising (when really, the purpose of a PAC should be about building community). In an ideal world, “the best” educational experience would be fully funded by taxpayers and a PAC would just focus on fun-raising. But that’s a whole different topic.
Given this (current) reality, the good news is that practically anything is possible when an active parent community partners with the school administration & staff and unites behind a shared vision informed by shared values.
Shaping The Year: A Vision Starts to Form
To answer the question of what our community wants our children’s educational experience at Van Horne to be, we embarked on a very interesting discussion at the beginning of this year. The journey started at our PAC meeting back in September, where a group of about 30 parents went around the hallways in groups brainstorming ideas in different categories, such as creativity, parent education, compassion, events, etc. The ideas generated were truly inspiring. We then compiled these results and went on to survey the greater community. In a sign of a very engaged community, we had 89 parents fill in this survey. Let’s dig deeper into the results.
The Big Takeaways
The big takeaways from the Shaping The Year survey are as follows (check out the full results here and please note that the colour codes sometimes change meanings, unfortunately, so for example, “Agree” is sometimes red and sometimes it’s yellow):
- The community is most interested in these three
- Makers Space
- Water Filling Station
- The “Forest Project”
- The community is most interested in these two
- Indoor activities for rainy days
- Outdoor supplies for recess and lunch
- Most parents are interested in activities that their kids can participate in, such as bake sales, popcorn/hot chocolate events.
- These four parent led or sponsored activities were
the most popular:
- Gardening programs
- Dance club
- Volunteering in the community with seniors/animals
See something you’re passionate about? Please fill in this special volunteer form or, if you have questions, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org . We’re building ‘people capacity’ and we’ll need interested humans to nurture and energize these projects over the coming year(s). Please note that these ideas, if they get enough parent support, are still only proposals to the school. There’s many things for teachers and administration to consider before a project can go ahead (space, resources, impact on curriculum and other programs). The last thing we want to do is overwhelm parents, students, school administration or staff by doing too much at any given time.
How Can We Parents Contribute?
Here’s some of the interesting responses that came from parents in our survey when asked “Are there any other Parent Sponsored ideas or talents that you would like to contribute to the Van Horne Community?”:
- Recycling workshop
- Art and sculpture club
- Outdoor/nature club
- Math / science club
- Group/family bike rides
- Flea market or garage sale held on the school grounds on the weekend
- A school newspaper
- Writing/graphic novels club
- Kids News TV
- Bike to School
- Anatomy and physiology for kids
- Setting up more sports teams
Want help bring one of the above to life? Dive in and add your name beside a particular idea. There’s no guarantees it will happen and there’s no obligation for you to commit, but if and when, we’ll contact you to spark something if it gets enough support from all the stakeholders involved, particularly teachers and students.
What Else Could The PAC Fund?
Here’s some interesting responses when asked “Do you have any other ideas for how to spend PAC funds that you want to share?”:
- Grass/turf field instead of gravel field / less pavement
- Improved PA system
- Warm, safe, dry places to do activities alone outside
- Ask families to donate used board games
- Improve school ground security
- Green thumb theatre
- Assemblies to talk about social media safety
- Musical theatre
- Micro-community grants ($100) for parents to ‘build community’)
- Social events with staff/teachers
- Fund cool prizes for “TEAM” winners
- Morning (before school) activities to offer fun and safe place for kids who get dropped off before 830am at school
- Less funding for technology in classrooms
- Fund sex education (e.g. Saleema Noon)
- Fund music / theatre
- Partially help fund for expensive field trips
- Bring in an autism demystification program (Friend 2 Friend)
If you feel strongly about any of the above, I invite you to come to a PAC meeting and advocate for it! You’d be surprised at how quickly things could happen when values and people are aligned.
Teacher and Student Feedback
We’re going to share this nascent vision and the raw survey results with both teachers at Van Horne as well as the student government in order to gather feedback and generate conversations, alignment and excitement.Want to support this vision?
We’re building a list of willing and able individuals that are interested in nurturing and energizing various ideas. Signing up to one of the ideas does not mean you’re obligated to do anything; it just means you’re INTERESTED in actively supporting the project. If and when these ideas get the green light by various stakeholders, such as teachers, THEN we’ll talk about who wants to be actively involved and in what capacity. Be bold and toss your name into the ring!