Thursday, November 29, 2012

Nov 15th - North Van PAC meeting summary

The main items on the agenda at our November 15th General Meeting were:
  • "The role of the PAC" by BCCPAC Past President - Ann Whiteaker
  •  2012/13 budget
  • The Parent Priorities Survey
  • ERASE anti-bullying program by Joanna Woronchak and Deborah Johnstone
Nov 15th Meeting Minutes

2012/13 Budget

The Role of the PAC

The presentation by Ann Whiteaker on the role of the PAC was very interesting to as we often get caught up in the day-to-day operation of our organizations and it helps to reflect on your purpose at times to ensure you are moving in the right direction.

The meeting minutes provide an excellent summary of the presentation but a couple of key points really stood out for me.
  • While often perceived as such, the purpose of a PAC is not to fundraise. The goal is to build relationships and community, and not necessarily to make money. PACs should endeavour to get as many people as possible out with their entire family to fun events where the PAC doesn’t lose money.
  • PACs should seek out under-represented parents, especially those of struggling students. Parents of students who struggle are often reluctant to come to PAC meetings and events. Sometimes it is necessary to “dig” for the families who won’t ask for help.
If you need help funding fun community building events within your schools, please make sure you take advantage of our speaker and family of schools grants.


Our 2011/2012 Year end financials and 2012/2013 budget were both approved at the meeting. This means we can move forward with all our grants etc. The DPAC Funds page on our blog discusses the available funds and how PACs can access them.

Parent Priorities Survey

We had 40 participants in our online parent priorities discussion and survey. The results of the survey show a mix of priorities but with a clear focus on the need to upgrade facilities, improve special needs education and improve the use of technology in schools.

What was most important to me was the discussion on the process. There wasn't a lot of information or context given to the questions asked and the feedback in the meeting was that as a result it was hard to understand the value of the exercise and respond  apropriately to the questions. This is good feedback and will be incorporated the next time we reach out. Personally I found the process we used of gathering ideas and voting upon them generally better for this type of discussion than others we've tried but I definitely see the need for more effort to help set the context for the discussions.

ERASE Anti-Bullying Strategy

Deborah Johnstone (Boundary) met with District Administrator Brad Baker, and
attended the Safe and Caring Schools Committee meeting. The province’s new
ERASE (Expect Respect and a Safe Education) program will be introduced in the
district. There will be a Professional Day to inform/train teachers and staff about
ERASE, but the program may not actually be implemented until next year.

Joanna Woronchak, (Highlands) attended the ERASE summit in Vancouver on
November 13th and presented a few key points from her Anti-bullying report:
  • On the website, there is a reporting tool which can be used by a target of or a witness to incidents of bullying. Reports can be made anonymously or with a name.
  • There will be a professional day each year to deal with anti-bullying education for teachers and administrators.
  • Consideration is being given to integrating anti-bullying training as part of teacher training.
  • A 10 point strategy has been developed outlining protocols re bullying so that there will be consistency across school districts.
  • An RCMP speaker at the summit noted that there are no teeth in current laws,
  • and it is very difficult to prosecute for cyber bullying.
  • Use of correct terminology is being encouraged – assault, extortion instead of bullying.
  • It is important to let children know they are believed and that the bullying is not their fault.
  • A student participant in the summit stated “Bullying needs to be made not cool.”
  • ERASE asks the witness to come forward to report bullying. Witnesses are negatively affected by bullying; they need to feel empowered to speak up.

Nov 27 School Board Meeting - Summary

The November 27th board meeting touched on four main topics. The naming of the new community learning program, board support in principal for covered outdoor areas, a report by the NVTA on last year's professional development activities and the opening of discussions on a District school calendar.

1. Mountainside Secondary

Following the recommendations coming from within the school, the board decided to create a new school identity for the community learning program by naming the school Mountainside Secondary School. By enabling the community to forge its own identity under their own name rather than the rather cumbersome "community learning program at Balmoral" the District marks the end of the transition and a start to a new chapter for the students and staff at the school. Personally I think this is an great step to making the move real and solidifying the new program and community.

2. Covered Areas

Anyone headed outside in November knows that North Van is in a rain forest zone. Yet due to budget limitations many of our elementary schools have been built without covered outdoor areas for students to use during inclement weather. Highlands Elementary PAC have worked hard to raise this issue with the District and last year the District agreed that they needed to look at it properly and see what it would actually take to provide schools with covered areas.

The results of this work were discussed at the last finance and facilities meeting but in general show that it will cost about $150,000 to add covered outdoor spaces at Highlands. There is little disagreement that covered spaces are needed but funding them is the real issue. At Tuesday's meeting the Board agreed in principal with the installation of covered spaces and they agreed to develop a policy related to their installation but have essentially asked the community to work with them to find a way to fund covered areas.

While this falls short of what many would like to see in terms of immediate installation the decision appears positive to me as it suggests that while they may not be able to provide funding for covered areas the District is supportive of their installation if the community can raise the funds and that the school district may help with things such as the design, installation and upkeep of the canopies once installed.

3. Professional Development

The North Vancouver Teachers Association (NVTA) presented their annual report on professional development activities in a new, informative and inspiring fashion on Tuesday night. Few people see what teacher's actually do with those PD days and to rectify this the NVTA had 3 teachers present their stories of how they used their professional development time and funds to improve their teaching.

  • Attending a conference in Alberta helped one North Vancouver teacher learn about teaching techniques from other parts of Canada and the world. 
  • For another teacher, assembling a number of different supports together enabled him to attend an extended student cultural exchange in Ottawa and bring a stronger understanding of how the Canadian government works to his social studies classes. 
  • A third teacher used the support to learn the specialized techniques needed to help students develop the fine motor skills needed to use a pen properly. 

The teachers were far more interesting and inspiring in their presentations than my summaries but it was obvious to me that this sort of professional development helps broaden and inspire teachers in ways that can be brought back into the school system to the benefit of all teachers and students.

4. School Calendars

The Ministry of Education has this year enabled school districts to establish local school calendars. This could mean adjustments to the dates and hours of schooling in the District. At the board meeting Superintendent Lewis announced the plan seek stakeholder input into a new calendar for the 2013/14 school year. NorthVanPAC has been asked to participate in this process and is currently seeking parent representatives to help develop the new calendar.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

ERASE Bullying Summit

On November 13, 2012 , Joanna Woronchak attended the ERASE Bullying Summit on our behalf and submitted the following report.

ERASE Bullying Summit, Nov 13, 2012

The Erase Bullying Summit was not only a forum to launch the website, it was also an opportunity to bring together a diverse group of people with a common goal. It is clear that if we are going to make significant changes in the area of anti bullying we must take a unified approach. Kids, parents, schools, police, community outreach workers, government, etc. must work together to create positive change.

Premier Christy Clark said, “When a child is not safe in school they can not learn”. This is so true and when we live in a country that being educated is not just a privilege but a right, collectively we have a responsibility to our students to create a safe place for them to learn


  1. Reporting tool 
    • Safe school coordinators manage reports 
  2. Bullying… be in the Know. What is bullying? 
    • Verbal 
    • Physical 
    • Social/Emotional 
    • Cyber 
  3. Information for parents – Warning signs, What can I do to help?, Youth Suicide and Helpful Resources 
  4. Creating Safe School Communities - Bullying isn’t just a child’s issue; it’s a school and community issue, and must be addressed with a school and community solution. Everyone has a role to play in supporting students and preventing incidents like bullying. 
  5. Policy to Action -Every child deserves an education free from discrimination, bullying, harassment, intimidation and violence. is a fantastic new website. I encourage you to visit this site and become familiar with the reporting tool and the valuable information on this site. can only help those that know about it, so please spread the word.

The Government of British Columbia has implemented the following initiatives to help erase bullying:
  • 1 Pro-D day a year will be dedicated to Anti-bullying training. 
  • Integrating training into Post Secondary teacher training. 
  • Introducing a 10-point strategy to all 60 school districts. 
There are 4 Levels of training as part of the ERASE Bullying program that they’re implementing in BC, Canada.
  • Level 1 – One day for Elementary Schools

  • Level 2 – Basic threat and risk assessment for Secondary Schools

  • Level 3 – Next year – advanced threat and risk assessment

  • Level 4 – 2014 – Train the trainer of the work that’s happening now

Barbara Coloroso, Author – The Bully, The Bullied and The Bystander

“You don’t have to like everyone, but you must honour their humanity and treat them with respect and dignity.”

  • Learned behavior
  • The dehumanization must stop
  • The bully circle
  • We need to care

Barbara emphasized that everyone has a responsibility to:

  • Pay attention
  • Get involved
  • Never look away

Merlyn Horton, E.D. - Solos

Find links at:

SOLOS’ vision is to positively influence this and future generations to be informed and responsible users of digital technology. Merlyn Horton shared important information about the importance of kids and parents keeping educated. She talked on subjects such as:

  • Keeping passwords secret
  • Establish rules and guidelines in the home
  • Kids need to know how to document abuse
  • Kids don’t have elders to ask for guidance

Sgt. Frank Paulicelli and Cpl. Kurt Neuman, RCMP

There are 3 components in handling bullying:

  1. Prevention
    • Youth Officer Training
    • I – SMART
    • Youth Officer Resource Tool Kit
    • DICE (Digital Investigators Computer Evidence)
    • WITS
    • Development Assets
  2. Intervention
    • School based threat risk assessment
    • Youth criminal justice act
    • Youth mental health & addictions workshops
  3. Enforcement
  4. Bullying is not a legal term. When bullying is being addressed legally the following are terms used:
    • Section 264 Criminal harassment

    • Section 264.1 uttering threats

    • Section 372 (2)(3) harassing telephone calls

    • Section 423 intimidations

    • Section 241 counselling suicide

    • Section 372 false messages

    • Section 347 extortion

    • Section 296 blasphemous libel

    • Section 300 defamatory libel

Student Involvement

There were many students at the summit from different areas in the province. I so value their in-put, their contributions were extremely insightful. The following are some of the concepts they brought forward:

  • The adults in the school building need to connect with students.When a kid feels disconnected they feel unsafe
  • They encouraged kids to get involved in clubs and teams at school.
  • Bullying needs to be made, “Not Cool”.
  • The teachers attitudes highly effect the students. It would be helpful if teachers got to know a students strengths not just weaknesses
  • With bullying issues they felt strongly that it is effective to let older students educate and mentor the younger students

School Initiatives

Teams from Frank Hurt (Surrey) and Timberline Secondary (Campbell River) shared some of the efforts they are making to maintain safe schools.

  • Use Surveys – the kids know way more then the adults do
  • Focus group held by students
  • Safe School workers at school all day
  • Ask and Listen to students
  • Video cameras – kids can report just time and place
  • Teach Stewardship
  • Student Advocate programs
  • Programs pinpointing at risk kids and working with them before issues arise

More Info

This blog only touches on the information. I found a great site, it has fantastic notes on the entire summit, I encourage you to visit:

Monday, November 26, 2012

North Shore Community Wellness Survey

Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) is conducting a survey across the north shore beginning at the end of November 2012 (Nov. 24-Dec 16).

They would like PAC assistance to promote the survey in newsletters etc.

The survey can be found at:

The survey is designed to assess, at a population level, not an individual level, the health and wellness of our community across several parameters. Additionally, and most particularly part of the survey will attempt to elicit the “Child and Family Friendliness” of the north shore community. This is a direct follow on to the municipalities, school boards and other institutions having signed the North Shore Charter for a Child and family Friendly Community in October 2011.

The results of this survey and the results of a second survey that will assess the same issue but from a service provider perspective (under the auspices of the North Shore Neighbourhood House) will be presented at the North Shore Congress in February or March 2013.

The wellness survey will be conducted both “in the field” using volunteer interviewers as well as online. The expectation is to achieve 5,000 respondents and that the sample will be powerful enough to reflect, in some instances, geographic neighbourhood areas. The oversight committee for the survey includes members of the planning staff of the City of North Vancouver, the District of North Vancouver and the District of West Vancouver. This survey approach has been successfully implemented by VCH earlier this year in partnership with the City of Richmond in support of their community wellness strategy.

If you have questions or concerns, please contact Megan Oakey, Healthy Communities Coordinator, Vancouver Coastal Health, North Shore on 604-904-6469 or


Brian O’Connor, MD, MHSc
Medical Health Officer, North Shore
Vancouver Coastal Health

Plymouth School Proposals Community Meeting

The School District is holding a public meeting on Dec 4th to present the proposals under consideration for the future use of Plymouth Elementary

Plymouth School Options Discussion
December 4, 2012
7pm at Plymouth Elementary

For more information on the meeting and the options under consideration go to

Monday, November 19, 2012

Emergency Preparedness, Speakers and other discussions

North Van PAC maintains a discussion forum for all PACs in the District,

The purpose of the discussion forums is to enable PACs to share thoughts on issues of interest to schools and parents District wide.

If you aren't a member, please go to the forum and sign up to participate.

North Van PAC Discussion Forum

Current discussions include:
  • Speaker Recommendations discussing good speakers of interest to parents.
  • Emergency Preparedness discussions on how to ensure staff, parents are students are ready.
Other topics could include
  • The perennial issue of fundraising?
  • Parent Resources for anti-bullying ... what's available, what works and for whom?
  • Traffic Safety, what are the issues around your school, what helped?
  • PAC governance, we all have challenges and successes to share.
  • IT and PACs, what are you using in your schools and what works?
For PACs in North Vancouver, this is your discussion board. Please make use of it to keep the valuable discussions we start in our meetings going. Sharing of best practices and successes will be a big help to everyone.

2012 Fall Educational Leadership Conference

The BC School Superintendents Association's  2012 Fall Educational Leadership Conference was held Nov 15th&16th and attended by North Van educators and two invited North Van parents.

There were many interesting presentations on the current and future of education in BC, too many to attend or to report on.

The website below provides links to many of the conference presentation

Parent Priorities Discussion - Results

At the request of the school board and administration, NorthVanPac conducted an online discussion of parent priorities for funding if the District were to have revenues from the sale or lease of surplus lands using the Thoughtstream system,

Our findings from our parent priorities efforts can be found here

Parent Priorities Discussion Results

We had an initial set of 40 respondents with 23 completing the final ranking. At North Van PAC we always prefer broader input as this better captures the district wide perspective.

From what I can see we've identified a number of options and it seems clear that maintaining our schools, finding a way to provide extra support for special needs and an overall greater investment in education technology are of great interest to parents. This is reflected in both the initial thoughts people provided and the choices made in the rankings.

As discussed at our general meeting, the context for the questions may not have been clear which is a learning we will try to incorporate into future efforts with the system and to gather input.

I would like thank everyone that helped with this effort and I hope those that participated found the effort interesting.

The report includes both the summary of the results and the full set of input gathered as this helps make sense of what is there.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

November 15th General Meeting Agenda

Our November (15th) general meeting features a talk from past BCCPAC President Anne Whitaker on the roles of parents and PACs in the school system and how to effectively advocate for children in the system. More information on this talk can be found below. I hope to see you all next Thursday.

Date: Thursday, Nov. 15th
Time: 7pm - 9pm
Location: Education Services Center, 2121 Lonsdale Ave

Meeting Agenda:
7:00 pm: Demystifying your PAC - Anne Whitaker,

NVPAC General Meeting
8:15 pm call to order, approval of agenda & minutes
8:20 pm: NVPAC budget 2012/13 - Mike Sexsmith
8:40 pm: Parent Priorities Submission to Board - David Whitehead
9:00 pm: Adjourn

Demystifying Your PAC — Working Together
Building relationships requires more than just a common set of values and a desire to see students succeed. We all know parent/community volunteers play a vital role in the success of school-lead initiatives and support student achievement when they are engaged in the school community however what this looks like and how to tap into this resource is not commonly practised or understood.

This workshop will provide a better understanding of the role of parents within our schools, tools to engage this resource to maximize benefits and solutions to common concerns that challenge positive relationships when we engage the greater school community.

Topics will cover the shared rights, roles and responsibilities of PACs, Parents, Administrators, and Staff, how to best support and advocate for students when issues arise and how to gather and create Parent voice through your PAC. Bring your ideas, and challenges for discussion in this lively and fun workshop.

The workshop will be hosted by Ann Whiteaker. Ann was the past president of BCCPAC. She has been actively involved in all school levels: elementary, middle, and high school, as well as the district level for 13 years. She has served as PAC Chair, DPAC Director, and the BCCPAC. Ann was also one of the members on the Panel of CBC On The Coast's live broadcast of "Failing Our Kids? Is BC's public education system broken?” Whiteaker is an experienced advocate for parents often being called upon to assist parents when problems or concerns present themselves to support their student’s success and navigating the system.