10 Questions with Phyllis Heppner

The other week I sent a questionnaire to every candidate running in the 2021 Langley School Board Trustee By-Election. The questions were intended to be nonpartisan, important, and focused on the future of Langley’s schools. I deeply appreciate the responses received as it would have taken these candidates serious time to respond. I hope that if you like the responses provided that you’ll share the posts of your favourite candidates. These posts are NOT endorsements of any candidate and the answers have NOT been edited. -Brad Richert

-1-

What current issues do you see as most pressing on the board?

  • Making sure that all students have the opportunity to be successful during this stressful time – especially looking out for the disadvantaged student.
  • Balancing the competing positive goals of student safety and student learning with the goals of safety and support of teachers and support workers. 

-2-

What are the challenges you foresee arising for the board in the next 18 months and the following term?

  • For the next 18 months, the primary focus of the Board must be on the issues arising from COVID. We must ensure that the solutions are not detrimental to the development of any student’s education and healthy development. 
  • Secondarily during this time, and primarily afterwards, the Board’s focus must be turned to the issues of building for our growing community, advocating for operating funding and wisely allocating the use of funds to support the learning environment.

-3-

What are your top 3 priorities for the remainder of this term?

1. COVID response: Help teachers and support staff with the difficult task of dealing with the pandemic by collaborating on thoughtful, effective solutions.

2. Find ways to help the most vulnerable students to thrive. 

3. Strongly advocate for capital and operating funding for SD35; then wisely allocate those available funds for the betterment of the community. 

-4-

How do you believe the board has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic so far? Do you believe any changes need to be made?

The board should continue to allocate much time and energy to considering pandemic issues and their impact on learning.  This is the top issue of our times.   

We need to become holistic in our response to the pandemic by paying attention to how our solutions are affecting the whole person, whether a child or adult. 

-5-

How do you plan to foster positive relationships with parents & teachers over the remainder of this term?

There is no substitute for taking time to listen to diverse voices!

This practice always better informs our considerations and thus, our decisions. 

I have always been highly engaged with people, and feel well-equipped to become informed by multiple competing perspectives of diverse parties. 

-6-

What sort of responsibility do you believe the board has in the overall community?

The board is tasked with providing the best education possible for our future citizens. Period. 

It is the board’s mandate to uphold high standards for measurable outcomes and for what is difficult to measurable: positive atmosphere in the schools. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the board to set policy for effective and efficient operation of schools, to approve the school district’s operating budget, to prepare capital plans and then advocate for their fulfillment. 

The board also has the responsibility of hearing appeals from parents and students.  It is here that my skills will be most useful. 

-7-

There are just under 1,900 new apartment condo units scheduled to be completed this year in Willoughby alone. The school board currently projects an average of approximately 1 school age child for every 6 condo units – given the recent rise in housing prices, do you believe this is enough? Why or why not?

The school district has a long history of using demographic study professionals to provide data-driven advice.  I will consider their advice based on their performance record and common sense. 

The greater challenge is to advocate to government as their past decision processes have not been sufficiently sensitive to the needs of growing communities.

-8-

Do you or have you had children in the Langley school board system? 

Yes, all 4 of my children were educated in School District 35. 

-9-

Are you planning to run for school board trustee in the 2022 general election ?

My overall goal in this stage of life is to make this a better place for our kids and grandkids to inhabit.  Not a mere thought – but a passion.  So – I am very interested in continuing with the School Board for the next term.

-10-

Why you, why now?

Why Me – because of my background in practicing the art of pedagogy and in teaching pedagogy skills; because of my personal experience with students, my interaction with parents, my involvement as a volunteer in my children’s schools. 

Why Me – because I have a proven record in leadership and am known for my ability to collaborate; because of my skills in problem-solving; because of my positive interactions with people of all ages and backgrounds, I can be a conduit of information between all stakeholders involved in the education of our children

Why Now – 

  • Because students, parents, teachers and support staff are suffering right now due to the instability of our times!  My primary concern is for suffering 
  • Because Langley is growing quickly right now!  New schools are needed now. I will advocate strongly for acquisition funds to be sent our way now. 
  • Because I am at a stage in my life where I can devote my time and energy to this lofty cause: the longterm development of students into informed, skilled and self-reliant future citizens.  There are many complex issues, but my learned skills can be put to good use. 

I have experience and passion and I am ready to serve. 


Thank you Phyllis Heppner for your responses and good luck on the rest of the campaign!

I invite my readers to join us for the “Meet Your Candidates” Live Event at TalkLangley.com on February 17, 2021, 7:00-9:00pm.

The event will be hosted on Facebook Live Stream by former Langley School Board Trustee Candy Ashdown and myself, Brad Richert, with opening remarks by former Langley School Board Chairperson Megan Dykeman, MLA (Langley East). We hope to see you there!

Authorized by, Brad Richert, registered sponsor under LECFA, 123-456-7890

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