There are four key pillars in Samantha’s Platform:
- Sustainable Fiscal Planning and Execution
- Student-focused, Forward-Looking, Research-Centred Policies
- Supportive, Equitable, and Accessible Learning Environments
- Transparent and Consistent Communication
Sustainable Fiscal Planning and Execution
There is a likely chance that over the next four years, the Province of Ontario will expect Ontario school boards to work with slimmer budgets while still expanding on programming, services and necessary upgrades to aging facilities. With over 10+ years of exemplary budgetary management, Samantha has a unique background stretching budgets in educational institutions while ensuring that the services and supports for students are not sacrificed. She hopes to utilize her years in government relations to work diligently with the municipal and provincial government to ensure no student in Waterloo Region is left behind.
Student-focused, Forward-Looking, Research-Centred Policies
Policy creation for the Waterloo Region District School Board should have three key elements: student-focused, forward-looking, and research-centred. In such an innovative ecosystem, schools in the Region should have policies that are as innovative as the products produced here, inclusive of accessible STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programming available for all WRDSB students. In her student-centred advocacy roles, Samantha has represented over 300,000 students in over 20 post-secondary institutions, and has written hundreds of surveys, qualitative studies for stakeholder engagement, bylaws, and policies. Her policy work can be found in national, provincial, and local non-profits, along with three university institutions across the country.
Supportive, Equitable, and Accessible Learning Environments
Waterloo Region has a diverse population with a large disparity between high and low socioeconomic status students. The students attending WRDSB schools come from a variety of different backgrounds and identities, inclusive of those who identify as Indigenous, immigrants, low socioeconomic status, visible minorities, religious minorities, LGBTQ, and those with accessibility needs. Each of these students deserve to have an accessible and equitable education. Samantha’s extensive policy and advocacy work has centred on diversity and inclusion, especially in regards to creating accessible environments where individuals are supported and treated equitably, no matter their background, identities, or abilities.
Transparent and Consistent Communication
As outlined by the current provincial government, there are going to be extensive changes in the school board, be it the re-evaluation of the 2018 Health Curriculum or the use of standardized testing as a benchmark. It is crucial that the WRDSB’s trustee are in constant communication with the guardians of their students and are transparent in all matters that effect them. As a seasoned communications professional and community builder, Samantha understands how important that two way communication will be over the next four years and is committed to openly working with her communities.
If elected, Samantha has a keen interest in actively participating in the following WRDSB committees:
Mental Health Advisory Committee
In her current role, Samantha is a valued member of the Persons with Disabilities (PWD) Committee for her employee where she routinely advocates for access to mental health services. As an advocate for student employees in technology teams, Samantha has created detailed SWOTs, prepared improvements plans, and a Wellness Plan that can be utilized by student and non-student employees. Samantha hopes to utilize her experience in accessibility advocacy and mental health support on the Mental Health Advisory Committee to ensure that every WRDSB student is holistically supported both mentally and physically.
Equity and Inclusion Advisory Group
Many in Waterloo Region know Samantha as an advocate for equity and inclusion, be it in educational settings or in technology. Over the last ten years, Samantha’s extensive policy and advocacy work has centred on diversity and inclusion, especially in regards to creating accessible learning and working environments. She hopes to bring this experience to the Equity and Inclusion Advisory Group to ensure that all students are supported and treated equitably, no matter their background, identities, or abilities.
Through her current and past work, Samantha has extensive experience with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, inclusive of physical spaces, individual rights, and digital accessibility – all within the realm of educational spaces. Samantha hopes to utilize her experience in accessibility advocacy in the Accessibility Committee to ensure that every WRDSB student has a barrier free educational experience which allows them to thrive.
Early Years Advisory Group
As Samantha and her husband, Justin, are eagerly awaiting the birth of their first child late in 2018, the Early Years Advisory Group is of special interest to Samantha. The first years, inclusive of Pre-School and Kindergarten, are incredibly important in the development of children. As a soon-to-be-parent, Samantha hopes to ensure that those on this committee represent the parents and families of those in Early Years programming.
Internet Content Filtering Working Committee
Through her work in the technology field, Samantha understands completely both the usefulness and dangerousness of technology. She is also incredibly aware of the social media channels utilized by the youngest generation through her work as a STEM facilitator and social media specialist. Her extensive experience in this field would be invaluable to the Internet Content Filtering Working Committee, ensuring that the most vulnerable of technologists still access the websites and content they need for their education, while protecting them from predators and environments that spur on cyberbullying.