When I was crossing the stage as a graduate of Belmont Secondary 10 years ago, one of our keynote speakers told our grad class that learning is a life-long journey. As someone who was excited to transition to the next chapter in my life, I was more than happy to say goodbye to math forever. Little did I know that those math lessons would be indispensable to my role as a trustee and chair of the Sooke School District Board of Education.
As we prepare for the start of another school year, I am reminded of the power behind public education. We all do this work because we recognize that there is nothing more important than developing informed, literate, and resilient citizens. It is also important that we strive to create safe, respectful, and inclusive environments to learn and grow in.
Premier John Horgan always says that, “education is the great equalizer in our society.” It was certainly true for my family and me. My parents immigrated from Punjab, India to Canada with little money, little to no English, and no understanding of the culture and practices. While I can never fully appreciate their sacrifices and the struggles they faced, I do know that their saving grace was public education. From an early age, my dad would often pull me aside and remind me that the most valuable asset you can have is a good education.
But what does that really mean? For some, it’s the ability to perform at an advanced level and to get good grades. For others, it’s the opportunity to dive into the history and deeper understandings of our world. Or maybe, being part of a school team or program. What is true for many of us is that our parents told us we had to go to school.
The greatest opportunity we can offer our students is to become community-minded citizens who, at their core, care for one another and are confident in themselves. The understanding that everyone has value regardless of their gender, sexual orientation, race or cultural belief. The power to respond to hate and ignorance with compassion and knowledge. With all the complexities of our world, we are asking a lot of our educators and professionals who work with our children and that’s why it’s so important that we all see our role in supporting student learning.
I’m the product of the hard work put in each and every day by the wonderful staff in our school district. Our schools are amazing places, where good things are happening every single day.
The last few years haven’t been easy for anyone, but I want to thank our community for their consistent support and understanding. When we work together, we can move through hard times, stand up to challenges and learn from adversity.
As we welcome back students and staff, I am inspired by Elder Shirley Alphonse’s words on “working side by side, supporting each other, walking together.” When we focus on that, think of how much we can accomplish for our students – today and tomorrow.
Let’s get to work.
Ravi Parmar, chair
Sooke School District Board of Education