Newmarket parent Pamela McCarthy has seen plenty of division within schools over the pandemic.
McCarthy said parents, teachers and students alike have been divided over issues like masking and online learning.
It is something the trained nurse said she wants to help heal.
“I’ve just seen a huge, huge divide, and I really want to repair that,” she said. “Getting on the same page with what we can all agree upon, instead of focusing on what we disagree on. We all want safety in the classroom. We all want the children to be thriving.”
McCarthy has filed to run for York Region District School Board trustee. The first-time candidate is running to replace incumbent Linda Gilbert, who has not yet filed to run again in the October election.
The new candidate has two children in the school system and said she has had involvement with school councils for the past decade.
She hopes to bring some energy and positivity to the trustee role after the challenges of the past 2-1/2 years.
“We’re not going to get there by talking about all the negativity and all the divisive topics that we have been talking about. We’ve talked about them to death,” she said. “It starts with parents, and the teachers, and (the students) feel their energy … I’m willing to do the educating there and guide them.”
School violence is also something that the board should address, she said. She recounted her daughter being the victim of violence several years ago, stabbed in the hand with a pencil and hit in the head with a book. She said it is still a problem in some schools.
“In some cases, it’s difficult for them to teach because it’s not in control, and they’re a little fearful of violence. I want to try to remove that,” she said. “We don’t want to put Band-Aids on these problems. We want to look at the grassroots.”
Continuing efforts and programming to address racism is also key, she said.
“Making sure that no one is feeling excluded at any point."
The candidate said she hopes to get door-knocking in the weeks to come to hear from voters about what they want and how to best implement some of her ideas.
“I feel positive,” she said. “I really want to find a common ground and unite people … We’re all on the same team and the same page.”