Ray Richards grew up in Richmond Hill just north of Toronto and moved to Ripley in 1975 to take his first teaching job at the high school, teaching grades 6, 7 and 8. He then transferred to Kincardine where he has lived ever since. The 71-year old was a teacher for the Bruce County/Bluewater Board of Education from 1975 to 2004 and has taught every grade from JK to 8, starting with senior grades in Ripley in his first year and then slowly transitioning through the junior and primary grades.
“I loved teaching in the same town where I lived, because years later, I get to see these ‘children’ I have taught when they are all grown up and see how their life paths have progressed,” he said. “Even after they left my classroom, they never left my thoughts.”
After retiring, Richards was principal/administrator for a small private school in Kincardine for four years. Since that retirement, he has kept busy singing in many of the seniors’ homes in the area. He also enjoys singing on Queen Street in the summer, where he gets to visit with many former students, parents and anyone who wants to stop and talk. He also does volunteer driving.
“My main reason for running is my concern and compassion for children,” said Richards. “Class size is always a concern, as well as bullying and school violence, which are also problems facing teachers and students each day. No child should ever have to experience bullying or ridicule for any reason.”
“I firmly believe every child should feel safe and comfortable at school and arrive home at the end of the day saying, ‘today was a good day,” he continued. “If a child feels safe and views school as an enjoyable place to be, learning will come much easier.”
“I believe my 29 years in the classroom will be invaluable in being able to have insights into solutions that the trustees must produce for the problems schools, teachers and students face,” said Richards. “I also feel a major job of a trustee is to listen to the voice of the parents. I look forward to the opportunity of serving the parents and children in this area.”
Johnstone, along with her husband Gordon, has lived in Kincardine for over 20 years. They also lived in Ripley where their three children – Alex, Jalene and Emma – attended elementary school. Two of their children attended Kincardine District Senior School.
Johnstone has an Honours Bachelor of Social Work and a Master of Social Work in Social Welfare Policy. Her life’s work includes work in government, university research and teaching assistance, hospital and community-based health care, community development work in the not-for-profit sector, business improvement within the private sector and social work within child welfare.
For the last 20 years, Johnstone has served the Municipality of Kincardine and the Township of Huron-Kinloss as the elected public school trustee: as Board Chair and now as Vice-Chair while responsibly balancing budgets of over $240 million dollars. She is also the elected Vice-Chair of the Western Region of the Ontario Public School Board Association to advocate and strengthen public education.
“For me, publicly funded education is crucial,” said Johnstone. “It is the equalizer in our society. And it’s very important, for all children, that we have a strong public education system. Not all children come to school to learn, but all children come to school to belong. And it is in that belonging that learning may take place.”
“It is in that passion about public education, children’s well-being and service to others that I’ve officially put my name forward for re-election as your trustee,” she continued. “I’m hoping to continue to make the Bluewater District School Board the best it can be alongside students, families, education staff and community members to ensure we continue providing a safe, caring and inclusive learning and working environments that enable our students to be successful.”
“Student achievement and well-being are the primary focus for Trustees,” said Johnstone. “However, it is a critical time in public education. The three major issues facing school boards like Bluewater, which impact one another, are: staffing shortages, learning recovery (early literacy and math), and mental health/well-being. Surrounding all of these issues is the equity/diversity/inclusion lens as mandated by the Ministry of Education.”
“Learning loss accumulation has real effects on the mental health of kids,” she concluded. “Thus, I will ensure student voice is centered. I am a strong advocate and know that with the right supports, every child can thrive. As a Trustee, my goal is to encourage and foster communication in an atmosphere of mutual respect.”