Improving communication, leading by example, providing inspiration and motivation. These are some of the things Sean McConnell would like to do if successful in a run for a seat on the High Prairie School Division Board of Trustees. It’s his second attempt, having finished out of the running in a field of four candidates in 2013.
“I’ve always had a real interest in making sure we’re doing the best for our students and our children,” he says.
McConnell goes further – quite a bit further – than your average school board candidate. He points to a recent “end around” that the school division, the college and the Catholic school division did in High Prairie, regarding the site for the new college campus. That was big news in High Prairie – not so much in Slave Lake, which is the HPSD ward McConnell is running to represent. He’s glad there is again an actual race for trustee, he says, because getting in by acclamation (which is what happened in three of the four HPSD wards last time) does not provide much of a mandate for the board.
McConnell thinks the school board can and should be able to do something to improve academic achievement results in HPSD schools. These are not high and in fact have gotten worse, he says, despite the nice-sounding goals of the division.
“I’ve been disappointed every year,” he says. “They’ve all declined. Obviously, what we’re doing isn’t the right path.”
So what to do about it?
“Make smart goals and solve things,” he says. “Make them attainable; make them smaller. They follow the template, but how do we get better?”
“Ask the hard questions, make the right goals, follow up on those goals and see where we are.”
The goal of the board in this process, McConnell says, is to “be a leader. I would be inspirational and motivational. Lead by example. Sometimes it takes someone to come in with a new perspective.”
McConnell, 55, has lived 23 years in Slave Lake. He is married to schoolteacher Kim and is the father of son Ben, a Grade 11 student at Roland Michener School. He works as the Town of Slave Lake’s health and safety coordinator. Before that he worked both as a business manager for the Lakeside Outreach School in Slave Lake and as an office admin. Instructor with Northern Lakes College. He has a degree in business from the University of Alberta.
McConnell also has a decades-long involvement with Alberta Sport – as a coach (mostly snowshoeing) and mission staff member at many of the Arctic Winter Games.