As thousands of students head back to school in the Tri-Cities on Tuesday, Sept. 6, many will be wondering how they can get involved in their child's school.
Taking part in a school Parent Advisory Council (PAC) is one important way parents can have a meaningful difference in their child's education, according to Rosey Manhas, president of the District Parent Advisory Council (DPAC43).
"Parent participation is instrumental in the continuous efforts to keep the lines of communication fluid with the administrative staff. Being involved gives parents the opportunity to not only know what’s going on at the school, but also to provide feedback when needed," she said.
Manhas has two children in school in Coquitlam: a son going to middle school and a daughter going into Grade 1.
Her involvement in starting the Smiling Creek Elementary School PAC in the Burke Mountain community was exciting.
"The possibilities were endless," she recalled.
Looking forward to movie nights, popcorn days
"With parent involvement, we were able to have a Fruit and Veggie Program allowing our students to get a variety of healthy snacks throughout the year. Our PAC started Halloween parties and movie nights, popcorn days and other special events that were a huge hit.”
Manhas added, “We were able to provide input into the playground structure and size for the school while fundraising for library books, educational accessory tools, musical instruments and so much more.”
After her PAC term ended, Manhas moved on to DPAC in the role of health and safety coordinator; she also joined the district's Student Achievement Advisory Committee and experienced some "wonderful attributes" of SD43 that she said she didn’t even know existed.
Last year, she took on the role of vice president so she could learn alongside past president Marvin Klassen.
This past spring, during the DPAC elections, Manhas was elected DPAC43 president.
Guest speakers and presentations inform parents
"With the help of the new vice president, my friend Zainab Alkassab, we hope to continue where we left off last year with great speakers and presentations in a variety of topics that parents want to know more about,” she said.
"My goal is to educate parents about the importance of child advocacy in all aspects of their educational journey as well as focusing on equity and reconciliation."
How can you get involved?
PAC elections are in May for the following school year. But if you would like to see what it’s all about, attend a meeting earlier in the school year. Each parent/guardian is a member of the parent advisory council, but only the executive team elected can vote on certain topics that may arise throughout the year.
"Everyone is busy, but it’s the feeling you get when you are helping put smiles on children’s faces that really makes it all worth it."
DPAC, meanwhile, is an official stakeholder for SD43, and is part of district committees such as French Advisory, Student Achievement, Child Task Force, Student Wellness and Mental Health and many others.
Creating a more inclusive, diverse parent group
As president, Manhas hopes to get parents involved in helping to steer the direction of the parent organization.
"I am hopeful that I can help create a more inclusive, diverse and equitable DPAC43 and to support our district parents with their concerns and needs for their children."
Find out more on Facebook at DPAC 43 - District Parent Advisory Council, Twitter @DPAC43 or via email and phone: firstname.lastname@example.org and 604-939-3690.