Bruce Reain was a principal for 18 years and a teacher for 17 – 35 years in total – and yet, when he retired, he couldn’t stay away from education for long.
“It’s a calling that I’ve had and something I was passionate about,” said Reain. “I retired at 60 and took four years off. There was a group trying to get me to run for town council after the G8 but I didn’t want to do that, so they said what about education? I was familiar with it – my wife was a trustee for 9 years. I was acclaimed and have enjoyed every minute since.
“It’s very gratifying to provide a better education for kids. I’m glad to be back in education again.”
Reain is part of the nine-member Trillium Lakelands District School Board and was elected as Vice Chair on December 8.
“We are charged with focusing on student achievement and well-being,” Reain explained of the role of trustee. “We make policies and allocate funds following a strategic plan. Our ultimate goal is to give all kids a chance at an excellent education.”
Working with a budget in excess of $200 million, the board oversees 41 elementary schools, seven secondary schools, and six Alternate Education and Training Centres in the District of Muskoka, Haliburton County, and the city of Kawartha Lakes.
Some local education policies are mandated provincially while others are determined at the board level.
“Within the regulations we receive from the Ministry of Education, there are some things that we are required to do,” said Reain. “Under the new contract negotiated with staff, for example, there will be a seventh PA day (added to the school calendar). That was negotiated for entire province. We had latitude to choose the day, and before we submit the model to the ministry for approval, we will make any necessary changes based on public input. (Click here to see the draft elementary calendar and here to see the draft secondary calendar.)
One of the new initiatives by the board, just in its infancy, is an idea they call Feed All Four. “We have used Maslow’s hierarchy of needs combined with the First Nations medicine wheel to consider and take care of body, mind, spirit, and emotions. If you look at the strategic action plan, you’ll see that we look at enhancing student achievement, staff involvement and parent involvement this way. It’s education but we also want to take care of the wellness of all and be cognizant that one in five students today in Ontario have some form of mental instability and need support and help. And education just isn’t math and reading any more – there are lots of things we are trying to do to give students skills for the future.”
Reain’s new role requires additional administrative duties, including chairing Committee of the Whole meetings and preparing meeting agendas. But education is still his focus and his pride in local schools and students is apparent. “Students in this area of Ontario do very well – they are very well served by the staff we have.”