election 2018

katie lutz 560x373

Saugeen Shores Hub reached out to readers and came up with the following questions for your English Trustee candidates for the Bluewater District School Board, Saugeen Shores and Arran-Elderslie area.

Here are Katie Lutz's answers.

1) What can be done to implement curriculum in support of the teaching Canada's history with First Nations?

If elected I will bring forward to the Board a policy that mandates the inclusion of Indigenous culture and history in lessons in our schools. I believe it is important that this include local and national narratives and perspectives.

2) Where do stand on the sex ed classes using the 1998 curriculum?

Personally I believe that the 1998 Health Curriculum is vague and outdated. It does not provide our students with enough information about their bodies to allow them to stay safe and make informed decisions in our modern world.

Editor's note: Katie Lutz decided to answer Question 3 and 5 simultaneously as seen below.

3) What can be done to support the mental health and well-being of students and teachers?

5) What support can be given to schools to support increasing anxiety and depression rates amount our children and youth?

I’ve answered these two questions together. There is a lot that can be done to start providing more support for mental health challenges in our schools. There needs to be a clear understanding across the board that mental health challenges need to be treated with the same care as physical health challenges.

Secondly, there are fantastic resources that need to be brought into schools such as Mental Health First Responder training, better mental health fact sheets available for anyone who might need them, and connections with local organizations such as WES for Youth, Mentally Fit, CMHA, Addict’s Attic for both information and services.

Finally, the most important thing that can happen is for open and honest conversations in classrooms, staff rooms, board offices, school offices, and everywhere else that mental illness is a treatable illness not a personal failing, and that it can and will get better.

4) What can be done to help teachers support learning differences?

The most important support is knowledge. This can be provided through targeted training and professional development, and along with that knowledge it would be great if the complementary resources could be provided to teachers.

6) What accommodations can be made for students who can't attend school for extended periods of time or have their productivity at school adversely affected due to mental health concerns?

There is no medical distinction between mental and physical illness, so mental illness is treated like any other illness at the school level and accommodations are made for each individual case for absences. I personally have experience with this as a high school student (and post-secondary as well). I missed much of my Grade 10 year (and was much less productive too), due to a severe depressive episode. At that time, we didn’t really openly talk about it (but I’m sure at least some of my teachers figured it out), so nothing formally was done. I was able to recover academically in future years with no lasting impact on my future. If anyone is personally concerned about their mental health concerns negatively impacting their education, please speak up with your school, and also please contact me as I would be happy to talk about these concerns with anyone.

7) Can more be done to add to the anti bullying climate in schools and what can be done to find and support kids who are being isolated due to bullying?

I think this is something that all of us need to address—parents, students, teachers, administrators, everyone. We all need to ask ourselves what we are doing to address bullying. How do we talk to our kids about the other kids at school? How do we talk about other people in front of our kids? How are conversations in classrooms moderated when discussing sensitive issues? When my daughter first started Junior Kindergarten her teacher was fantastic about proactively addressing teasing before it grew into bullying, by openly talking about how everyone is different in the classroom.

At the policy level I am not sure what specifically can be done, but I do know that all of us have the power to be kind and can demonstrate this to our children by how we treat other people, and that can go a long way.

8) Do you support teaching children about LGBTQ2+ issues and identities in an age appropriate manner and putting additional systems in place to support LGBTQ2+ students?

I support teaching students about LGBTQ2+ issues and identities 100%. In our home we frequently talk with our 7 year old daughter about different family structures including LGBTQ2+, and always make sure we are open with our daughter, answering her questions about our friends who identify as LGBTQ2+. No student should ever have to go through school without their identity being acknowledged in the curriculum.

9) What is your position on merging the Public and Catholic school boards to form one system?

There is a strong historical reason for having the secular and Catholic school streams, and Catholic school registrations show that this is a very popular choice for families of many religious backgrounds for many reasons. Merging school boards requires changing to the Education Act so it is not a decision that can me made at the board level. If elected I would like to see greater collaboration between the two boards especially for providing professional development and resources.

See also: Kevin Larson; Ask a Candidate