Big Lake resident and retired teacher Karen Blanchard is hoping her experience working in the district will pay dividends as she runs for school trustee in the upcoming Oct. 20 election.
Blanchard is running for the Zone 4 seat representing 150 Mile, Big Lake, Horsefly and Likely.
“I look at being a school trustee as being a service,” said Blanchard, who retired in 2008 after teaching for 35 years — most recently as a learning support teacher at 150 Mile Elementary.
“I loved working with those kids in my career. I’ve had 10 years off where I spent time doing artwork, travelling and spending time with my grandsons, but the main issue I see now is low morale [among staff in the district]. When teachers are at low morale students are at
Blanchard said she believes being a reflective listener is key to being an effective school trustee, along with have respect for students, staff and, should she be elected, fellow trustees.
She added working efficiently with available finances is also a major challenge in the district and one she admits will create a bit of a learning curve for her, however, will make it a priority to work with and understand the issue.
Blanchard’s biggest reward in her years with the district, meanwhile, was seeing students succeed at whatever challenges presented themselves.
“I’m very interested in curriculum as it relates to student success,” she said. “I would like to see schools making their own successes, no matter how small, and I’d like the school district to recognize these in some way.”
Additionally, Blanchard said she’s interested in First Nations education and how to best facilitate it.
“I’ve lived here for 35 years, my daughter went to school here, I’ve lived here the whole time and now my grandsons go to school here,” she said.
She noted she’d particularly fond of Big Lake elementary as she lives in the zone she’s running in.
“The area is just beautiful — physically, geographically and the people and our neighbours here are all great.”
Blanchard has a bachelor’s degree in English literature and has certified first-year education training.
“I’m trained in positive classroom management, learning styles and communicating with parents, and being able to teach those has really influenced my own way of communicating,” she said.
“I’m a real team player, and I actually enjoy attending meetings.”
Overall, Blanchard hopes she can have a positive influence and contribute to the district in a positive manner.
“I believe I can help contribute to solving some of the problems in the district,” she said.
In her spare time Blanchard enjoys creating artwork including printmaking and etching.
“I do my own and then usually do a run of seven or eight [prints],” she said.
“I don’t sell them. It’s just a personal interest more than anything, but I love the results of it. Each one discloses something magical.”