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Supporting students out of fallout from COVID-19 pandemic top of mind for Maple Ridge school board candidate

Elaine Yamamoto is seeking her second term on board
Elaine Yamamoto is running for a second term for school board in Maple Ridge. (Special to The News0

School board trustee Elaine Yamamoto who is seeking re-election on Oct. 15, is hoping to find ways to support students and their families after the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Yamamoto wants to continue to serve the students and families of SD42 for a second term – after serving as vice chair of the school board for the past four years.

“We need to find ways to support students and families that are struggling with almost two years of loss of normal school activities and learning,” she said.

Yamamoto noted that the past board was able to make it possible for children to study remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic while keeping their ability to return to their regular classroom when ready.

And, she said, last-minute federal funding was used to upgrade ventilation systems that still provide improved air quality in every school.

“The current board brought a healthy range of backgrounds to the table. For the five new trustees elected in 2018, there was a steep learning curve. I am thankful we had a year on the job before Covid hit and we were in innovation mode.”

She was also impressed with what she says was the incredible and exhausting efforts of staff to ensure schools were open and were safe learning places students.

Yamamoto also wants to see fully-funded teaching positions for all BC correctional facilities, including Alouette Correctional Centre for Women and the Fraser Regional Correctional Centre, both in Maple Ridge. The Ministry of Education is currently moving forward with provincial motion that Yamamoto made on this topic.

“I am also looking forward to working on the next steps in our equity and anti-racism initiatives. And, of course, I will continue to advocate for new schools including the rebuilding and expansion of Eric Langton and Pitt Meadows Secondary.”

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Yamamoto represented the board in: two Maple Ridge Teachers Association bargaining agreements; the provincial English Language Learners consortium; the Education Advisory Committee; the Maple Ridge Social Policy Advisory Committee; and she has been a frequent attendee at District Parent Advisory Council meetings.

This past year Yamamoto attended all nine graduations and the 20-year employee recognition celebration – that included six secondary schools, Continuing Education, Ridge Meadows College and Outreach.

Yamamoto described her connection in the community as “deep”. As the Literacy Outreach Coordinator with the Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows Katzie Community Literacy Committee at the CEED Centre, she has worked with First Books Canada and has brought close to $200,000 worth of new children’s books for low-income families and she has also coordinated free language learning opportunities for adults.

She is the coordinator of the Hive Neighbourhood Centre at Eric Langton Elementary School, a non-profit organization that offers programs and services that help people of all ages connect with others in the community for knowledge and support. Here she collaborated with community partners to bring free parenting, food skills and family support programs into this neighbourhood school.

Yamamoto is also the volunteer chair of the Local Immigrant Partnership group, an organization that promotes the improvement of social and economic outcomes for newcomers to the community.

She has a degree in International Relations and previously worked in investment attraction and export promotion for the Ontario and then Japanese governments.

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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Colleen Flanagan

About the Author: Colleen Flanagan

Colleen Flanagan is an award-winning multimedia journalist with more than 15 years experience in the industry.
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