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ETFO Members on the Campaign Trail

ETFO member who ran for office in the provincialelection reflect on the qualitie that teacher brin topolitic and on the impact of the campaig experiencon their teaching.

Katy Austin, NDP  Simcoe-GreKaty Austin says that running for office has underscored the importance of teaching critical thinking skills and encouraging students to take an active role in the democratic process. Being a teacher contributed to her confidence in public speaking and her ability to multitask during a campaign. Austin retired this spring after 23 years as a full-time teacher and currently has a long-term occasional assignment.

Cory Judson, NDP  Burlington Cory Judson ran for office in large part because as a teacher he sees the impact of poverty and the lack of affordable housing and nonprofit licensed childcare. He identifies organization, goal setting, and  self-reflection  as  useful  teaching  skills  he brought to his candidacy. Back in his grade 5/6 classroom in Brantford, Judson values the enhanced critical thinking skills he acquired as a candidate and the experience of having to consider issues from different perspectives.

Yvette Blackburn,NDP  Scarborough-Agincourt

Yvette Blackburn’s candidacy attracted strong support from her grade 8 students in Scarborough, many  of  whom  volunteered  in  her  campaign. Blackburn  believes  their  involvement  improved their leadership skills and got them more involved in the Student Vote campaign that coincided with the election.

Blackburn has also worked   as  a  program counsellor  for  at-risk  visible  minority  students, an employment readiness counsellor for women facing barriers to workplace participation, and an instructor with a police foundations program.

Frank dJong, Green Party  Davenpor

As leader of the Green Party, Frank de Jong is a seasoned campaigner, having run for federal and provincial office a dozen times. These experiences have deepened his understanding of how politics affects education and strengthened his commitment to teach young people about their civic responsibilities and the importance of being politically engaged. Teaching has helped de Jong be well organized, listen before speaking, and read his audience. His assignment as a half-time teacher of grade 7 and 8 design and technology provides him time to serve as party leader.

Lynda McDougall, NDP  Duerin-Caledon

Lynda  McDougall  first  entered  provincial  politics  when  she  ran  in  the  2005  Dufferin-Peel- Wellington-Grey by-election. Her teaching experience helped her to focus during all-candidates’ meetings and to see questions through the lens of what is best for children, families, and the community. Politics  has  taught  McDougall  valuable  listening skills. She asks herself how her response relates to the thinking of the person asking the question,  a  process  that  often  moves  others towards change. McDougall has spent 28 years teaching. She is vice-president of the Upper Grand Teacher Local and served on the ETFO provincial executive for four years.

Matt Richter, Green Party Parry Sound-Muskoka

This election was Matt Richter’s first foray into elec- toral politics. Like others, he credits teaching with giving him the  confidence and listening skills he needed for public speaking and communicating with voters. He was able to speak  directly about how  government  policy  affects  the  classroom, making use of ETFO resource materials to do so.

Richter hopes his candidacy shows his grade 6/7 students that individuals can do more than talk about issues: they can take action to effect change. His candidacy had an immediate impact on the Student Vote program in his Bracebridge school and in the board: in that election the Green Party won.

Nerene Virgin, Liberal  Hamilton Mountain

In addition to her teaching background, Nerene Virgin   brought   several  years  of  media  experience to her  candidacy. She starred in TVOntario children’s  programs  and  later  worked  in  news for  both  CBC  and  CFTO.  An  occasional  teacher with the Hamilton-Wentworth board, she has also been  a  full-time  teacher  with  assignments that include special education.

Rick Moffitt, NDP  Kitchener Centre

Rick Moffitt says his federation experience, including four years on the ETFO political action committee,  and  his  time   on  the  Waterloo  Region Labour Council executive – he has been president since 2005 – helped him in his run for provincial office. Moffit teaches grade 7 language   arts   in Waterloo. He’s been a teacher for 20 years, but spent a number of years as the communications officer for the Waterloo Region Teacher Local. Back in the classroom, Moffit is using his political  experience  to  assist  students  with  public speaking and to  develop a unit on advocacy for students.

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