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Calgary teachers connect with local MLAs

June 14, 2016 Cory Hare, ATA News Managing Editor
NDP MLA Michael Connolly chats with assistant principal Cynthia Smyth during a visit to Hawkwood School.

Calgary teachers and MLAs got to know each other during an event organized by the Political Action Committee of Calgary Public Teachers Local No. 38.

Dubbed Class and Coffee, the event had 19 MLAs visiting schools in their constituencies on Thursday, April 28. Each MLA was hosted by a teacher.

“Our biggest goal was to have MLAs meet teachers and see what life is like in schools but also have teachers become familiar with the MLA of their school’s constituency,” said Stephani Clements, chair of the Political Action Committee.

When the idea arose, the local chose a particular day during a constituency week and invited all 25 Calgary MLAs to visit a local school.

“We were blown away that of 25 MLAs in the city, 20 said yes right away and 19 were able to do the visit,” Clements said.

PC MLA Ric McIver and Calgary Board of Education trustee Amber Stewart share their thoughts with students at McKenzie Towne School.

MLAs engaged with students in classrooms and then mingled with teachers in the staff room, which achieved the goal of building connections between the two groups, Clements said.

“It’s kind of out there now that teachers know how easy it is to get an MLA to come to their school and visit with students,” Clements said. “Teachers liked celebrating what was happening in schools and being able to share that with people from government.”

PC MLA Mike Ellis speaks with students at Battalion Park School.

As a large group of voters, teachers can be powerful advocates, so it’s important that they be comfortable approaching MLAs if they have education-related issues to share, she said.

Alberta Party leader Greg Clark speaks to a class at Glamorgan School.

The event also generated a flurry of letters and social media comments from MLAs, a sign that it was beneficial to them as well, Clements said. Since the event occurred, the local has received a lot of response about followup contact taking place between teachers and MLAs.

“We’re still getting feedback a month later,” ­Clements said. ❚

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