Jolly Bedi is on a list of eight people all vying for the one seat on the Upper Grand District School Board from Ward 6 and Puslinch.
1) In 100 words or less, what’s your main reason to run for school trustee?
I am a parent who truly believes in the value and power of public education. I wish to empower our students and parents by being their voice on the board. I want to be the bridge that connects parents, school board, students and our community. As an involved parent I have seen how policies and legislation translate into practice and I would like to see more parent input and involvement for this decision-making process. I want to bring awareness of mental health and special needs programs, and ensure youth are aware of co-op and skilled trade opportunities.
2) What is the role of school board trustee as you understand it?
A school board trustee is a publicly elected member of the board who represents its constituents. I believe one of the main roles of the school board trustee is to work with parents, students, schools and communities along with board and province to ensure that our focus stays on student achievement, well being and equity. Trustees also set the local policies, priorities and budget with in the framework of provincial legislation. They are also responsible to ensure school and staff have all the resourses they require to deliver the curriculum and board strategic goals.
3) How do you think the relationship currently stands between the Ontario government and your school board?
The Upper Grand District School Board (UGDSB) and the Ontario government have a common goal that is to provide our students with instructions and all resources so they can be successful.
Knowing this, I believe they have a good relationship.
4) The mental health of young people is a growing priority; how will you help insure that schools get the resources they need to address this important issue?
The mental health of our students is extremely relevant issue these days. In Canada 15-20% of our youth suffer from mental disorder and 6-8% young people suffer from depression. I strongly advocate for a deeper understanding of positive and negative mental health to be included in the curriculum.
Teachers are the first point of contact for our students, they can tell the behavioural and emotional changes in students better than anyone else. We should provide our teachers and guidance councillors with more resources and professional mental health training programs.
I would support the policies and plans that will help to promote the mental health in our schools. We should also promote the mental health awareness activities in the schools to lift the stigma that is associated with mental disorders. Early recognition means early intervention and safety of our students.
5) Guelph will continue to grow in the next 20 years, where and when should the priority be for new school construction?
As per my understanding January 2018, UGDSB received an approval from the province to build a new high school at the south end of Guelph at the intersection of Arkell and Victoria Road.This would be the city’s fourth public high school since Centennial opened appx. 50 years ago and the new school is expected to accommodate nearly 900 secondary students. I am privileged to be a part of the UGDSB Secondary Review Committee as a parent representative from Guelph and through that I have seen the initial work being done towards the new school.
6) While mayor and council candidates talk about city infrastructure, let’s talk about the infrastructure of our schools. How do our school buildings fare? Are they accessible enough? Are there enough resources to address repairs? Et cetera.
I am very new to this and I do not have the required information at this point to be able to answer this question. I can only speak from my personal experience as a parent whose child attended GCVI high school, one of the oldest schools. I can tell that board is doing a great job for providing accessibility for all students.
7) What can the school board do to give teachers the resources to improve how students learn in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) courses?
I am an advocate for mentoring and encouraging our youth. We need to ensure that we have the teachers that are well qualified and interested in teaching these courses. It is very important that our students get extra help at the school, if needed. STEM connects the classroom learning to the real world and makes it easy for student to learn and excel in their field of interest. We also need to spread awareness about STEM in our parent community, so they can communicate with their children about the program and help them recognize their strengths
8) What’s an example of something that Guelph schools are doing well versus schools in other board jurisditions?
I can answer this question based on my own personal experience. In 2014, UGDSB introduced The International Baccalaureate diploma programme (IB) which is a rigorous pre-university program leading to assessments in 6 subject areas. IB offers a challenging curriculum, taught by accredited IB teachers. It develops knowledge and skills essential for an informed, engaged and meaningful life.
I am happy to share that my daughter was amongst the first students to successfully graduate and receive her grade 12 IB diploma in June 2018. Currently she is attending U of G for Biomedical sciences. Along with academic excellence, through this programme I have seen resilience and the development of global citizenship in my child.
9) FRENCH IMMERSION: If you’re running in the Upper Grand District School Board, how do you think the board has handled the pressure of demand for French Immersion? If you’re running in the Wellington Catholic District School Board, should the board be looking at developing its own French Immersion programs to help relieve the pressure?
I am aware that there is a great demand for French immersion schools. Our school board needs to hire more French qualified teachers to accommodate all the student needs in that program.
10) There’s a political question about dissolving the Catholic and separate school board system and creating one school board, what’s your opinion on the issue?
This is not a school board decision and would be a personal opinion. I would need to understand the reason behind this merger and see if there is any research supporting the outcome we are looking for. Furthermore, I would need to look at all the political, economic and legal implications before I can comment on this.
11) Is there an issue concerning education or public schools you feel needs more attention? What is it, and why?
I believe that we need to have more Guidance teachers available to our students in high school so they can choose a pathway for themselves and continue to learn.
We also need to bring more trades to our high schools. We know that there is a high demand for the skilled trade workers in our job market. We should offer our students a variety of hands on courses and more co-op opportunities so our students can experience and choose a pathway of their choice while in high school and not drop out of learning stream.
12) For someone that doesn’t have kids in school, why should they care about who’s running for school board?
Education is for everyone. These students are the change makers and leaders of tomorrow. Educated children means informed citizens. We are moving towards global citizenship. Everyone’s ideas, input can make a positive difference and can help shape our education system. More over all of us contribute toward education through our provincial taxes, so we should be aware as to how well our tax dollars are being spent.
13) Where can people learn more about you, or your campaign, and how can they get in touch with you?