A relatively new Maple Ridge resident announced he is joining the race to win a spot as school board trustee for Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows in the October municipal elections.
Gord McCallum has resided in Maple Ridge for three years and worked as a principal for 12 years in the Surrey school district.
“I’ve been in the school system basically my whole life, so I’m looking to bring that experience,” said McCallum.
Prior to holding elementary principal and vice-principal positions in Surrey, McCallum worked as a teacher throughout the latter and Vancouver school districts.
With 35 years of education experience, McCallum said, if elected, he would focus on funding, gifted education, screen time and helping parents navigate their students’ safe use of technology.
“I look at three issues. The biggest issue would be the Maple Ridge district is growing, so we have to be on top of that with the Ministry of Education to make sure we’re getting our fair share of money, whether it’s for additions or new schools down the road,” said McCallum.
Another concern for McCallum is gifted education, which he said entails looking into whether the district does enough for students who need to be challenged.
A question McCallum wants to explore is whether there’s enough money and time spent with students who perform in the upper end of a classroom.
“I know if I’m teaching and as an administrator, teachers do the best they can with those kids, but there’s a variety of kids in a classroom. From day one as a teacher, I find that area may fall a bit short in the education system.”
Changing technology is also an issue for McCallum.
“I worry about students now and how much time they’re spending in front of various electronics and if they’re doing it safely. We can look at how that’s expanded in the last 10 years and where it’s going to be in the next 10 years.”
McCallum said he’d like to ensure parents are aware of screen safety and technology through things like school meetings or parent meetings, where parents can discuss how their children use technology.
Strong relationship building is what McCallum calls one of his main strengths. McCallum also noted that relationship-building is key this year, as there will be a large number of new school trustees.
McCallum moved to Maple Ridge from Surrey because he wanted to purchase a home after retiring. After realizing the opportunity to run for school board trustee, McCallum saw it as his chance to give back to his community.
“I’ve always believed that you give back to your community and, for me, that’s important. I’ve been lucky throughout my life and I believe in giving back and I think I have the expertise to give back to the school district.”
Post-retirement, McCallum continues to be a teacher on-call with the Surrey School District.
Outside of the school system, McCallum was a Lions Club member for more than 30 years, an executive member for the B.C. Lions society, chairman of Timmy’s Christmas Telethon, volunteer driver for Freemason Cancer Cars, and a commissioner for the Agriculture Land Commission.