After her re-election in a 6-4 vote at the annual board inaugural meeting, East York trustee Angela Kennedy is ready to continue where she left off in her second term as the chair of the Toronto Catholic District School Board.
“I’m very glad because the first year it’s about getting your feet wet and the second year is going to give me a chance to get some of the things done that I would like to accomplish,” she said.
“You never know until the end of the day, so I’m very thankful to the people who voted for me, and it’s nice to see that they have confidence in me.”
In the coming year, Kennedy is looking to improve governance efficiency of the board, build parish-school relationships and focus on fitness and wellness for children.
Karina Dubrovskaya, student trustee in her second term, is excited about Kennedy’s re-election, having watched her during her first year.
“She really has the voice of students in mind, and she really wants to represent the students and their perspective,” Dubrovskaya said. “She always looks at the needs of the students first then after that she’ll find ways to make it work within the budget or the policy.”
“There was a time where buses were cancelled for a school, and Angela fought for them to be reinstated even though that wasn’t in our budget, because she knew that those students needed to get those buses.”
Geoffrey Feldman, chair of the Catholic Parent Involvement Committee, is also optimistic about Kennedy’s second term.
“If there’s anything I have a question about, she’s always willing to phone me back within 24 hours to give me an answer,” he said. “She’s been very approachable to the parent groups, and I’m sure she will continue to work with us.”
Kennedy was first elected as a trustee for the TCDSB in November 2000 and has represented East York’s Ward 11 for four terms. She has seven sons, and has been active in local school councils for her children for as long as she can remember.
“I love advocacy, and I love helping people,” Kennedy said. “I have a passion for education, so after my kids were grown, I thought this was just the natural next step to still be involved.”
Kennedy’s experience on various councils and committees and as a parent of seven children align to help her in her role as chair of the TCDSB.
“I’m able to listen to the other trustees. I can take a thoughtful step back when needed, and parents know that I have integrity and experience,” Kennedy said.
Dubrovskaya believes a school board should be governed not just by the staff and the trustees, but in collaboration with the parents and students, and that’s what Kennedy strives to do.
Even now, Kennedy still has conversations with her children about their views on education.
“I have a lot to learn from my own children, and I’m open to that,” she said.
“My youngest son Kieran is a supply teacher, and he sent me a link about schools in Sweden. He was like, ‘look at what they do in Sweden, they have this infrastructure and there’s lots of opportunities for kids to be active and still get high academic scores with this different approach,’ and that’s something I take into consideration.”
Having grown up in the Beaches, Kennedy is the longest-serving employee of Michael Garron Hospital, formerly known as Toronto East General, with over 45 years as a registered nurse and diabetes educator under her belt.
“More than half of my life has been spent in the east end, so representing it feels very comfortable to me,” she said.
In and out of her role as a TCDSB trustee, Kennedy has been a long-time contributor to the East York community.
“I have to continue to work as a trustee for my own constituents in Ward 11,” she said.
From 2000 to 2002, she played a lead role in bringing about the diabetes education program known as DECNET (Diabetes Education Community Network of East Toronto). She has been active in St Brigid’s Out of the Cold program on the Danforth for years, and even used to have a float in the Easter parade.
Kennedy never has a moment to sit still, but it’s what she loves to do.
“I have a passion,” she said. “I have a passion for nursing, and I have a passion for advocacy.”