Mark Paralovos for Board Trustee Ward 1 and Ward 5 UGDSB Guelph
“I strongly believe that all children deserve access to a high-quality education. One that focuses on delivering a robust experience that is full and rich for the kids, and safe for the teachers.”
– Mark Paralovos
Meet Mark Paralovos
Parents want assurances that their children can learn about the world they live in and begin to form their own independent opinions, without being influenced by the personal views of their teachers or the school board. Teachers and staff are in a position of authority and will typically be respected and trusted by the students they teach, giving their personal opinions great weight and credibility. Schools should ensure that any content presented which could reasonably be seen as “partisan” or “sensitive” – political views, anti-racism or critical race theory, sexual health and gender theory, activism
and/or social justice, for example – is age appropriate and offers a balanced account of opposing views.
Single-sided partisan views and divisive identity politics must not be promoted to students, which includes encouraging students to support campaign groups promoting such views. Mark will advocate for published, clear guidance explaining schools’ policies in this regard.
Mark will promote support for student success and achievement across the board, regardless of race, gender, and/or socioeconomic status. “Brilliance” and extracurricular programs should be promoted to all students. No student should ever be excluded from a publicly funded school program because of the colour of their skin.
Teachers are telling us they don’t feel safe in their classrooms due to incidences of violence and aggressive behaviour. Students are falling behind because who could learn in an environment where behavioural outbursts aren’t handled properly. Parents and teachers are asking for targeted, in-class support. They are asking for more Child and Youth Care workers (CYCs) and Educational Assistants (EAs). They are asking for highly trained individuals who have the practical tools and experience to support students in crisis and keep classrooms safe. What they are not asking for are high paid “consultants” who can theorize but have little or no practical, in-school experience. In a perfect world we could have both. But the reality is that school boards have limited funds available, and one expert “consultant” could cost as much as three CYCs.
Mark will advocate for funds to be spent where they can serve the greatest need, and that’s more CYCs and EAs in schools.
Open communication between home and school is central to a well-functioning education system. It fosters a crucial foundation of trust between parents and educators/school administration. As parents, we often feel “out of the loop” when it comes to what our children are working on at school. We ask, “how was your day?” or, “what did you learn today?”, and the answers are inevitably “fine” and “I don’t remember”. This disconnect has been exacerbated due to Covid, with parents essentially being locked out of their child’s school for almost two years.
Mark will advocate for consistent sharing of classroom materials/content with parents and online access to more of the content presented in class (video presentations, units of study, and books being read, for example). This will promote trust, transparency, and make it easier for parents to engage with their child(ren)’s education.
The duty of transparency and accountability should also extend to Board administration. Throughout the school year, the Board promotes “vetted” supplementary resources to educators. The resources can be broad in scope, covering such topics as mental health, learning disabilities or literacy, or they may be more focused and geared towards a specific day or month (i.e. International Day of Pink or Black History Month). In many cases, parents do not have direct access to these resources (staff/educator login required). And parents are often unaware of their existence due to inconsistent communication.
Mark will advocate for consistent, clear communication to parents when supplemental resources are made available; unrestricted online access to the resources (and printed copies available upon request); published criteria for what qualifies as “vetted”; including where the resources are sourced from; and indicating the suggested age/grade level for the resources.
Mark’s professional background is in education, specializing in children’s mental health. He is a trained Child and Youth Care Worker with more than 15 years experience working with school boards and in schools. Mark is uniquely qualified for the role of trustee – an overview of his experience is outlined below:
- 15+ years working in Children’s Mental Health has given Mark relevant, practical expertise working with students, teachers, principals and school and Board administration in both the UGDSB and Waterloo Catholic District School Board (WCDSB)
- Real-world experience gained in-school, making a measurable difference in the lives of kids of all ages (K to 12) and backgrounds, including indigenous and racialized communities, children with physical and mental developmental challenges and from traumatic circumstances
- Collaboration with children’s mental health services and protection agencies, developing actionable plans to best serve the interest of the child
- Negotiating tough issues and fighting for those he represents, whether it be negotiating contracts as Union Steward or debating fellow candidates in the 2019 federal election – Mark does not shy away from difficult conversations and welcomes the open, transparent exchange of diverse views.
- Firsthand, working knowledge of current technology trends, applications, and pitfalls. Mark operates at the leading edge of web-based technologies. He fully understands the capabilities and usefulness of the Internet as an educational tool, as well as the potential risks online interactions and content and can pose to children and teens
- Community involvement, Mark volunteers as a soccer coach and previously served on the UGDSB French as a Second Language Advisory Committee (FSLAC).
Mark is a lifelong Guelph resident and his family is deeply rooted in this community. He is a proud graduate of the UGDSB, having attended Ottawa Crescent PS, King George PS and John F. Ross C.V.I. Mark has a long-term, vested interest in the UGDSB; his own children and many nieces and nephews attend UGDSB schools.
Mark is a fierce advocate for children. He has fought vigorously for the rights of his own children and will fight just as hard for yours. Children are our most precious resource, our future. Mark believes their school experience deserves to be the top priority of the Board, with clear guidelines and measurable goals. He also believes that school boards need to be transparent and accountable, to parents and taxpayers.