Bitterness towards the provincial government over public education and potential bargaining reforms as led a retired teacher and former union leader to run for a school board seat in Maple Ridge.
Nina Fowell taught in School District No. 42 for 25 years, then retired two years ago and now owns a local business with her son.
“I have so much anger toward the government over education,” she said. “They have turned school boards into businesses, and they have lost what we’re all about.”
In her career as an educator, Fowell spent 15 years at Yennadon elementary and another eight years at Thomas Haney secondary, where she taught English, communications, social studies and other courses.
She has a masters in curriculum development, and earned recognition for her unique course that has kids learning by creating their own graphic novels.
When Fowell fought breast cancer, she started the 2010 Bald and Beautiful calendar project, which was sold through the Canadian Cancer Society to benefit those struggling financially because of their illness. It featured photos of local cancer patients who had lost their hair.
Fowell said owning her own business has given her experiences that should her be an effective trustee.
“In that six years, I’ve learned what running a business is all about – budgets and taxes and the bottom line.”
Fowell is also a former vice-president of the Maple Ridge Teachers’ Association.
“I know what it is to run an organization,” she said.
She believes strongly that education policy should be set by educators, and she would like to see school boards elect “people who are willing to stand up to the government, and say, ‘Enough.’”
One key reform has to be in the negotiations process with the B.C. Teachers’ Federation.
“There’s got to be a new bargaining format – this has not worked in 20 years.”