The governance structure of the BC School Trustees Association includes several standing committees established to consider the organization’s business in a specific area. The committees also provide members with opportunities to engage directly in BCSTA work and to provide perspectives from the membership.

BCSTA standing committees are formed by resolution on the AGM floor. Membership in, and terms of reference for, these committees is governed by bylaw. Current standing committees include:

  • Indigenous Education Committee
  • Credentials Committee
  • Finance and Audit Committee
  • Legislative Committee
  • Professional Learning Committee

This month we profile the work of the Professional Learning Committee (PLC).

At the heart of education is student achievement – and that is the focus of BCSTA’s Professional Learning Committee (previously known as the Education Committee). With its pulse on BC public education, the committee identifies educational issues of interest and concern to membership. In this work, the Committee coordinates closely with the Indigenous Education Committee.

The Professional Learning Committee’s members include a representative from each of BCSTA’s branches selected by each branch to represent perspectives from across the province, a member of the BC School Superintendents’ Association to inform the Committee and to report back to the BCSSA on BCSTA educational matters and a member of the BCSTA Board of Directors who serves as a liaison between the Committee and the board.

Current members of the Professional Learning Committee are:

  • Julie-Anne Runge, Chair Northern Interior Branch
  • Leah Ward, Vice Chair Thompson Okanagan Branch
  • Pam Craig Vancouver Island Branch
  • Pammila Ruth South Coast Branch
  • Cindy Strukoff / Lenora Trenamon (May 2019) Kootenay-Boundary Branch
  • Bob Holmes Metro Branch
  • Korleen Carreras Fraser Valley Branch
  • Donna Sargent BCSTA Board of Directors Representative
  • Wanda Cassidy BCSSA Representative

When asked why, as busy trustees, they are involved in this committee work, members over time have offered a variety of different answers.

“It provides me with an opportunity to contribute to the work of the BCSTA.”
“Participation gives me more chances to interact with other trustees who are passionate about the professional growth of trustees.”
“I learn a lot as I work with other trustees from across the Province.”
“I feel it is important to have direct input into the activities of the BCSTA. If I’m going to make judgements about them, I have to be prepared to do the work.”

As established in the bylaws, the committee meets three to four times per year. Generally, the meetings are held in conjunction with meetings of the Association’s Provincial Council, in advance of or following general meetings, or at the call of the Chair. The Committee typically meets in person but may conduct meetings remotely.

Since 2007, the committee has set as its mission: Education – Communication – Support: Leading the way for trustee development for student achievement. As a standing committee, the PLC recommends action on educational issues for consideration by the board of directors, Provincial Council and AGM. In support of its mission, members of the PLC work with BCSTA’s Director of Education Services, Hugh Blackman, to develop professional learning programs for members. Annually this involves at least the AGM every spring and the Trustee Academy in the fall. But in recent times, the PLC has also been involved in supporting the development of the very successful Canadian School Board Association Congress in Whistler in 2017 and even more recently, the New Trustee Orientation in January 2019. The members also advise on the development of learning resources such as the Learning Guide, and on other educational materials and activities of the BCSTA.

BCSTA President Gordon Swan acknowledges the importance of the PLC.

“We cover a lot of business in our Board of Directors Meetings and it is extremely helpful to have a Committee specifically focused on education and professional learning for trustees. The Committee engages in deep discussions as outlined in our bylaws and makes recommendations that facilitate and support BCSTA Educational Services. The Committee reports through the liaison Director and the Directors are able to consider well-formed ideas and recommendations. The process works well for the Board, and most importantly, for the membership.”

Most recently, the Committee supported the development of a hugely successful Trustee Academy. The theme was “Building a New Board: Elected, Engaged, Empowered” and given the large number of new trustees elected to positions throughout the province, it could not have been more appropriate. Following each of its major educational events, the BCSTA surveys those attending. Results of the survey following the Academy indicated a very high level of appreciation of the program and activities.

Chair Julie-Anne Rudge was pleased with the results. She enjoys her work on the PLC.

“Being involved in educational issues is always positive. It’s about building the organization, generating ideas to support the professional growth of trustees, and responding to issues directed to the Committee. It is highly collaborative and satisfying work.”

A series of Regional Workshops on Leadership in late January are next on the agenda. Hugh Blackman, Director of Education, commented about the busy times.

“With so many new trustees in office, and given the critical role they play in governance, oversight, finances, and strategic planning in school districts, it is important to provide these professional learning opportunities. I think the high number of trustees signed up for the New Trustee Orientation and the Regional Series on Leadership speaks volumes about the interest of trustees in pursuing the opportunities planned by the BCSTA Professional Learning Committee.”