Student trustees are an important and valuable voice in representing the interests of the student body at meetings of the board.
The Ontario Public Student Trustee Leadership Scholarship
The Ontario Public Student Trustee Leadership Scholarship is an award jointly provided by the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association (OPSBA) and the Public Board Council of OSTA-AECO. The intent is to recognize outstanding achievement in a leadership role and provide financial support to a graduating public board student trustee to assist with their post-secondary education plans (University, College, or Apprenticeship).
Student trustees represent the voice of students in decisions about education and they help keep students informed about important decisions that affect them. They play an important role in the education governance process and are actively working at the local board and provincial levels on a number of initiatives.
This scholarship is based on an outstanding initiative accomplished during the student trustee’s term and how the initiative positively impacted the students in their board. Two scholarships, in the amount of $500 each, are awarded.
The winners of the 2021 scholarship were:
- Firdaus Shallo, Toronto District School Board (TDSB)
A Grade 12 student at C.W. Jefferys Collegiate Institute in Toronto, Student Trustee Firdaus Shallo has shown community leadership since a young age and has impressed her teachers, fellow trustees, and senior school board staff alike throughout her year as student trustee. Firdaus has been featured in the Toronto Star, and created the Ward 4 Community Advisory Council to counter and de-centre dominant narratives surrounding the Jane-Finch community where she lives – an area that has always been perceived as having high crime rates. She plans on attending Middlebury College in Vermont and double majoring in International and Global Studies and Computer Science.
- Joy Liu, Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB)
As Student Trustee for the OCDSB and a Grade 12 student at Colonel By SS in Ottawa, Joy Liu led a campaign and motion to fund free period products in OCDSB school washrooms called the ME (Menstrual Equity) Project. While drafting the motion for the ME Project, Joy made sure to consult multiple stakeholders including LGBTQ+ student clubs and the Student Senate. Two unique clauses were created – that products also be placed in male washrooms and that students be educated on how to actually use the products. Joy says the ME Project will improve school participation for OCDSB students for years to come by ensuring that no student missing access to period products needs to miss class, leave school, or use substitutes like toilet paper. She will be attending Yale University in the fall with a double major in political science and French or political science and economics.
The winners of the 2020 scholarship were:
- Anumita Jain, Greater Essex County District School Board
A Grade 12 student at Vincent Massey SS in Windsor, Student Trustee Anumita Jain spearheaded the creation of the Association’s Handbook to Menstrual Hygiene Accessibility as co-chair of OSTA-AECO’s Student Well-being Working Group to help student trustees in other boards address the inequities in access to menstrual hygiene products in schools. Following the successful production and distribution of the handbook in February, she launched a board-wide consultation of students in Grades 6 to 12 through the Student Senate in March. After five months of work, on May 19, Anumita brought a motion to the board to ensure menstrual hygiene products would be provided for free in female and gender-neutral washrooms by June 2022, which was unanimously passed by trustees. Anumita will be attending the University of Windsor for a Bachelor degree in Behaviour Cognition and Neuroscience, and plans to attend medical school afterwards.
- Prasith Wijeweera, Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB)
As Student Trustee for the OCDSB and a Grade 12 student at Bell HS, Prasith Wijeweera spearheaded a report and consultation asking Ottawa’s City Council to improve bus services for students. Some students in the city were busing up to two hours daily, an inequity given that many were in English as a Second Language or Special Education programs. Prasith compiled thoughts from 50 students into a report and sent it to City Councillors. After a four month process, OC Transpo staff announced that improvements would not be possible due to a lack of resources, but they did alter departure times to reduce connection waiting periods for students. Prasith is encouraged that transit staff acknowledged the report and did make some changes to service. He will be pursuing a Bachelor of Civil Engineering in Public Transportation at the University of Waterloo where he will be motivated to work on improving transit systems.
All submissions were reviewed by a committee comprising OSTA-AECO’s Public Board Council executive members and trustees with the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association.
Relevant Documents and Links Related to Student Trustees
- Ontario Regulation 7/07 – Student Trustees
- OSTA-AECO Student’s Vision for Education – May 2019
- Results of the 2017 Ontario Student, Parent and Educators Survey
- OPSBA letter to the Minister of Education regarding the role of Student Trustees
- OPSBA’s comments on the Role and Responsibility of Student Trustees
- Hicks Morley legal update on Student Trustees