Friday, 2 July 2010
Claire Tyrrell: Parent Council Member of the Year (in my opinion)
This week at my son's Grade 12 Graduation there was an award given in honour of a former member of the Parent Council. I misunderstood the whole concept of the award, thinking it was meant for a parent who had served the school community on the Parent Council, when it fact it was an annual bursary awarded to a worthy student, now in the name of our deceased friend.
So as I waited for the winner to be announced, I secretly prayed that finally someone was recognizing my wife's commitment over the past 22 plus years, since our oldest started Senior Kindergarten. He's 27 now.
From the time Claire and I attended our first PTA meeting in Toronto, between us we have probably missed only 5 meetings through two cities, three schools, three kids, countless Principals (10 I think) and three incarnations of what exactly a PTA/School Council/Parent Advisory Council actually is and does. We've raised money for Commodore computers for the library and Smith machines for the football team, AV equipment for the drama department and playground equipment (always the playground in elementary school - it's like that's all anyone ever wants - new playground equipment).
Throughout it all, even after my own career and studies made it impossible for us to attend Parent Council meetings together anymore, Claire sat on committees, held office and made sure that the discussion always included a preferential option for the poor, and a reminder that it can't be about fundraising lunches if it isn't also about helping those who have no food at all. Claire kept the high school council on track so that at the beginning of the year the money was going to be there at the end of the year to provide a bursary to support a needy student going on to higher education. Claire pulled the elementary school out of working bingo (back when it was a cash-cow) when it became more about rolling in cash and using it to buy luxuries than it was about using our resources to help our students, and the students in the school down the street, and the students in the school across town. We learned to raise a lot less money the good old fashioned way, lessons that served us well when the bottom fell out of the bingo market.
So - congratulations Claire Tyrrell, who is in my opinion the Parent Council member of the last two decades. Take the summer off. Be happy that there aren't parent councils at the University level.