Supporting Student Voice in Our Schools

Posted On Tuesday June 04, 2019
L-R: DDSB Leadership Education Officer Brent Woodward, 2019/2020 DDSB Student Trustee for Ajax and Pickering Arlene Wang, Pickering HS Staff Advisor Ryan Gallagher, and DDSB Trustee for Ajax Ward 3 Donna Edwards at the stage two Student Trustee election for the areas of Ajax and Pickering.

DDSB Student Trustees for the 2019/2020 school year announced

This past March and April, a two-stage election process took place within the Durham District School Board (DDSB) to elect secondary students to serve the needs of their peers and to advocate for student voice.

The DDSB has three Student Trustee positions; one to represent the areas of Ajax and Pickering, one to represent the areas of Whitby and Oshawa, and one to represent the northern municipalities of Brock, Scugog, and Uxbridge.

In stage one, each secondary school student council/parliament elects 10 Student Trustee electors who vote to elect one Student Trustee nominee to be the candidate for each municipality.

In stage two, each municipality receives 40 votes, which are divided equally among the number of schools in an area. There are then three electoral colleges to elect one Student Trustee to represent each of the three areas. Since there is only one secondary school in each of the northern municipalities, there is only a stage two election for those areas.

On April 9-11, the 2019/2020 Student Trustees were chosen. Congratulations to Grade 11 Pickering High School student Arlene Wang representing Ajax and Pickering, Grade 12 Donald A. Wilson Secondary School student Sally Meseret representing Whitby and Oshawa, and Grade 12 Brock HS student Tyler West representing Brock, Scugog, and Uxbridge! West and Meseret will both be serving a second term, having previously served as Student Trustees in 2018/2019.

Governance and Leadership

“They’re going to gain an understanding of system-level thinking that’s required as a Trustee. They’ll gain insight into prioritizing resources for the Board, and they’ll gain political savvy which revolves around the whole idea of having to be a representative of the Board of Trustees and what that means,” explains Brent Woodward, Leadership Education Officer at the DDSB.

Woodward says his role is to act as a staff advisor to the Student Trustees, “I work with the Student Trustees and advise them on political savvy, leadership strategies, and things like that.”

The Student Senate (a group of students comprised of student council presidents/prime ministers from each school, two elected student leaders from each school, and the Student Trustees) meets nine times per year to communicate and share ideas. From the Student Senate, the Student Trustees bring issues, comments, and concerns to the Board.

Wang says she believes the Student Senate and Student Trustee positions are important because, “Linking the Board with student representatives has ripple effects within the schools that have the potential to reach every student.”

Meseret agrees adding, “When students have a say in the policies and practices of our Board, this ensures that students have both a greater understanding of how decisions are made, and that those decisions will also reflect their needs.”

West says he is already thinking about what he wants to accomplish in the approaching school year, “Particularly within my riding, I would like to help students develop their skills as leaders and as active members of our school system to stand up for what they believe in and share their voice.”