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MEET THE CANDIDATES: Winston Francis, WCDSB trustee

Waterloo Catholic District School Board trustee candidate wants to create 'an environment where each student feels included and there are no boundaries or fear based on colour, religion and orientation'
Winston Francis is a candidate for trustee representing Cambridge on the Waterloo Catholic District School Board.

Winston Francis

Why are you running for school board trustee ?

I am an immigrant from India and have been in Canada for 22 years. I belong to the Anglo-Indian Community, which is a miniscule community of about 200,000 worldwide. I am a mix of British/Portuguese/Indian(Dad) and French/Indian( Mum). Very strong and deep family values and principles, which have been imbibed in me as a child - the only child for my parents.

My father passed away when I just entered my teens, and it was my mother who educated me and taught me the values and hardship of life. I would like to share my experiences- and my perspective of life from the stand-point of an immigrant with a diverse background of culture, traditions and beliefs and the value of a good education, and strong family values and to focus on being a good person by giving importance to Love, Joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

I would like to see that politics is kept out of schools and adequate funding for schools is directed correctly to keep schools and children safe, and that adequate infrastructure and resources are provided for teachers and students to be fully engaged, for their development and growth. An environment where each student feels included and there are no boundaries or fear based on colour, religion and orientation.

What do you think the role of a school board trustee is, and what attributes do you have to offer?

In my opinion a trustee - as the name suggests - is entrusted with the responsibilities of ensuring that the board carries out its duties, responsibilities on a daily basis, as planned. A trustee is like a link- or a catalyst between the board, students, parents and the community at large and on which certain policies will be rolled out, keeping our values, upbringing and heritage foremost. The Trustee has a big responsibility to the community and has to plan and strategize the yearly plan of direction and to evaluate progress vs the plan.

I hope to be able to make my voice heard, with new innovative ideas and ways that the board could look at, better use of resources of teachers and facilities, to keep our teachers and students engaged and competitive. Being in a Senior Leadership position with an International company which is in the business of protecting what is important to you and your loved ones - I bring diversity, leadership, fresh, forward and progressive thinking and would like to share my strong family values with my ability to communicate with various linguistics groups based on my strong communication skills and knowlege of several languages and cultures from the South Asian continent.

As you look at education in the year's ahead, what do you think are the most important issues?

The years ahead are going to be challenging, as new issues will be brought forward based on the times and conditions that we would face at the time.

I think BILL 67 would ensure that teachers are adequately trained to be able to manage anti-racism better and the different and diverse situations which could arise. I think the introduction by the Board of French Immersion, International Baccalaureate or Advanced Placement are steps in the right direction to make students more
knowledgeable, capable and competitive in this ever-changing and competitive world, to put our Canadian students in a better, more competitive space versus students from other countries.

Despite any hurdles this past year, what will you do differently to help move WCDSB forward?

I would support : a) BILL 67 to help teachers better manage diverse situations or racism. b) I would like to put forward new and innovative plans after evaluating the systems, procedures of governance, operations and funding to ensure there are no conflicts, and if there are, how could these be resolved. As far as funding, ensure that funds are utilized appropriately and go where they are meant to be used - in the classes to support students, teachers and infrastructure to enable students and teachers to evolve and develop.

Creation of a curriculum for teaching and learning, which reflects the different levels of capability to study and keeping them engaged and connected at all times.

I would encourage more teacher, student council meetings to better understand the challenges faced by both and decide how situations could be better managed.
I would be sensitive to the thoughts, ideas and feelings of older students, by respecting their points of view and listen to them.