November 2016: Vice-Chair Election Comments

The following comments were offered during the nomination process for election of Vice Chair, 2016/17 school year:

We are a generous bunch. I was struck by that when writing these notes. The very existence of this body depends entirely on people offering themselves AND risking rejection. We offered ourselves to our districts for the privilege of sitting at this table and representing them and now we offer ourselves again, some of us, to one another, our colleagues, for the privilege of leading. It’s no small thing, offering. I can’t speak for the others but personally I’m way outside my comfort zone saying, Pick me, Pick me. So I want to start with acknowledging that and thanking us for offering.

I had the good fortune of enjoying the leadership provided by others for four years. I didn’t have to think about it. I came each week and I sat back and I admired it or criticized it but no matter what I didn’t have to DO it. My own neck wasn’t on the line. I could stick to my knitting, be a board member, and leave the heavier lifting to others.

Now I’m ready for heavier lifting. I’m a cautious person by nature and after four years of seeing how it works I think I finally have something to offer. Seeing so many new faces around the table I’ve been thinking about my beginnings here and my desire for guidance and leadership, and what I’ve learned from observing, and how, in addition to wanting to do it, I actually feel some obligation. I’ve enjoyed and learned from the leadership of others and now it’s time to step up and at least offer that to you.

The vice-chair role, as Dave reminds us, now comes with Committee of the Whole chairing duties. I have that experience from being chair of the policy committee for a year and the ad hoc governance committee last year. And I enjoyed it. And I like to think I was effective. I liked being responsible for making sure that all voices got heard. That we stuck to the point. And that we didn’t take forever doing it. AND that we got to where we were going, together, sharing a feeling of accomplishment.

I like the idea of being part of the executive committee and setting the board’s agenda. The governance work opened my eyes to the many ways in which we can be more effective. One of the ways is the agenda itself. A simple tool, the agenda has immense impact on what we do. It affects everything from the tactical to the strategic. I’d like to be part of bringing a critical eye to the way we use it. And I’d love to be in on the start-up phase of this committee, that approach itself forming a big leap forward for efficiency and effectiveness.

What I offer beyond member and chairing experience and an interest in governance is a particular interest in equity. It isn’t EXplicitly a part of the role but IMplicitly it is. Very much. The governing board’s leadership has to have an understanding of the existence and effect of the historic and systemic barriers and obstacles that stand in the way of achieving equity. And it has to demonstrate an insistence on educating and transforming ourselves in order to educate and be an example to those we serve. Equity is the lens through which virtually everything we do must be viewed. Staff is already doing tremendous work on this front. The governing board’s work needs to be just as rigorous.

And, finally, I’d like to offer – a special BONUS offer – to get us up and running with a communications plan. One that would have us, the governing board, speaking directly to our 136 SACs and related African and Aboriginal Nova Scotian elected bodies on a regular basis. It could be as simple as a quarterly enewsletter but it would be ours and it would put us in touch and it could lead to other things.

I’ve had four years of watching and learning and reflecting and now I offer that to you. I’m stepping up and you’re welcome, with your vote, to tell me to step-off or step back. I’m okay with that. Really. But for the moment, for now at least, I feel the need and desire to offer.

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