By Andrew Ehrkamp
News Editor

Serena Shaw has had a taste of what being a trustee with the Greater St. Albert Catholic Schools involves, and she’s hoping voters will let her continue.

“I have served one four-year term, and feel that I can still be of service and value to our Catholic schools,” Shaw said, adding her first term has been a learning experience. “It takes a year to get your stride as a trustee, to know things you can affect with the change and what you can’t.”

Election Day is Oct. 16.

For Shaw, there isn’t a singular issue in this election, but there are certain things she’d like to continue to work on, including collaborating and lobbying with different levels of government.

“As a trustee, I know how to work with the government to advocate for students on their behalf,” Shaw said. “And the big thing is board autonomy, making sure the school board understands its role and the government understands its role too.”

She noted there are challenges including gay-straight alliances, as well as Bill 1, which cuts school fees and removes transportation fees for eligible students who live more than 2.4 kilometres from their designated schools. “The government is telling us what we’re not allowed to charge.”

Shaw noted that Greater St. Albert Catholic Schools are leaders in inclusive education, and she plans to continue advocate for the continued success of First Nation, Metis and Inuit students.

For Shaw, a married mother of two, inclusive education is personal.

“I have an understanding of how that affects staff, how the community is positively affected by those students,” said Shaw, whose younger daughter, a Grade 11 student, has Down Syndrome. Her older daughter, 19, is a graduate of the St. Albert Catholic school system.

The school district will be opening Sister Alphonse Academy in St. Albert and St. Kateri Tekakwitha Academy in Morinville in 2018 and 2019 respectively. Shaw would like to see both to completion.

On any issue, Shaw said she’s learned how important it is that all trustees work collaboratively, noting that when they don’t, it can lead to dysfunction.

“Certainly it makes you understand how important it is to work with the board,” she said. “We have a good group – retired teachers, people who have worked in the non-profit sector, and parents. There are challenges as a board, but in the end the focus is on the students.”

Outside the boardroom, Shaw is the music coordinator and World Youth Day coordinator at St. Albert Parish, which has given her “a good understanding of the home, school and parish relationship.”

She’s also working towards her Youth Evangelization and Catholic School Trusteeship certificates through Newman Theological College.

Shaw has been a student, parent, and employee of Greater St. Albert Catholic Schools. She has also served on a number of City of St. Albert committees and as a volunteer with the Special Olympic National Winter Games in 2012.