Steps for Students - Tulani Ackerman

I have biked throughout the province challenged by the vast mountain ranges and thrilled by the incredibly beautiful scenery. My teeth have become my windshield for bugs of all shapes and sizes. I learned a lot about my own inner strength and what it take s to endure days of hills, bugs, rain, wind, and heat. I am an ordinary woman who had a vision and felt that I should follow it by embarking on this journey that I feel any one of you could have done just as well as I have. I would like to share my heart, vision and thoughts with you.

I was inspired by New Denver’s school because of the food and flower garden that the students have taken full responsibility and pride in.
I was inspired by the long lasting and meaningful relationships built in South Slocan at Mount Sentinel School between teachers, parents and students. It encouraged me immensely to see a community work as a team for the betterment of their children.
I was inspired and humbled by people’s support and encouragement towards my vision.

However, I also listened to mothers as they cried about their children falling through the cracks and about theirs boys being lost in this system that they feel is designed for girls.
I listened to a young man as he expressed his anger at being called lazy in his grade 4 class rather than receiving support to work at his best within his disabilities.
I heard the anger in the parents’ voices knowing that due to school closures, their children would have to take a bus for hours to get to school.
I heard the anger and fear in the parents’ voices as they questioned how their children would survive a system that places them in overcrowded classrooms or that provides for little or no connection or support from teacher to student- product rather than process- like a fast food chain.

These are a few things that the public has shared with me along my journey:

• More one-on-one time with teachers
• Smaller class sizes
• Experiential learning where the world is the classroom- (the Daycare in Telkwa displayed this perfectly as we watched children hover over a dead bird amazed by this little creature. It was encouraging to see that curiosity and desire for learning from these children.
• More life skills
• Appreciation and acknowledgement of all learning styles
• Communities wanting to be part of the schools not separate entities

However, this can only happen if each of us does our part. The only answer is to work together and that means parents, teachers, government, and ministry of education and community members. We cannot continue to fight amongst ourselves and allow our society and education to become more fragmented. We, as individuals, find it too easy to blame the government or the ministry of education, or the teachers or the parents or the community. Though government funding will always be an issue, we must all take responsibility for the lack of trust and confidence in the public education system. We have become so focused on what we want and need that we have forgotten what really matters. Children do not see colour, religion or race. They see friends. Can we as adults come together, drop our judgments, selfishness and cynicism to take care of all of the children in this province not just our own.

One day I envision a British Columbia where our children are our first priority. Where we make every decision based on whether it hinders or helps our children. Where parents, teachers and government all do their part.

How did we become a society where we feel entitled to everything and only think about ourselves?
Our challenge is to think not of ourselves but what is best for the children of this province. They are our future.

Thank you

See Tulani’s website and coverage from her journey