One Elk Island Catholic School board trustee will be switching it up this school year from an administrative role to the front lines.
EICS’ Fort Saskatchewan trustee representative, Justine Wright stepped down from her position of trustee on August 27 and began her teaching career the next day. After studying education for the past two years, she’s excited to start teaching Grade 2 full-time at St. John XXIII in the Fort. The News caught up with her as she was setting up her classroom in anticipation of the first day of school.
“I’m excited to still be working with Elk Island Catholic Schools and I’m really looking forward to the next phase of my life and as a teacher,” said Wright. “Ultimately, this decision came from my experience as a trustee and I went back to university to get my teaching certification. It definitely was a springboard for that. It usually doesn’t happen that way with most trustees, usually the it’s other way around — you teach and then you become a trustee — but it’s worked out the other way for me.”
Wright served six years with EICS, a term and a half. During the 2017 election, Wright was the lone school board trustee to run unchallenged to regain her seat by acclamation. In 2013, she won by more than 60 per cent with 622 votes against Al Stuart, who garnered 412 votes.
Looking back over her time with the board, she most foundly remembers the provincial capital announcement of the new Catholic high school in Fort Saskatchewan, St. André Bessette — everything from the commitment from the former NDP government, to the groundbreaking in 2016, to the grand opening for the 2018-19 school year. The school addition came at a crucial time when EICS wanted to convert the former high school, St. John Paul II, to a middle school and to move grades from St. John XXIII to give relief to classroom sizes across all of the Fort Catholic schools.
“That has been the biggest accomplishment for me as the Fort Saskatchewan trustee. That school enabled us to grow our community, where we could spread out our students. I was definitely there from start to finish on that one,” noted Wright.
The trustee also was proud of the work she accomplished and the relationships she made with trustees across the province as the EICS at the zone level at the Alberta School Board Association. Throughout her six years, she ensured she was always available to all schools across the division in the Fort, Strathcona County, Camrose and Vegreville and she hopes her successor will maintain that high standard of accountability.
“Although I represented Fort Saskatchewan, I voted on decisions that impacted all of our schools and I was mindful of that. The person who is wanting this position, yes — be aware of the issues in Fort Saskatchewan community and you bring that information to the table — but know your vote will impact all of the students in all of the communities,” she added.
Board chair Ted Paszek thanked Wright for her six years of service.
“The EICS board of trustees and indeed the entire school division has been incredibly blessed to have Justine as a trustee since 2013. Her dedication and commitment to our division and faith-filled educational excellence has been an incredible source of strength, both as a trustee and board chair. We wish her all the success in her new role with our division as an educator,” Paszek stated.
With the trustee seat now vacant, EICS will hold a by-election on Oct. 24. Calls for nominations are already underway and Nomination Day is set for Sept. 12, when interested candidates must file their nomination paper and candidate’s acceptance forms between 10 a.m. and noon at the CLS office at 310 Broadview Road. For more information, go to eics.ab.ca/trustees/election-20172.