Almost 19 years ago, Alison McVeigh took her seat at the Langley Board of Education table for the first time.
The longstanding trustee is retiring from School District 35 this year to pursue other priorities, including time with her family.
“I’ll continue working at my day job, and my husband and I want to do a bit more travelling and spend time with family. I’m open to new opportunities and staying involved in the community. This is our home and this is where we’ll be for the foreseeable future.”
McVeigh said a lot of thought went into her decision to step down from the board.
“I’ve always made big decisions weighing on what goes on in your heart and what goes on in your head and how you make the distinction between your head and heart. Listening to my heart I’d love to stay because I love the work and I’m inspired by it, but my head was telling me it’s time for someone else to have an opportunity, it’s time for some new energy and different perspective.”
The timing is good, said McVeigh.
“The district is at a fantastic place right now with good leadership, projects, new curriculum. We’re back in an excellent place financially. It made sense to step aside and give someone else a chance.”
During the 19 years McVeigh worked as a trustee, she said looking at the school district’s ‘bigger picture’ was one of her favourite parts.
“I’m inspired tremendously by the work that goes on in a school. I enjoyed strategic planning and looking at the bigger picture and how we can improve education to make it inspiring and a lifelong ambition for kids to be learners. Watching it evolve over the years and seeing the changes have been fascinating and exciting.”
McVeigh said it’s important that kids leave the system equipped with tools to be successful.
“Public education is what sets us apart and British Columbia has an amazing public education system. It’s not without its challenges but we continue to rank very high in the world in our results. We benefit from having an educated society and when kids have critical thinking skills and know how to work collaboratively as a team, we benefit from that.
“(Challenges are) continually advocating for funding so we have it in a consistent way to budget. There’s challenges around having enough space, or having too much space. The biggest issues we’ve dealt with are around capital and funding.”
But McVeigh said there are a number of ‘good news stories’ that make the challenges of being on the board worthwhile.
“When you see graduation results increase, when you see literacy results increase and Aboriginal results improve. When you hear individual stories of students who have overcome obstacles. There’s many teachers who go above and beyond. Apprenticeship programs opening have been a highlight.”
With the municipal election happening on Oct. 20, McVeigh said anyone running for the board needs to come to the table thinking about the bigger picture.
“It’s not about micromanaging or fixing individual projects. It’s about the big picture and serving all the students in the district and handling a very large budget. You can’t come with your own agenda. It’s a lot of work and commitment, but it’s incredibly rewarding.”