Monday Memo – January 11, 2016

MEMO TO: Staff Rep / Pro-D Rep
COPIES TO: STA Executive Committee
FROM: Laura Barker, STA First Vice President
Date: January 4, 2016

Please forward.

Celebration of Life for Jennifer Wadge, STA President
A heart-felt thank you to the hundreds of colleagues and friends who gathered at last week’s celebration of life to remember and pay tribute to Jennifer’s work on behalf of teachers in Surrey and around the province. We also thank the many teachers who have sent their condolences to us at the STA office, as well as those members who may have wanted to attend the celebration, but chose not to in order to allow enough room for her many colleagues, friends, and family. It was indeed a packed house, and her family was heartened by the strong attendance and kind words shared at the service by two STA officers, by Jim Iker the president of the BCTF, and by Jordan Tinney, Superintendent of the Surrey School District. Jennifer’s activism for teachers and her strong voice in support of public education will be sorely missed.

STA Policy
It is long-standing STA policy that the First Vice President performs the duties of the President in her absence. Please feel free to call or email Laura Barker, First Vice President and acting President, at the STA office with any questions or concerns you have about which you would have normally contacted the president. STA elections for the 2016/17 school year will be held as normal at our May Annual General meeting.

Election for Delegates to the BCTF’s 2016 Annual General Meeting January 20 STA Special General Meeting
If you are concerned about government decisions affecting public education, or if you would like to see for yourself the democratic processes of how the BCTF operates, this is your opportunity. Spend four days of your Spring Break (March 12 – 15) in Vancouver at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, with 700+ delegates from around the province (hotel accommodation and expenses are covered by the BCTF). The STA helps those elected to prepare for the event by holding advance meetings for STA delegates to discuss the resolutions. We also have a training session that is just for rookie delegates. 50 delegates will be elected at the January 20 General Meeting at the Bombay Hall. We also elect alternate delegates at that meeting to ensure maximum participation in case an elected delegate needs to withdraw from the delegation.

If you are interested in becoming a delegate, you may submit your name from the floor at the January 20 meeting. You can also submit a brief statement in advance of the election about why you would like to be a Surrey delegate; statements received to the STA office by Thursday, January 14 will be sent to schools by Monday January 18. Please send your write up to Gioia Breda at or fax to the STA office at 604-594-5176.

Attention All Staff Reps & Pro-D Reps!
Staff Reps and ProD Chairs remember to register for the BCTF’s new workshop “Education Change: The Big Picture.” Select ONE of the following dates to attend together if possible: January 19th, 20th, 21st, 26th, 27th or 28th. Please use the Eventbrite link to register for the session that works best for you. (Note: A few staff reps have had trouble selecting the proper Collective Agreement Article when booking the LOA online. It is likely because you are selecting “STA Business” for your leave. If you select “STARA” as your option, you will find the correct leave article.)

Professional Development day Friday, February 19th The STA Pro-D committee and the Surrey School District are jointly hosting the “Exploring Identity” Focus Day at North Surrey Secondary. Education professor Catherine McGregor will present a keynote on Exploring Teaching Identities and workshops will include Colleen Drobot’s “Making Sense of Aggression and Cultivating Resilience.” Other topics include Aboriginal Education, Mindfulness, Gender Inclusion, Thinking and Learning as a Mathematician, Thinking as a Writer and Digital Portfolios. Watch for more information about registration and additional workshops. A flyer is attached.

The Surrey English Teachers’ Association presents, “What a Poem Can Be and Do” Friday, February 19th at the North Surrey Learning Centre. Two highly acclaimed poets – Alex Leslie and Sheryda Warrener – will read from their latest books and help teachers gain insights into new and evolving poetic forms, many of which are hybrids of printed words, images, spoken texts, digital texts, and more. In the workshops you’ll have opportunities to explore some of these poetic forms in depth and to create your own through writing activities. See attached poster. Email Dave Ellison to reserve a space:

STA Convention Workshop Proposals
Our STA Convention website is open for workshop proposals – thank you to all teachers who have already submitted a proposal. Our theme this year is Changing Our Ways: Weaving Threads of Truth and Reconciliation into our Practice. We are encouraging teachers, where possible, to embed aboriginal education into their workshops, but it is not a requirement. We are accepting workshop proposals from all areas of the curriculum and teaching practice. Feel free to contact Anne McNamee at the STA if you would like to discuss your workshop. You are also welcome to contact Anne if you have an idea for speaker or facilitator that you would like to see at Convention.

If you submitted a workshop proposal but did not receive a confirmation email, please email Anne at the STA.

Job Share Information Meeting – February 11
If you are interested in Job Sharing in the coming school year, you are invited to attend our Job Share Information meeting at Eaglequest Golf Centre at 7778 – 152 Street, Surrey on February 11, 2016 from 3:45 – 6:00pm. For more information, please also visit our website at

Snow Day Information
Whenever it snows, the STA office receives inquiries from teachers about what process should be put in place at schools and what to do if it is difficult to travel to work. The STA website has detailed information on snow and snow days, which you can look at here:
In general, please remember to listen to the early news for weather reports. If schools are closed, they are closed for students only. Staff is expected to report to work unless otherwise directed. Employees though have the right and the responsibility to determine whether attempting to attend their school site in severe weather conditions could compromise their safety and their personal decision supersedes any district determinations regarding cancellation of classes. If you have questions or concerns, please contact STA Health & Safety Officer, Kristine Olsen.

Supreme Court Ruling Announcement expected
The Supreme Court of Canada has announced it will release its judgment on the BCTF application for leave to appeal on Thursday morning, January 14.

Family Responsibility Leave – Union Article G.3
In addition to the 5 unpaid Discretionary Days that members are granted, Family Responsibility Leave grants up to 5 days of unpaid leave pursuant to the BC Employment Standards Act Part 6-52:
An employee is entitled to up to 5 days of unpaid leave during each employment year to meet responsibilities related to

a) The care, health or education of a child * in the employee’s care or
b) The care or health of any other member of the employee’s immediate family **.
*”A child in the employees care” means a child under the age of 19.
**”immediate family” means the spouse, child, parent, guardian, sibling, grandchild or grandparent of an employee, and any person who lives with the employee as a member of the employee’s family. It includes common-law spouses, step-parents, and step-children and same sex partners and their children so long as they live with the employee as a member of the employee’s family.

Speaking out for Public Education
As teachers, we have long been calling on the Provincial Government to restore funding to public schools and have understood that parent/community fundraising simply allows the Provincial Government to continue to underfund public education, relying on others to close the chasm. It’s encouraging that the BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils, (BCCPAC) says the call for money from parents of kids in public school needs to stop. The article concludes with First Vice-President Farah Schroff stating, “If we want to have a strong democracy and a strong economy, we need a robust, sustainably funded, public education system.”

A timely article published last week in 24 Hrs Vancouver, Donations increasingly funding B.C. schools, delves into the fundraising practices of school districts in Metro Vancouver. It includes information provided by Liane Ricou, manager of business development with Surrey district. She highlights that when the department began in 2001, $200 000.00 was raised through the District (this would not include any fundraising done by local PACs) and by 2013/14 $2.98 million was raised through the District!

· A reminder to teachers that when sharing this information, that you are not criticizing your employer for the money raised but your government for the underfunding that causes Districts to react in this way.

Calendar events:
January 19 – Staff Rep Training, Eaglequest Golf Centre
January 19 – STA Executive Committee Meeting, STA Office
January 20 – Staff Rep Training, Eaglequest Golf Centre
January 20 – Special General Meeting, Bombay Banquet Hall
January 21 – Staff Rep Training, Eaglequest Golf Centre
January 26 – Staff Rep Training, Eaglequest Golf Centre
January 27 – Staff Rep Training, Eaglequest Golf Centre
January 28 – Staff Rep Training, Eaglequest Golf Centre
January 29-30 – BCTF Representative Assembly

If you have any questions please email directly to the following STA Table Officers: Laura Barker, Gioia Breda, Anne McNamee, Sue Heuman, Kristine Olsen and Joanna Cerazy.

Tuesday, January 12th, 2016. Filed in Category: Monday Memos

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