"You can never have an impact on society if you have not changed yourself." - Nelson Mandela
I grew up in India in a middle class family and a very different education system. My interaction with the Peel School Board has been in the capacity of a parent, and certainly one that I'll cherish forever. The board has presented my children with numerous opportunities, and I now hope to give back to the fullest.
By way of background, I immigrated to Canada in 1999, upgraded my education and joined Siemens. I rose quickly to become Project Manager and Service Specialist. Equipped with industry knowledge, I volunteered to develop National Fire Code Standards with ULC and to instruct with Project Management Institute's Toronto chapter. I then decided to start my own company - Akal Fire. We are now Life Safety contractors for Dufferin-Peel School Board and hire trainees from Seneca College annually.
I take particular interest in how kids view their education, primarily by asking them questions. Our children want to be engineers, entrepreneurs, musicians and journalists to improve the world around them - believe it or not, this is very different from my generation. Often called the Millennials, they thrive on the potential to make a positive impact and not just on the notion of stability. Our schools need champions who can mentor these altruistic visionaries by providing the right learning environment. This is where we are struggling - our EQAO results, for example, fall 3% short of the provincial average for the junior years. The Catholic School Board, however, exceeds the provincial average. To me this is a Peel Board specific problem, and what's missing are the champions needed to lead efforts to rectify this.
Many students leave high-school with a hazy view of what's next. We need to arm them with tools to leave with a clear plan for their postsecondary education or their trade of choice.This requires a focus on developing self-discipline and goal-setting in the younger years, and collaboration from the parents. The earlier they can "test drive" their careers, the better decisions they can make.
My own children's studied in the Peel School Board system. My older son went to Turner Fenton, graduated in 2009 and then went on to the world's #1 University - MIT (in Boston). My younger son graduated from North Park Secondary School in 2011 and is a Royal Canadian Air Force Squadron Leader at the Royal Military College (in Kingston) getting ready to serve our country. My daughter, in grade 10, runs the Anand Lotus Yoga Show on Rogers TV for seniors, which won Brampton's Art Acclaim Award 2013. All three complemented their education with independent activities - either through internships or self-driven projects. Peel Board can offer an incredible diversity of activities to every student with the right framework. The teachers of our school board who helped my children reach their dreams are doing an incredible job. What they now need is a champion who can advocate for programs that complement complement what is being taught in the academic setting.
Canada is a country of dreamers - immigrants come here every day looking for a brighter future. Dreaming big is in our DNA as Canadians and we need to encourage that in our children as well. What Peel Board needs is a champion who can communicate this vision, and be the voice of reason to both the board and the parents. I can be that champion. That’s why I am asking for your vote. You are the one who can bring this change. Please bring your neighbours and friends to polling booth on October 27 to make this change happen. Together, we can make a huge difference!
i) Learning Environment: Peel Board's EQAO scores fall 3% below the provincial average. My goal is to strengthen the early and middle year programs by bringing academic enrichment programs to more schools in our wards to help students overcome challenges in numeracy and reading. Reduction in class sizes will certainly be one of the factors in accomplishing this goal.
ii) Community Engagement: Encourage programs that cultivate self-discipline and interpersonal developments. This is necessary to inspire self-confidence so students are able to communicate, set their own goals and create a vision for their own future. Parental engagement through regular communication is a crucial component of this, as I believe it is important for parents to be aware of available resources and provide feedback to fine-tune programs.
iii) Professional Development: Many schools offer the "Specialist High Skills Major." In order to increase the value of such programs, I want to engage strong private sector partners to present students with career development opportunities through internship/professional development programs. It is crucial to get practical experience to complement one's formal education. Students often fail to make real-life connections with academic knowledge.
2014 – Board member for Ontario Chapter of Fire Alarm Association.
2013 – Sponsor member for developing TV show - Anand Lotus Yoga Show - for Seniors. The show airs on Rogers TV and was the winner of Brampton's Arts Acclaim Award 2013.
2012 – Facilitator for PMP exam review course at the second largest Project Management Institute Chapter at Toronto.
2011 – ULC committee member to develop current revision of National Fire Alarm Standards S-536 & S-537.
2010 – Board member for Share-IT at Community Environment Alliance Brampton.
2010 – Brampton Police Community Liaison Committee member to fundraise for various events such as Food and Toy drive.
2006-09 – Supervised Shoreline Cleanups for multiple years with Air Cadets of 800 Black Forest and 758 Argus squadrons.