THE RIGHT EXPERIENCE AND THE RIGHT CHOICE
Your child is my primary focus.
Maintain healthy schools for students to learn and grow.
Promote board wide mental health and well-being best practices.
Make decisions for equity throughout the school board.
Ensure effective stewardship of school board resources.
"I'm a writer and enjoy being in the outdoors."
Neil Chopp has ben a resident of Dundas for 25 years and is a father of two. He is an active parishioner of St. Augustine's Church and has 33 years of leadership experience in Catholic Education, most notably, as an elementary school principal.
Now retired, he spends his time volunteering world wide with Sleeping Children Around the World and locally with the Rotary Club of Dundas, Brant Food for Thought, Telling Tales and Environmental clean-up. He was a Parent Council Member at St. Bernadette Elementary School, T-Ball coach and In-house league elementary school basketball coach.
WHY ARE YOU RUNNING?
I believe my 33 years of Catholic leadership and skills make me an excellent choice for Catholic School Trustee in Ward 12 and 13. Those who know me well, know I’ve been chosen to serve and how dedicated I am to use my hands, feet and voice to make a difference for others. My entire career has been in education. I would like to stay involved and to be a part of the great things happening in the HWCDSB.
I offer the right experience and the right choice.
TOP ISSUE IN THE HAMILTON AREA AND YOUR STRATEGIES FOR ADDRESSING THIS ISSUE?
I believe the top issue in Hamilton is strengthening the home, school, church connection. Research clearly indicates, the greater the parent involvement, the greater the student success. I would like to see an opportunity for parent input, to express their ideas on the ways they can demonstrate greater involvement in their children’s elementary and secondary schools. The School Board should continue to promote and encourage parents in Hamilton to volunteer in their children’s schools for universal school nutrition programs, in primary reading practice, in school masses and religious activities, on school council, or on the board-wide Parent Involvement Committee.
WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS TO BOLSTER MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORTS IN LOCAL SCHOOLS?
As Trustee I will support and encourage the school board’s best practices for improving student mental health and well-being throughout the entire school board. The school board currently utilizes a number of programs in the elementary and secondary panel and regularly updates the Trustees on program success. Through my experience in education I understand the current practices; school mental health teams, Speak Up, Tools for life, Roots of Empathy, Restorative Practices, and Christian Mediation. The school board has been doing an excellent job working from a pro-active position and searching out best practices in other boards to promote positive mental health and well-being of our children. Given the opportunity, I would be willing to be a member of a Board committee on Student Mental Health and well-being.
WITH AREAS OF FLAMBOROUGH, ANCASTER AND BINBROOK GROWING AT A FAST RATE, HOW DO YOU PLAN TO SOLVE FOR THE
The school board monitors and reports to the Trustees the growing or declining enrolments of our schools. Parent consultation by the school board should be on-going to determine the needs of the growing Catholic community throughout Hamilton. Decisions made to solve the increase/decrease in student enrolment should be done with the students and parents in mind along with the ability to finance any capital expenditure such as a building addition or new school.
WHAT ARE YOUR PRIORITIES FOR IMPROVING CATHOLIC EDUCATION IN HAMILTON?
Firstly – to encourage the board to continue and strengthen their focus on the mental health and well-being of our students. Mental health is such an important issue for the success of our students. We need to maintain and improve on programs like school mental health teams and classroom strategies that include, speak up and tools for life.
Secondly, to assist the board in improving our Christ centred learning environments in the schools. We are a system that promotes service to others, sharing our gifts and respecting the individual. We need to maintain and improve on programs like roots of empathy and Christian meditation.
The third priority - to work with the board to develop and employ additional strategies that strengthen the home school church connection. Research tells us the greater the parent involvement the greater student success.
WHAT THREE SKILLS HAVE YOU DEVELOPED THAT WOULD MAKE YOU A GOOD TRUSTEE?
Leadership skills – acquired through my work as an elementary teacher and principal. I continue to use these skills as a Rotarian in the Rotary Club of Dundas and on the Board of Directors for Brant Food for Thought.
Organization Skills – I’m committed to being prepared, using forward thinking and keeping the end in mind. Taking the time to do the necessary background work to be able to complete a task successfully.
Reflective thinking skills – my most develop skill, knowing when and how to respond to others, taking the appropriate time to make decisions and assessing my own choices and actions
WHAT TWO CHANGES YOU WOULD LIKE TO SEE OCCUR IN THE NEXT FOUR YEARS?
I would like to see the bus driver shortage issue resolved. We need to work with the Ministry, the school boards of Hamilton and the bus companies to problem solve and eliminate the driver shortage. Parents and students need to feel assured that a school bus will be arriving at the correct location and on time.
The second issue would be to advocate for a change in mindset from the Ministry of Education with regards to their capital funding for school boards in Hamilton. Capital funding is used to upkeep existing schools and build new schools. Currently the Capital funding provided by the ministry is insufficient and the School Board itself has to find the funds elsewhere to complete these much needed projects.
HOW WOULD YOU MANAGE A RECOMMENDATION TO CLOSE A SCHOOL?
As an elementary principal I had experienced two school closures and successfully managed those closures in that capacity. As a Trustee I would manage the issue this way: The staff recommendation for closure, is just that, a recommendation. The supporting data and proof for the staff
recommendation would need to evident, what the processes will be and how will parent input be attained? There are a number of steps that must be followed before any decision. These steps are clearly written in the school board by laws and policies that require parent consultation process. I would be a part of that consultation process with the Catholic parent community. During the parent consultation the Board would have to address the impact on students and parents who are being
asked to leave a school and also the impact on students and parents of the receiving school(s). The best case scenario is a win/win situation. One where a school is closed and new school is opened in the same area
for the growing needs of the community. I would be a conduit for the catholic parent community at Board meeting discussions on this issue.
WHAT THREE WORDS WOULD BEST DESCRIBE YOUR TERM AS TRUSTEE IN 2022?
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