There has been a lot of talk recently about new business in Caledon and whether welcoming companies like Canadian Tire or Amazon into our community is a good thing. I don’t want to wade into the deep end of the pool in terms of politics (that’s not my forte after all) but from the perspective of a candidate running for School Trustee, what this conversation means to me is that it does invite an opportunity to think about things differently. It’s a chance to imagine how a community might look if schools and business work together for the benefit of both. Specifically, I am thinking about Co-op and Intern placement opportunities for local high school students.

In Bolton, in addition to Canadian Tire, we have a number of large employers including Mars and Husky. There are also many, many small business owners too – working to supply much needed goods and services, provide employment to residents and who add to the local economy in terms of tax base and dollars spent in the community. The same is true in both Orangeville and Shelburne. At the same time, our local DPCDSB High Schools have Co-op placement programs and Guidance Councillors dedicated to helping students find opportunities to gain “on the job” experience in a variety of fields. I believe these are partnership opportunities we need to continue to focus on.  SHSM Programs already exist and are excellent but we need to expand on available programming that is geared toward the student who is not destined for University but rather, toward a skilled trade, a career in hospitality or in automotive technology or cosmetology. (To name just a few.) Forming ongoing partnerships with local business will help to facilitate and enhance such programming.

As part of my platform I have said I would like to explore more opportunities for trades, apprenticeships and educational opportunities that reflect a broader view of the skills and capacities of students attending our schools today. We’re doing a good job and I think we can do an even better one! The mission of the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board, “in partnership with the family and church, is to provide, in a responsible manner, a Catholic education which develops spiritual, intellectual, aesthetic, emotional, social, and physical capabilities of each individual to live fully today and to meet the challenges of the future, thus enriching the community.” Fostering partnerships with local business that encourage hands-on learning for students, is just one more way to do so.