Back to school, back to dealing with school issues

With the drama of bargaining, picket lines and rallies finally in the past, teachers, parents and students can now turn their attention to returning to classes next week. That means all those back-to-school pointers and advice columns the rest of Canada read before Labour Day are suddenly relevant for readers in B.C. Here’s a sampling:

Resist the back-to-school overspending tyranny

A helpful personal finance column by Rob Carrick urges parents to mind their budgets by thinking twice before upgrading perfectly good technology, skipping a few extraneous items on school-supply lists and saying no to those buy-one-get-one-half-off-another sales.

Read the full article here.


How to help kids stay cool about back to school

Psychologist and author Sara Dimerman advises on preparing kids for expected anxieties at different school levels. For example:

Grade 1 is both exciting and anxiety-provoking. Your child is likely standing tall knowing that he has joined ranks of the older kids. However, he may also be apprehensive about taking on more responsibility and spending recess on a different playground. … Rest assured that these feelings and behaviours are normal and it’s a good idea to tell him so. Share that even teachers feel nervous before school begins again. Go for a walk around the exterior of the school and spend some time in the new playground.

Read the full article here.


The top three back-to-school stresses for teens

If you’re the parent of a teenager, here’s more advice to help you anticipate students’ stress, from columnist Anthony E. Wolf:

Talk to them. Let them know that you understand that the beginning of school can be stressful. It can seem a little strange, even overwhelming, getting back into a routine, but all kids feel this way. Reassure them that if they do feel apprehensive about it, they are not alone.

Read the full article here.


Kids’ snacks that make the grade

Growing kids need to refuel every two to three hours to keep their blood sugar (glucose) levels stable as sustained blood sugar means kids will have more energy to concentrate in class and participate in after school sports. The added calories from snacks provide an opportunity to boost your child’s intake of important nutrients like calcium, iron and zinc.

What kinds of snacks? Dietician and columnist Leslie Beck suggests things like edamame, trail mix and fresh fruit and yogurt.

Read the full article here.

BCTF members ratify new six-year contract, ending B.C. teachers’ strike

BCTF President Jim Iker announcing ratification vote results on Thursday.

BCTF President Jim Iker announcing ratification vote results on Thursday.

The B.C. Teachers’ Federation membership has voted 86 per cent in favour of a new contract, ending the teachers’ strike that has kept more than half-a-million students out of the classroom.

Of 31,741 ballots cast, 27,275 were in favour of the new six-year contract, BCTF president Jim Iker announced Thursday night. There are roughly 41,000 members in all.

“With the ratification of the new collective agreement, the strike and lockout are now over,” Mr. Iker said. “Teachers and students will be back in school on Monday.”

Mr. Iker said there was a “strong vote of support for the collective agreement” despite the fact the union did not get everything it needs.

“We all know that this deal isn’t perfect, but it does provide gains for teachers, it protects our charter rights, it increases support for our students,” he said.

“There will be more classroom and specialist teachers in schools to help our students; our teachers on call will get fair pay for a day’s work and all our members will get a salary increase.”

However, several teachers have said they are not happy with the new deal. (Read our story on that here.)

Education Minister Peter Fassbender issued the following statement after the BCTF’s announcement:

“We have one of the best public education systems in the world, and that’s in large part because we have such great teachers.

“We can now focus on the path forward. This long-term agreement is an historic opportunity to work together for students – to enhance their education experience and to support their achievements.”

Mr. Iker said no lost time will be made up, though former education minister George Abbott has suggested otherwise:

Meanwhile, Thursday’s turnout was higher than the past few ratification votes:

Find more in the story on our main site here.

Grade 3 student gives up Katy Perry ticket to donate to teachers

Renzey Rozman, eight, on the picket lines with striking B.C. teachers. Renzey gave up her Katy Perry tickets to donate the $250 to teachers instead. (Photo courtesy Erin Rozman)

Renzey Rozman, eight, on the picket lines with striking B.C. teachers. Renzey gave up her Katy Perry tickets to donate the $250 to teachers instead. (Photo courtesy Erin Rozman)

This is cute: Katy Perry is Renzey Rozman’s favourite singer, and for a long time the eight-year-old Westwind Elementary student had been hoping to go to the pop star’s concert at Rogers Arena in Vancouver. On Tuesday, the day of the show, mom Erin Rozman scoured Craigslist and found a pair of tickets for $250 each. Mom wasn’t exactly thrilled about going herself, but figured she’d treat her daughter.

Then a news segment about the B.C. teachers’ strike came on.

“Renzey and I had just been on the picket line with [Westwind teachers] for an hour-and-a-half the day before, and she had heard that their strike fund ran out after four days,” Ms. Rozman said in an interview on Wednesday. “She said, ‘Katy Perry is making millions of dollars and the teachers aren’t making any money.'”

When Ms. Rozman — herself president of the Douglas College Faculty Association — mentioned the tickets were $250, her daughter asked: “Can we give it to the teachers instead?”

“It warmed my heart,” Ms. Rozman said. “My mom is a retired BCTF teacher. I thought, ‘Something I’ve taught has gone through.’ My little social activist. I’m just so proud of her.”

The money will go into a hardship fund for teachers facing financial difficulties.

* * * * * * * *

Thursday, Sept. 11 update: Katy Perry’s team heard about Renzey and hooked her up!

On Wednesday night, just two hours before the start of Katy Perry’s second (and last) show in Vancouver, the singer’s manager emailed Renzey.

“We heard about your selfless gesture of donating your Katy Perry tickets to benefit your teachers,” the email read. “Since you missed last night’s show, Katy would like to offer you free tickets to her 2nd concert (tonight!) in Vancouver.”

Ms. Rozman said her daughter “squealed in delight.”

“The artist will call ticket window woman knew Renzey by name and complimented her profusely,” Ms. Rozman said. “It was a night she’ll never forget.

“Even from the picket line, those teachers managed to teach a very important lesson — and show one eight-year-old that miracles can happen when people care. What an unexpected and amazing experience.”

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