Welcome back to all staff and students! It is wonderful that we are able to return to in person learning again.
In January our focus is on ethics and as 2020 came to a close I reflected on the challenges and complications the year provided in the context of ethics. This time to reflect put poverty and art on my mind. COVID interrupted many people’s ability earn and their ability to experience and enjoy various forms of art.
Many families lost their main source of income or had their income become less stable and this on top of British Columbia’s history of maintaining a rate of child poverty above the national average. As I reflected on this I thought back to how in last month’s education committee we discussed some of our district’s efforts to lessen the impacts of poverty in our learners’ lives. For example, we have low barrier breakfast programs in all of our elementary schools and most schools have food available for consumption during the day. We also extend this support for more vulnerable students by sending home bags of quick and easy-to-prepare foods and basic hygiene products. Although these programs meet our learner’s immediate and basic need and I am thrilled we already have established programs to alleviate some of the impacts of poverty, I am curious what we can do as a district to address poverty at a more systemic level. I hope to continue this discussion as a board and ensure all of our decisions include a socio-economic analysis.
Why is art significant in my reflection around ethics and year end? Winter reminds me of the Nutcracker, music recitals and holiday performances. These all looked so different when experienced online. The Nutcracker before the winter break quickly became a school district tradition and for many of our learner’s this was their first live performance experience. Art provides space for discussion, exchange, connection, celebration and discovery. It is also important to a sense of belonging, safety and contributes to individual wellbeing. As we move forward, I want to explore more ways to build art into school and district spaces for students and staff to engage with.