|From left: Student Trustees for the 2022-23 school year Maggie Baker, Tatyana Zebroski and Aleena Skye.|
Incoming Student Trustees Ready to Learn, Lead and Inspire
THURSDAY, MAY 26, 2022
here will be new voices at the board room table this fall as current student trustees wind down successful terms, and get ready to pass the torch to peers who will take on the important role of representing students across Grand Erie for the 2022-23 school year.
"This will be a challenge, but it’s also an important responsibility and I’m ready to represent other Indigenous students, to listen and learn, and ensure all voices
Elections took place this past winter, and the student body is sending Maggie Baker, Tatyana Zebroski and Aleena Skye to represent them. Baker is a student at Simcoe Composite School, and will be the voice of students in the southern region of Grand Erie including Haldimand and Norfolk counties. Zebroski attends Brantford Collegiate Institute and Vocational School, and will represent students in the northern part of the board, encompassing the City of Brantford and Brant County. Skye also attends Brantford Collegiate, and has been elected to represent Indigenous students across Grand Erie.
“Being a leader means doing things that scare you,” said Skye, who points out that she doesn’t consider herself outgoing by nature, but is eager to assume this public-facing role. “This will be a challenge, but it’s also an important responsibility and I’m ready to represent other Indigenous students, to listen and learn, and ensure all voices are heard.”
Each student trustee brings her own unique perspective to the biggest issues facing students, but with overlapping commonalities and similar approaches to the trust that’s been placed in them.
"The reality of the upcoming school year is that very few current secondary school students in the province have experienced a complete year of high school without COVID-19 interruptions."
“Leaders conduct their decision-making through strong morals – they are honest in all of their interactions, and find innovative solutions using creativity,” said Baker. “An effective leader carries integrity and a desire to positively influence and inspire those around them.”
While the 2022-23 school year will hopefully bring a marked departure from the disruptions to education brought on the pandemic, it also means student trustees have their work cut out for them.
“The reality of the upcoming school year is that very few current secondary school students in the province have experienced a complete year of high school without COVID-19 interruptions,” said Zebroski, noting that the pandemic has altered semester and examination schedules and requirements, changed grading structures, paused athletics and extracurriculars, and forced students and staff to switch from in-person to remote learning and then back again a number of times. “Many students that I have talked to have also reported increased feelings of loneliness and difficulty keeping in touch with friends from school during shutdowns, and many reported feeling upset about missing clubs and other extracurricular activities as a result of the pandemic.”
Mental health is a major priority for each student trustee.
“With all the events that have taken place within the last few years, students’ mental health has taken a hit,” observed Baker. “Mental health matters, and I believe through reaching out to our students, we can devise a plan to effectively serve their needs.”
Opening the lines of communication will be an important way to ensure student trustees can reach fellow students across the large geographical regions they represent, and for Zebroski, focusing on the Student Senate, comprised of passionate student leaders from all secondary schools, will be one way to do so.
"Mental health matters, and I believe through reaching out to our students, we can devise a plan to effectively serve their needs."
“I’d like to increase awareness of the Student Senate, and one way we can do that is through social media,” said Zebroski, adding that the Senate now has an Instagram presence. “It’s crucial that students feel comfortable talking to me about the issues they feel strongly about within their schools so I can bring that voice to the board level.”
When it comes to Grand Erie’s multi-year strategic plan, each student trustee sees a strong connection to its collective priorities and the roles they are assuming. Learning, well-being and belonging factor prominently into how each sees themselves carrying out their plans and goals on behalf of students.
“No matter what backgrounds we come from, we’re all one, we’re all connected,” said Skye, who wants to ensure more opportunities for Indigenous students to connect with their heritages in the year ahead and share that with all students. “Increasing understanding between us is what leads to belonging and allows us to be successful. That’s the challenge I’m taking on.”
Skye, Baker and Zebroski will assume their Student Trustee responsibilities officially in August.