Q&A with GEDSB School Trustees: Priorities, Challenges, Qualifications, Community Involvement

Please Note: The questions below were presented to the Candidates by the organization Folkin’ Vote, thus some responses required responses related to Norfolk County. It is fair to say the Candidates would respond similarly with regards to questions about Brant County.

Q4. What are your priorities in these areas:

  1. The School board
  2. As a trustee
  3. As student success


Rita Collver: Response not submitted
Christina Speers: Response not submitted
David VanTilborg:
(1) On the school board: I would like GEDSB to be the hub of Technological Education and Agriculture Education. I want to promote Design and Technology in the elementary schools and make sure the secondary schools get all the tools, resources and funding that is required.
(2) As a trustee, I will be touring all the schools to review their Tech and Ag programs and see what is working and where improvements can be made.
(3) Student success should be measured by the ability to navigate life independently, be a productive satisfied adult, to have a well paying career in the field they want.
Tom Waldschmidt:
1. To ensure decisions made at the board table address the needs of all students in all geographic areas of the Grand Erie District School Board.
2. To be the advocate and supporting voice of parents and students at the board table.
3. Student success should be the number one goal or the driver for all decision making at the board table. To remember that student success is different for all students and it is important to ensure we provide the necessary framework for ALL students to achieve success

Q5. What do you think is the biggest challenge for students in Norfolk County?


Rita Collver: To continue to provide students with opportunities in their learning to be successful in whatever life path they choose.
Christina Speers: Response not submitted
David VanTilborg: Jobs, Jobs, Jobs. Both after school hours and post secondary. There is a growing shortage of skilled workers in all trades. I see ads and street signs outside of businesses advertising for skilled labour all through the county. These high paying, satisfying jobs are going unfilled. We have the talent here in Southern Ontario. However we need to restart Design and Technology programs in our elementary schools, and deliver solid Tech and Agriculture Training to our high schools. The students need to have the skills to not only get a job or an apprenticeship but the skills to keep the position and achieve journeyperson status.
Tom Waldschmidt: Lack of educational resources ie EA’s, RECE’s, Enrichment classes (students bus to Simcoe). Lack of reliable high speed internet throughout all of Norfolk as it is largely rural

Q6. What qualifications make you ideally suited for this role?


Rita Collver: It is both an honour and a priviledge to have served Wards 3 & 7 of Norfolk County and the County of Brant of the Grand Erie District School Board for the last 10 plus years. My experience has taught me that parents deserve a candidate who works hard for all families.
Christina Speers: I am a parent to young students. This helps me understand from a parent or student perspective how it feels to be part of the system in today’s age. I am a project manager. This means I can take priorities and critical issues and drive results. It also means engaging subject matter experts to accomplish great things together. And it means utilizing emotional intelligence to navigate what can be a dynamic and reactive environment. I also truly care about Brant County. We have massive growth anticipated here in our community and I can help ensure our schools are included in the planning process. I have met those who are running for Council, and I know I can work well with them. As a daughter of a teacher, I have seen the challenges that a teacher or school system faces on a daily basis. We need to support those who educate us: they are the segway to our future economy and the job is no small undertaking. In short, I care. And that is what will keep me answering the phone and emails, showing up for meetings and voting on the things that matter to everyone.
David VanTilborg: I am a College of Trades licensed Auto and Truck Technician as well as a former High School Shop Teacher, business owner and Territory Manager for an international equipment manufacturer. Before that, I worked on tobacco and dairy farms in the area.
My certificates and issues I’ve been involved at a secondary school level:

  • Non violent crises intervention
  • New teacher mentoring programme ( Technological Studies)
  • Emergency response team( intruder, fire, medical)
  • Anti bulling program
  • School Council Representative (secretary)
  • Morning nutrition (breakfast program)
  • Lead for the Specialized High Skills Major Programs
  • Lead for the Ontario Youth apprenticeship Program
  • Active in Skills Canada Competitions
  • Wrote curriculum for locally developed courses
  • Student Success and Fast forward education teacher

Tom Waldschmidt: I have a long history of parent involvement, first as a school council member and chair at Paris Central School and Paris District High School. I was one of the first parents on the Grand Erie Parent Involvement Committee, and spent a two year term as Chair before being appointed as trustee in 2014. GEPIC is a committee I continue to sit on as trustee as I feel it is important to encourage parents to use their voices regarding local education.
As a Fire Prevention Officer part of my role is public education which aligns with my role of trustee. I am a supporter of public education at any age, whether it is teaching Learn Not To Burn to elementary students, Cooking Safety with Teens at the secondary level or talking about kitchen safety with senior citizens.

Q7. How are you involved in the local community?


Rita Collver: I am involved with a number of organizations with a focus on improving opportunities for all residents.
Christina Speers: I have been the snack program coordinator at my child’s school for the past few years. I have been on a committee that has begun to revitalize Paris Central Elementary School’s playground (currently taking a step back from the committee during the election period) and I have initiated a crossing guard study for downtown Paris so that student’s crossing in the downtown core have a safe way to navigate the roads.
David VanTilborg: Currently I believe the best use of my time is spent on visiting schools and parents to discuss issues that affect the success of our students of the GEDSB.
Previously I have been involved in Air Cadets, Drum corps, Cubs, Scouts and Brownies, coaching, local fundraising, car shows, walks and runs.
Tom Waldschmidt: In my profession as a Fire Prevention Officer I regularly network/meet with Norfolk Fire regarding fire safety practices in Grand Erie schools.
As a member of GEPIC, meetings are held at Waterford District High School and generally enjoy dinner in Waterford prior to the meeting.
As a trustee I attend high school graduation at both Waterford District Secondary School and Delhi District High School.
Personally I enjoy many of the amenities in Norfolk including the beautiful beaches, dining in Port Dover and driving through the beautiful countryside, stopping at local produce stands and enjoying fresh Norfolk produce.

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