Student Trustees Ready to Lead the Way to Learning, Well-Being and Belonging
MONDAY, MAR. 20, 2023
rand Erie is thrilled to welcome new and returning Student Trustees following the results of Student Senate elections this month. The team of three will provide consultation, representation and input into decision-making for the 2023-24 school year, and following a few years of pandemic-related disruptions to learning, are setting their sights on rebuilding the supports students need the most.
|Above: Maggie Baker.|
“The COVID pandemic was a big change, and even though it may seem over, students are still struggling with the ramifications,” said Keira Gayowsky, a student at Brantford Collegiate Institute and Vocational School and fresh face at the board room table who counts accessibility and mental health among some of the most important priorities going into the next school year. “As the student body adjusts to a post-COVID world, there needs to be a system in place to help learners transition. Some students have never taken exams or met strict deadlines before, and even when there is a push for mental health support, we need to see more happening there.”
Gayowsky will represent students in the north region of Grand Erie including schools in the city of Brantford and Brant County. As a student with a disability, she sees the opportunity that has emerged from the crisis of the past few years: “I think one of the most important issues the pandemic brought to light is accessibility; of course, online courses have been around for a while, but they’ve become an easy tool to access now, and with some reworking, can be a valuable way for students to stay on top of work.”
|Above: Keira Gayowsky.|
Maggie Baker, a student at Simcoe Composite School, has been acclaimed, and will return to represent students from the south region of Grand Erie including Haldimand and Norfolk counties.
“From the beginning, I’ve always believed students are the voice of Grand Erie, and through my journey so far, have developed a deeper appreciation and understanding of their opinions, which I’ll carry through my next term,” said Baker, who championed improved mental health supports and tackling food insecurity issues for students across the board, work she’s eager to continue next year. “A current priority is to negotiate lower cafeteria prices for all secondary students; we are continuing to devise a plan that will better serve students’ needs, and I’m incredibly proud and humbled to have created the foundation for a multi-pronged plan alongside my Student Trustee team.”
Also returning to that Student Trustee team is Aleena Skye, who attends Brantford Collegiate Institute and Vocational School, and was re-elected to continue bringing a strong voice for Indigenous students across Grand Erie into the decision-making process.
|Above: Aleena Skye.|
“One of the things I’m most proud of this year is connecting with various people throughout the board to better understand processes, and then using that knowledge to make an impact in terms of what students in my community want and need,” said Skye, who’s gained valuable leadership experience through attending conferences and meeting other student representatives. She’s also developed a process for consultation through survey distribution, and plans to expand that next year to reach more Indigenous students. “From student feedback, the consensus is that representation is important. We [Indigenous students] often have different learning strategies and approaches, so when starting secondary, seeing yourself reflected, feeling a sense of belonging is what makes you feel welcome and safe.”
The roles Student Trustees take on are reflected in Grand Erie’s collective priorities of learning, well-being and belonging, building a culture of opportunity, supporting the cognitive, social, emotional and physical needs of each learner, and building equitable, inclusive and responsive environments for their fellow learners.