Near North District School Board (NNDSB) Student Trustee Dora Chen shared her knowledge with fellow student trustees from across Ontario and brought home some new ideas from the recent conference of the Ontario Student Trustees Association (OSTA-AECO.)

OSTA strives to empower students. The organization works to improve public education across the province and provide professional development for Ontario student trustees.

Chen is the Public Cabinet Northern Regional Representative at OSTA, and in that role, she made two presentations to her fellow members: on special education and NNDSB Student Senate’s career education initiative.

“I had the chance to present a session on special education in Ontario to small groups of other student trustees from school boards all over Ontario,” Chen said. “I spoke about what special education meant, the history behind it, how individual education plans are created and different programs for special education that are seen at different school boards.”

Chen also enlightened her counterparts about NNDSB career pathway initiatives such as the career pathway education fair. The event, hosted by NNDSB Student Senate, was held at Chippewa Secondary School and gave students the opportunity to meet local community members, businesses and professionals in a booth-style, walk-around event. Students learned about the many opportunities and options after graduating high school and several walked away with employment and volunteer opportunities.

Chen shared this information with the entire general assembly at the conference and received numerous questions from fellow student trustees who were interested in implementing similar events in their own school boards.

In addition to sharing her knowledge and experiences, Chen also had many learning opportunities of her own.

“I learned about a social media campaign to tackle equity, diversity, and inclusion. The social media campaign included a series of media posts which described heritage months and important milestones within Ontario education,” Chen said. “This could be useful to the NNDSB Student Senate, to help raise awareness about issues and lesser-known events which celebrate diversity in our schools.”

Chen also learned about an awareness campaign focused on consumer overconsumption and the stigma around wearing donated clothing called the “Clothing Closet”

“This initiative, received very well at other school boards, comprises a donation closet at schools in which students can trade in old pieces of clothing and receive new ones. This initiative would be useful at NNDSB schools as it could help educate students on the effects of overconsumption on the environment and bring down the stigma surrounding using donations,” Chen said.

Chen greatly values the networking opportunities available at the conference to shape and improve her activities as a student trustee.

“The professional development which I receive at the conferences through keynote speakers and breakout sessions allows me to gain skills vital in my role,” Chen said. “From meeting other student trustees, I not only learn about important initiatives which I can bring back and implement with the NNDSB Student Senate, but also, I am inspired by the amazing work which is done by student leaders all over the province. This encourages me to be the best student trustee that I can be.”

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