Red Deer Public School District

Angela Sommers




* Candidate profiles are published as submitted by the candidate.

Phone  403-309-4546 
Website and Social Media Pages Facebook
Background I am a 44 year old mother of three children in the Red Deer Public School District. I grew up in Red Deer and have chosen to raise my family here. I have been a parent in our school system for nine years and have ten to go, therefore have a very relevant understanding and interest in the success of our children’s educational system. My youngest child has experienced physical developmental delays, which have led to speech and cognitive delays. We as a family know first-hand the challenges and barriers that exist for parents simply attempting to access the resources needed for their children to be successful. My community has always been an integral factor in my sense of belonging and helps shape my family each day. I believe there are few better ways to champion that than through volunteering. For eight years, I sat on the Central Alberta Legal Aid Appeal Board, the last two as Chair. Until deciding to run for the Public School Office, I sat on Parent Council and the Equitable Boards at my children’s schools. Professionally, I am a Landscape Architectural Technologist, having owned and operated my own landscape design and construction business for over two decades. Additionally, I have taught at Olds College, and through many extended education programs in Red Deer, Olds and Calgary. It’s because of all this, who I am, the challenges that my family has faced, the successes (especially the small ones) we’ve built on, the causes I have dedicated my energy to helping, all of it brings me to one place, and that is to the Public School Board. I am passionate about contributing to the success of our children. If elected I will work diligently to cultivate ingenuity, adaptability, resilience and cooperation in a vibrant and viable environment, for all of our students.
Why are you running for Trustee? I have decided to run for Red Deer Public School Board Trustee because our children need to know they have the strength, knowledge and support to develop know-how skills for leadership, vision, cooperation and respect to address the ever-changing environment and social world as adults. I choose to contribute rather than only comment or critique our educational system. The inequities I am seeing within the RDPSD need to be addressed and solved. Our future doctors, teachers, mothers, engineers, architects, social workers, fathers, scientists, mechanics, nurses…. are currently now sitting in the desks at Fairview, Mountview, Gate Way, Oriole Park, Central, Lindsay Thurber…. These people are our future and if we care what that looks like we need to support them Now! I have the strength and ambition to work extremely hard to create the most sustainable, equitable and accessible school district we have seen. I support the leadership of our Teachers and Principals. They have the answers and ideas that will shape a better world for our youth. I will be accessible, receptive and reach out relentlessly to get their input. I am an inclusive and fair person and have the experience when as Chair of the Central Alberta Legal Aid Appeal Board in bringing all sides to the table. I know I can bridge the gaps that currently exist within our RDPSD. I can listen to conflicting ideas and values while putting my own bias’s aside for the good of the whole. I can stand up for those who need a voice, while focusing attention for the whole group. It is with much humility and sincere desire to contribute that I forward my candidacy for this extremely important position and would be greatly honoured to be elected.
What are your priorities for Red Deer Public Schools? Sustainability Work to secure sustainable funding. There is great opportunity in the sheer number of people directly involved in the schools. If staff, parents and relatives harness their purchasing power for basic necessities such as electricity, natural gas, and food into co-ops, the RDPS district could benefit from sustainable sources of funding while costing taxpayers and parents nothing extra than what they already pay for these services. This is a new initiative, one adopted by smaller municipalities at present, that could be applied to offsetting operating expenses. Equality Fair isn’t everybody getting the same thing; fair is everybody getting what they need in order to be successful. Centralize the district’s fundraising to guarantee the fair distribution of monies City wide events like a spell-a-thon, the Dawe Run, potentials like an art-a-thon, a food festival and other community building opportunities can and should contribute to our fundraising goals while fostering the students talents, diversity and ingenuity. Accessibility There is a considerable lack of resources for our students who may need additional help to achieve their successes. My family was introduced to “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” at Mountview School. Adopting this approach by the district as a whole would instill collaboration at all levels. Whether it be cognitive or physical delays, mental health support, nutrition programs or socio-economic supports (i.e. funding for bussing, arts, sports, field trips, etc.) the professionals, initiatives and services needed to help each of our students takes money and resources. There is an issue of growing disparity that we as community members have a duty to recognize and address. Our teachers, administration and principals are our leaders. We need to ask them what is the best way to support, and best build up our children, be it more school counsellors, Educational Assistants, technology resources and much more.
Question Week 1 - September 26

How would you ensure that parents are informed and meaningfully engaged in their child's education?

Teachers communicating our children’s educational progress is very valuable, especially at the elementary level where early prevention and correction can greatly influence a child’s life. I’ve always had quick and positive responses from teachers that I have initiated contacted with. Unfortunately, the parent teacher conferences are very short and the student lead conferences do not provide opportunities for private dialogue with teachers. Middle schools use Power School to help track academic grading, but this requires the marks to be posted in a timely manner. I realize our teachers’ time is taxed to the limit. Teachers need assistance. If we parents expect better communication about our children’s progress; this will take money to secure aid. I have researched how to secure new sustainable funding while costing taxpayers and parents little, if anything. If staff, parents and relatives of the RDPSD harness their purchasing power for basic necessities such as electricity and natural gas into co-ops, the RDPS district could benefit from sustainable sources of funding. This is a new initiative, one adopted by smaller municipalities at present. The RDPSD has a responsibility to all parents to communicate what resources are available to parents and children. The provincial and city agencies continually provide free classes and opportunities that many parents and children would attend if they were aware. Ŧ Power School is a secure web-based student management system designed to strengthen communication between the school and home. It provides parents and legal guardians online access to their children's progress in school. Parkland School Division

What changes should be made to the curriculum to best meet the needs of students?

The curriculum is provincially mandated; the school boards are our front lines to the provincial government. I have always looked to the professionals – teachers and principals for leadership. I would engage these experts with regard to curriculum changes to forward to the provincial authorities. My family has had negative experiences when changes were made to the delivery of math. The discovery method is a wonderful idea in trying to reduce the anxiety so many students have with math, but if the teachers aren’t confident with how to deliver any new approach, the student, teacher and parent all suffer. If the fundamentals are not learned - everyone becomes frustrated in addition to compromising future educational efforts. I am currently paying a tutor to teach foundational math basics for my child because of the fore mentioned change to the math curriculum. I like the “Growth Mindset”, where students are taught they can get smarter and do better by trying. Such an environment fosters students to exert the extra effort and in doing so they become the best they can be. I would love to see aspects of “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” incorporated into the curriculum, or at least in part be adopted by the whole RDPSD. The cultivated life skills would be an enormous benefit to all. Growth Mindset is: “When students believe they can get smarter, they understand that effort makes them stronger. Therefore they put in extra time and effort, and that leads to higher achievement.” The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen R. Covey presents a holistic, integrated, principle-centered approach for solving personal and professional problems… Covey reveals a step-by-step pathway for living with fairness, integrity, honesty and human dignity―principles that give us the security to adapt to change.

Question Week 2 - October 3

How would you ensure that resources are most effectively and efficiently allocated across the District to meet the diverse needs of all learners?

This year, the RDPSD incurred a $300,000 deficit due to recent legislation shortcomings; the provincial contribution of $780,000 was not able to meet all needs. With certainty we can say there is no extra money to meet staffing requirements; this is especially pronounced when reviewing the diverse needs of all learners. Much can be done to improve our situation starting with making the best use of our dollars. In the short term:

We can hire the most qualified Educational Assistants, those with specialized training. Resources like busses can be shared between schools. We can create a donation website where parents, staff and friends can donate used children’s equipment and clothing. From my construction business experience I could contribute to evaluating construction and other projects to ensure we are getting the best value. Centralizing fundraising to focus on large district wide events like festivals, swap meets, spell-a-thons, art-a-thons would eliminate the constant nickel and diming we parents endure. These funds could then be distributed to the schools and students that need it most.

A district wide publication where businesses could advertise would generate revenue in addition to serving as a community communications tool to promote educational articles, and upcoming events. School as an inclusive community could be celebrated where student and teacher achievements could be acknowledged. Longer term goals like energy co-ops where staff, parents, relatives and friends could pool their purchasing power for basic needs such as electricity and natural gas into co-ops. These pooled efforts would be modeled on initiatives in Turner Valley and Olds.

The sheer number of people directly involved in the RDPSD is a great opportunity! Our RDPSD community is the key to our financial success that will meet the needs of all learners.

What is your position on policies related to sexual orientation and gender identity?

I can only speak to this from my heart. I’ve seen very close people go through confusing and difficult times during adolescence.

As a parent it is terrifying not knowing what is happening in my children's inner world. These unknowns during this time of a child’s growth is a reality I have to accept, and I work to make it well known I’m there for all conversation topics.

I understand the reason for the provincial government to pass the new legislation with regards to QSA/GSA groups and the privacy of these children, is to provide a safe environment for them to feel connected, accepted, respected and loved. The very sad truth is the suicide rate for adolescents who identify across the LGBT, Two Spirit and non-binary spectrums, € is higher than any other group of teens.

In this case, opinions means little, if anything, the only thing that matters are the precious young lives that need support.

My hope is that a child / adolescent that chooses to engage with these school led groups would be given the language, education and support to help communicate with their parents.

I am an advocate for children and parents, and the very best thing for any child is a strong relationship with their parents. I would always support this goal, even if it takes time to eventually materialize. I also suggest we adopt such strong protection for our First Nations students.

LGBT, Two Spirit and non-binary spectrums are gender identities

Question Week 3 - October 10

Are you in favour of one publicly funded education system?

Yes, I am sincerely in favour of one publically funded education system. Public sector debt and educational needs are both sky-rocketing to near catastrophic levels; this triggers the sustainability debate to merge school systems into one.

The estimated excess of operating duplicate systems may be as high as $200 million per year in Alberta says Luke Fevin - Alberta Parents for unbiased Public Inclusive Learning. - Alberta Views September 2017 issue. Our current situation is unsustainable; pooling resources and sharing infrastructure will yield a better quality education for all students. Sharing resources and infrastructure will enhance and not negatively impact today’s program choices. We could build better state-of-the-art science labs; have updated computer and technology and information systems and have better equipped art and music programs if resources were shared.

David King - former AB Education minister says "Public school education exists to be a deliberate model of a civil democratic community." A single public funded educational system would promote inclusiveness while teaching tolerance and respect for all.

I will be an accessible and equitable voice to find an inclusive and respectful outcome for all.