Pascale Shaw is seeking a second term as trustee for SD42. (Special to The News)

Pascale Shaw is seeking a second term as trustee for SD42. (Special to The News)

Maple Ridge school board candidate says more mental health supports needed

Pascale Shaw is running for a second term

Former education assistant Pascale Shaw is looking to be re-elected to school board in the Oct. 15 election.

Shaw, who was first elected to school board in Maple Ridge four years ago, wants to learn more about the strategies the district use to help students who can not learn successfully within the confines of a classroom setting. The problem, she said, is there are no alternative spaces in school for them to learn.

If elected, Shaw also wants to examine the number of reports being filled out regarding threats and violence on school grounds. And, she said, she will be watching closely to see how the $1.6 million the district recently received from the province’s Student and Family Affordability Fund is used to address, in part, food security. Food security is a topic she would like to build on in the future.

Also important is getting the Integrated Child and Youth Team, ICY, program set up and running, she said.

The team is a part of a provincial strategy for mental health and substance use care in schools and the community at large, making it easier for children and youth to connect with the care they need. Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows was one of five regions selected to kick off the program.

“We are so desperately short on mental health supports. In order for a child to be able to ‘learn’ at school, their basic needs including food, mental health and safety in the classroom, have to be addressed and come first. Only then can learning take place,” she explained.

Shaw first ran for school board because she felt strongly that somebody on the board should be able to share the realities of what was taking place in schools. She felt that children’s learning, safety, and overall experience at school, were being impacted by a lack of space, a lack of support staff, lack of resources, and meaningful programming.

“I watched as fellow education assistant were also assaulted and injured and witnessed some very violent incidents toward other children and staff. It was shocking to see how we were all becoming so desensitized to what was taking place on a regular basis in the classroom,” she said, adding that she was also returning home in tears on a regular basis because of injuries she received while working.

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“Most concerning was that children were beginning to think that the classroom evacuations, hallway clearing and continuous disruption to their learning were normal, expected, and acceptable events,” added Shaw.

Shaw noted she has extensive experience working in education including: as a volunteer at school, with the Parent Advisory Council and also as a representative of the District Parent Advisory Council, as a parent, an education assistant, and working with children and parents outside of school as a behaviour interventionist.

And that even though she is now employed in the education sector in a neighbouring community, she remains in contact with friends and colleagues who work in the Maple Ridge school district, who have expressed concerns about current challenges they face.

COVID, the overdose crisis, food security and inflation, are just a few things that is having a tremendous affect on the mental health and well being of families in the community, explained Shaw.

“These factors have led to an increase in mental health concern for our students and staff and is placing more stress on an already stressed education system.”

Shaw is promising to focus on the topic of a better and safer education for all – in every aspect of her work, both at the table and in her advocacy.

The Maple Ridge – Pitt Meadows Board of Education is made up of five trustees representing Maple Ridge and two trustees representing Pitt Meadows. They are elected every four years at the same time as the mayor and city council for the two municipalities.

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