It’s all in your hands.
That’s the poignant message delivered by an innovative campaign to boost awareness of the role of school trustees, while also aiming to increase voter engagement in the upcoming Ontario municipal election.
The campaign is a unique collaboration between four Ontario trustee associations, who share a goal of raising the profile of trustees, while also increasing awareness of existing strong leaders. The Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association, the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association, the Association des conseils scolaires des écoles publiques de l’Ontario, and the Association Franco-Ontarienne des Conseils Scolaires catholiques, are banding together to get their message heard.
Sharon McMillian, Co-ordinator of Communications and Media Relations for OCSTA, said this is the first province-wide effort on behalf of the trustee associations.
“This is the first time this type of resource has been made available with all four associations collaborating,” McMillan said. “The campaign is an opportunity to invite Ontarians to better understand how the system works.”
All four share the common thread of typically low voter turnout for deciding school trustee roles. After recognizing that, initial discussions were held and the wheels started to turn to form a campaign surrounding increased constituent cognizance of the job of school trustees, while also engaging more voters at election time.
To get that across, the campaign created a website which can be seen by clicking here. It not only imparts information on the role of school trustees, but highlights every trustee candidate in the upcoming election, in every region, across all associations and boards. The site also provides general information about education in Ontario, school boards, as well as a comprehensive section devoted to voters themselves. McMillan said the provincial government is also behind the project, believing in the importance of inspiring voters to get involved in the election process.
Previously, the OCSTA provided a reference guide to boards and associations, called Becoming a Catholic School Trustee – A Call to Service and Stewardship in Christ. It emphasizes the importance of becoming a school trustee while also inviting people to think about running for the position. McMillan said that booklet is still available through the OCSTA, and its website, by clicking here, but the current collaborative campaign is building on that.
She also noted that the OCSTA continues to focus on its trustees long after the election process, as McMillan said the association helps new school trustees acclimatize. “Once the election is over it’s really just the beginning of their Call to Service,” she said.
To that end, OCSTA hosts an orientation after each election, which helps trustees ease into their new roles and responsibilities. The session highlights the distinctive components of being a Catholic trustee, and includes speakers who impart information about a trustee’s role and aspects of the Catholic education system. In addition, the session includes a robust faith formation segment. McMillan said the opportunity to worship together as professionals brings the new trustees together to cement their responsibility to represent the interests of their communities, constituents, and their faith.
For more information about the collaborative effort, click here to be taken to the website.