Editor’s note: These two letters were received by the Times Review prior to Thursday morning’s announcement of full strike action by the BC Teachers Federation.
Dear Mr. Hooker, trustees of School District #19 and others,
My name is Shawn Filipchuk and I am a product of the Revelstoke school system. I graduated in 1990 thanks to the support of numerous teachers and support staff. I have memories of each teacher that guided me through my educational days — and many of those memories are not of a curriculum that we were supposed to learn, but of the extra effort each teacher went through to reach out to us and grab our attention and make learning something we wanted to do, rather than had to do.
My husband and I currently have two kids in the Revelstoke school system at Begbie View Elementary. We have been blessed to have two children who love (every day, honestly — it’s insane) to go to school. Although I’m not there every day to watch them in a classroom setting, I can guarantee you that it’s probably not the reading and writing and arithmetic that gives them a love for learning.
What I can guarantee though is that they have been blessed (and, in turn, us) with the most amazing, kind, caring, empathetic teachers Revelstoke has to offer. Their teachers are fun, engaging and let learning be MORE than just letters and numbers and graphs on a page. Learning is exploring new ideas, grasping difficult concepts, making mistakes and moving forward with finding solutions.
Currently, our teachers are no longer allowed to do their job to the best of their abilities. This is not by their choice either. Thanks to the B.C. government, our teachers are NOT ALLOWED to do their job in a manner that gives them the pride of accomplishment and enjoyment of seeing a child learn that teachers have had for years. There’s no extra help for kids that need it, no extra time to plan an amazing lesson that will give a child a love for science or math or English. No extra time to help children problem solve an issue on the playground that needs attention. No extra time to reach out to that one child (of which there are many) who needs a kind shoulder, a tender ear that will listen or just a safe place to be in a time of need.
Teachers need to have an empathetic and involved style of teaching that engages all students, with reasonable class sizes and student composition. What approach works for one student doesn’t always work for the next, and our teachers are able to understand what manner works for each and every child, as individuals. If our teachers are not allowed to do their job with a manageable class size, in a manner that works for a wide range of students, I’m certain you will soon learn that kids like our kids will stop loving school and will resist learning. Kids will lose hope that schools are a safe place because robots don’t have feelings or engrossing lesson plans. Kids that need extra help will grow up not only thinking that they aren’t good enough but actually believing that they aren’t good enough to be thoughtful and contributing members of society.
What Revelstoke has is a huge number of teachers who care about our children — the very children that will be our future. They give our children a love for learning and a love for being at school where they are supported, engaged and cared about. Our children are their children. Our teachers care about their future, and our KIDS are caring about their future because they have great role models to look up to.
The way the government is handling things now is beyond disappointing. The B.C. government needs to give B.C. teachers a fair deal, soon. This means fair wage, fair class sizes, and fair class compositions. Our children are missing out on valuable learning time when schools are in session because teachers aren’t able to do what they need to engage students, to show students that they are worthy of a well-rounded education, and because our teachers aren’t feeling respected themselves.
I fully support the Revelstoke teachers and their choice to strike and believe the B.C. government is fully responsible for the chaos that is our current educational system. The B.C. government holds the key to creating a better work environment and, in turn, a better learning environment for our children.
School District #19 needs to take a stand against the B.C. government and its pure disregard for the Supreme Court ruling. School District #19 needs to stand behind their teachers and show them that they are respected as the leads for tomorrow’s future.
I respectfully request a response indicating specifically when the issue will be addressed at the school district level, and for an update regarding a stance that our paid school board staff, and elected board members will be taking regarding the education future for our children.
I am a parent in Revelstoke with one school-aged child and another who will enter the system in a few years. Our school system in Revelstoke is something to be very proud of and this is due to excellent administration and excellent teachers. Not only do our teachers excel at teaching our children the curriculum, but they teach empathy, social skills, patience, critical thinking skills, manners, work ethic, self-control, cooperation, etc… The list of methods that they use to make good citizens is endless. These values are essential to raising children who will be responsible individuals in our society. Our school system is the backbone of our society and I am disappointed that our government appears to be unable to make this connection. The teachers deserve a fair wage, and our children deserve a good education.
I fully support the teachers’ strike action. The government is disrespecting our province, our children, our society and our justice system by appealing the BC Supreme Court ruling. It is disgraceful.