School trustees seek re-election 

Municipal vote set for Nov. 15

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With municipal elections less than two months away, both of Whistler's elected school trustees have committed to running again.

Chris Vernon-Jarvis will seek a fourth consecutive term, while newcomer Rachael Lythe will look to be re-elected for a second term.

"I've really enjoyed my time, and feel like I've only just got my feet wet, so I'm ready for another round," Lythe said in an interview Tuesday.

"I have learned an incredible amount about the whole public education system, (and) we've put in place the new 'Pathways to Learning' education plan, so being a part of that was just an amazing experience, and very rewarding."

B.C.'s new focus on project-based learning was a big part of the decision of both Lythe and Vernon-Jarvis to seek re-election.

"We're about 18 months into this process, and we reckoned it would take five years," Vernon-Jarvis said.

"I think there's that progress to oversee and to manage, and to modify it, because when you do this, it's not in absolutes."

Implementing the new education plan is an evolutionary process, Vernon-Jarvis said, and makes for an exciting time as a school trustee.

"It's not something that you do overnight. You don't turn up and say, 'This is the great be all and end all, everyone do this,'" he said.

"It takes time and money to pass these things on, and you don't have a couple of millions of dollars just to spend on doing that, because you still have to run schools and employ teachers."

The new education plan is a result of feedback from parents, teachers and students, and their thoughts on what the future of education should entail, Vernon-Jarvis said.

"We refined that into an education plan that we think accommodates most of those ideas, or the core of those ideas, and it's considerably different from what we used to do," he said.

"Good teachers will recognize it, because they always incorporated some of these things. They always knew that children needed to think. They always knew that children needed to think critically, or to be creative."

Part of the new plan includes a focus on students' individual passions, giving them the freedom to explore and research things that they're interested in.

"It's teaching them to think outside the box, and so it's really great to see this in action," Lythe said.

Lythe, who has two boys in the public school system, said she has seen a noticeable difference.

"I've just seen so much more engagement in their learning," she said.

"They're actually talking about it and excited, and so that's a huge difference. When kids actually want to go to school and are excited about it, it's pretty cool."

For Vernon-Jarvis, the change in focus is a necessary shift.

"Kids today have an enormous number of distractions that were not there when I was in school, and to do the same education in the face of these distractions seems to be kind of running against the tide," he said.

"It's like being in a river and trying to swim upstream — you're not getting anywhere. If you can change the course of that, then maybe you can engage the kids in things that they are interested in while they're learning."

The next municipal election is set for Saturday, Nov. 15.

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