After almost a decade of providing literacy outreach services to adults and families, Elaine Yamamoto has announced she will be running for trustee in the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows School District.
Yamamoto wants to create more connections between the community and schools. She has deep roots in the area where her grandparents were pioneers and her mother attended school in Pitt Meadows. She and her husband, Christian Cowley, have made east Maple Ridge home for almost 20 years.
“The connections I’ve been able to make amongst the various community organizations as the literacy outreach facilitator for the community literacy committee and as the administrator of the Hive Neighbourhood Centre at Eric Langton elementary, will greatly aid in paving the way for more community resources to be brought into our schools,” she said in a release.
“It is a great way to restore the key role that public schools have traditionally played in anchoring our neighbourhoods.”
Yamamoto would also advocate for more early reading support for students not reading at grade level.
“It is vital for children to experience success with reading and comprehension in the first few years so that their self-image as a learner is not adversely impacted,” she said.
“Too many adults still have difficulty with their reading and self-esteem because they struggled in the classroom.”
Yamamoto said she put her University of Toronto degree in International Relations to good use while living and working in Europe and Asia, and later on in promoting trade and investment for the Ontario government.
More recently, she has focused on community development in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.
“I really enjoyed rolling out the block party grant program to strengthen our neighbourhood identities. And I am particularly proud of setting up the Children’s Clothing Freecycle at the Hive. This fall we will hold our 17th freecycle, saving money for parents and keeping clothing out of the landfill.”
Yamamoto said she has brought together 20-plus organizations to coordinate a First Books program, which distributes thousands of free, new books to local children each year. The goal is that every child has a chance to develop a love of reading and have books in their home.
As a parent in SD42 for 17 years, she helped in classrooms and on parent advisory committees.
“SD42 did a fantastic job in preparing our children for their adult lives,” she said.
“But it did require a fair bit of advocacy on our part. Every child deserves a holistic approach to education that helps them reach their full potential. As a representative, I am prepared to assist other parents in meeting the unique needs of their children in the public system.”
Yamamoto also sees a need to advocate in Victoria for the approval of new schools before subdivisions are built.
“It doesn’t make sense to wait until a crisis point is reached before funding is allocated. Realigning school catchments too often is highly disruptive to neighbourhoods, breaking up the social networks that help young families function better.”