Thunder Bay mom encourages parents to become active in education

Aimee Gerdevich with her children Aimee Gerdevich, a mom of two students from Thunder Bay, attended her first school council meeting nine years ago to discuss an issue in her daughter's classroom. At the time, she didn't even know what a school council was; but after attending the meeting she decided to get involved in education. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Since then, Aimee has become actively involved in shaping Ontario's publicly funded education system by serving on several school councils and committees and as vice-president of The Ontario Association of Parents in Catholic Education.

Last year, she was appointed chair of Ontario's Provincial Parent Board in its inaugural year. The board, which consists of 19 parents from across Ontario, was created to provide a strong voice for all parents on the future of education in the province. It plays an important role in advising the Minister of Education on the development and implementation of effective parent engagement initiatives across Ontario. The duties of the board include monitoring parent engagement levels, advising on programs that support parent engagement and evaluating the effectiveness of these programs.

Through the board and her other numerous volunteer roles, Aimee is fully focused on getting other parents involved in education:

"Being involved allows parents to spend more time with their children, as well as raise questions and issues they may have about schools or the system. It can also be a lot of fun," says Aimee.

When it comes to parent engagement, she feels a little can go a long way. She suggests parents can do a number of things:

  • read to your children
  • join a school council
  • help out in a classroom
  • organize school events
  • encourage learning at home

Parents, through their school councils, can also apply for one of the Ministry of Education's Parent Reaching Out Grants. These grants allow parents to become more active in education by providing funding for local and regional projects. During this school year, the Ministry is supporting more than 1,300 projects through these grants.

Aimee feels that being involved in her children's education has been extremely rewarding for her. "It has made me a better role model for my children and I have met some of the most wonderful and inspiring children and adults through my participation."

She plans to continue championing the role of parents in the education system and is working with one goal in mind: "I would like for parents to be seen as important partners at the start of any discussion that involves students."

If you would like more information on your local parent organizations, please ask your child's teacher or principal.