Opening and Closing Speeches–Jewelles Smith, running for school trustee school District 19 (Revelstoke, BC) / 11.04.2011
Hello and welcome to all the community members who made it out tonight! For those of you who don’t know me yet, or have not yet caught up with me since I moved back to Revelstoke, I will tell you a little about who I am, and why I have decided to run for school trustee.
My name is Jewelles Smith. Although, I lived in Revelstoke when I was a child for a period, I really got to know this amazing community when I moved here in 1989. I completed my grade 12 here and received a scholarship in 1995. Shortly after graduation, I moved to Vancouver. In the years that I was away, I had my two sons, who are now 12 and 14, and I went to university (with that scholarship and a number of others), I spent 2 years at UNBC and 5 years at SFU, completing a Master of Arts in 2007. Currently I work as a researcher and, due to the power of the Internet, I was able to move back to Revelstoke about a year and a half ago and continue that work.
I want to share a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt: “Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home—so close and so small they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person… Such are the places where every man, woman and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination…Without concerned citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.” —Eleanor Roosevelt.
In that spirit, I have worked hard to advocate for my own two sons who both require supported learning in the classroom. With the experience I have with working as a parent advocate with the education system, I felt I needed to take the next step and run for a position on the School Board and work for change in the manner suggested by Eleanor Roosevelt, “in small places, close to home”.
Over the past nine years, that my own sons have been in the school system, I have watched the provincial government whittle away at so many aspects of our education system. In an effort to balance the provincial budget, many essential education-related services have been eliminated. Each time I have witnessed these cuts, I have written and spoken out to ensure that politicians understand that these cuts have serious impacts upon children and their families. This time, when school board elections were announced, after seriously contemplating how running would affect my family, and after speaking with so many of my friends, I made the decision to vie for a position on the Board. I believe that the experiences I have gained while living away from Revelstoke will bring new ideas to the table. That said, I have been attending board meetings the past few months and recognize some of the really successful and positive initiatives that the past Revelstoke Board has implemented. This includes the Early Childhood Development program that I am a supporter of.
I believe it is time to bring in some new energy to the school board to continue and improve on these great programs. If elected, I will bring a decade of experience on boards and a tireless dedication to human rights and access to education. I fully appreciate the challenging job that teachers and staff do every day for our children and will work hard to ensure that their jobs are respected.
I am running for school trustee because I believe that a strong education is the most important foundation that we can give our children. This is especially true of children with special needs who already experience so many hurdles in realizing their hopes and dreams. By ensuring that all students have an inclusive, stimulating, and rewarding education, we will set them up for a strong future as community members. In order for our children to have the best educational experience possible, we need to support our teachers, support staff, administration, and families. And I am a person who can help provide that support.
So on November 19, 2011, please vote for me!
In closing I would like to paraphrase Michelle Obama:
“I come here as a mom whose [boys] are the heart of my heart and the center of my world – they’re the first thing I think about when I wake up in the morning, and the last thing I think about when I go to bed at night. Their future – and all our children’s future – is my stake in this election.”