Giving time for better schools

Parents help councils tackle challenges

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They come from different walks of life but Judith Cameron, Millie Khan and Khalid Mahmood have a few important things in common -- they're parents and they're passionate about education.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 25/07/2011 (4089 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

They come from different walks of life but Judith Cameron, Millie Khan and Khalid Mahmood have a few important things in common — they’re parents and they’re passionate about education.

That’s why the trio serves as volunteer board members with the Manitoba Association of Parent Councils (MAPC). The organization assists parent advisory councils across the province in dealing with many of the challenges they face by providing education, advice and support, in addition to helping the groups to network with other groups. It also runs an advocacy program, helping parents to navigate the complex education system if they run into challenges.

Cameron, a Gimli resident, joined the board seven years ago and is currently serving as its president. Part of a military family that was often on the move, she found getting involved with her children’s schools was a great way to fit into a new community.

Volunteers (from left) Judith Cameron, Millie Khan, and Khalid Mahmood help the community by networking in education.

“It was a great place to meet other parents. When we settled in Gimli 10 years ago, the first thing we did was get involved with the schools and the parent council,” said Cameron, a mother of three who works with the Interlake Adult Learning Association, in addition to doing some instructing for Red River College.

She said it was through the parent council in Gimli she first heard about MAPC. Interested in some of the organization’s programming, she attended an annual general meeting and soon after became a board member.

“As a parent, we’re usually just classified as parents and I don’t want to be regarded as just a parent. I’m so much more than that. My voice is important and I think what I contribute is important,” she said, adding her role with the organization challenges her and allows her to share her skills in a meaningful way.

Mahmood, who immigrated to Canada from Pakistan in 1974, has sat on the MAPC board for 12 years. He joined after his four children graduated from high school and his days of sitting on a parent advisory council were over. Still wanting to be involved with education, he joined MAPC — a volunteer role he says allows him to play a part in enhancing the education system and advocating on behalf of Manitoba students — both of which fit with his beliefs.

“When you come as an immigrant to this country, that’s one of things we want our kids to get — the best education you can get,” said Mahmood, an employee with the Winnipeg School Division.

For Khan, a community educator and integration specialist with the St. Raphael Wellness Centre, volunteering with MAPC was a way to give back in effective ways. Not only is she helping her daughter’s school but also parent councils across the province.

“As a busy parent you only have so much time,” said Khan, who has a school-aged daughter and an adult daughter. “When my eldest daughter graduated I was used to the chaperoning and running the parent councils but as time went, I learned that it’s all the common issues — all the same things, all the same problems and all the same solutions. If one school found something that worked I thought why don’t we connect some dots here.”

If you would like more information or would like to become a volunteer MAPC, please call Naomi Kruse at 956-1770 or toll-free at 1-877-290-4702. Information can also be found online at www.mapc.mb.ca

If you know a special volunteer who strives to make their community a better place to live, please contact Erin Madden at erinmadden@shaw.ca

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