It has been awhile since we’ve featured someone working in the world to make a difference. Much public attention has been drawn to the political arena, and so we turned to local politics to find someone working to make a difference in the public arena. Shaunda Moore is one such person, running for an elected position as a School Trustee on the board for District SD43, in the suburb of Port Moody, outside of Vancouver, British Columbia.
We spoke with Shaunda Moore while she was taking a break from campaigning for the role of School Trustee. For Moore, child advocacy and education are passions that have been a feature of her entire adult life. Before stepping into the political arena this year, she has devoted her life to her family, and to the raising of five children.
Being a mother has been one of my most successful jobs. I think I’ve worked really hard to be a good mother, combined with pretty decent raw material with my kids. They seem to be pretty amazing. I’m going to take some of the credit but mostly it is theirs.
My priority has really been the kids and my family and supporting them through school and PACs (Parent Associations). And once that has evolved into a way that I’m not needed, I get to jump into some other shoes. I’m excited to fill those and I think I can.
Throughout their lives, Moore has been involved with the parent associations and fundraising. With her youngest child now in high school, where independence is key, Moore finds that the need for parental involvement in school activities has decreased, and with space in her life to dedicate, Moore would like to work in local education in a meaningful way.
I’m at a point in my life where I want to move my focus outwards, to start having a bigger role within our community. If I combine the desire to give back and be active in our community, with the thing that I always care about – children and education – this is just the perfect natural fit.
Working at a board level there’s an opportunity to have a lasting impact by bringing fresh ideas and having the opportunity to propose possible programmes or even lobby for curriculum, if given the opportunity. I think that one of the benefits of working on the board is that you rely on everyone’s different abilities and common interests to really make it work. For myself, I am a hard worker, committed, excited, compassionate and I have the ability to take in other ideas, value them and work in a collaborative way with any number of people, easily.
As School Trustee, Moore will be making difficult decisions that impact several groups whose interests may, at times, be at odds.
Some provinces don’t have trustees, and there is an argument that they’re not needed. The Maritimes has an alternate framework in place. I think that what a school board offers is a stewardship, with a group of different people that have accountability, to cohesively make sound decisions that are really going to be in the best interests of the students, and their families and then certainly the teachers and the administration as well.
Safeguarding the education of the children of the school district is the job of all School Trustees.
I think education is essential and I think that, globally, if we could empower children through education I think we would have a completely different world. I think that equipping children with a combination of knowledge, curiosity and compassion is essential for them to peacefully engage and resolve, together, the complex issues that they will face.
Children are as good as we enable and as good as we encourage. It’s a combination of their environment and the people they’re around and then their own individual spirits. I think kids just need to know that they’re loved no matter what, and that they’re good enough just the way they are.
My children would not benefit from my work, so much, but for me that never really matters. I consider all children to have equal value, whether they are my children or someone else’s children.
Moore’s commitment that all children have equal value is reflected in her hopes for what she can do within the role of School Trustee.
Whenever I make a decision, period, I regard all children in the exact same capacity as I regard my own. I think they’re all equal and I think that whatever is going to be good enough for my children is exactly what I’d want for every other child, without a doubt. Within the district there are some schools that I think have higher needs than other schools. That’s something I care about and I’d like to be a part of evening that out. I don’t know what that would look like because it’s a role that I don’t have. But that’s something that matters, that all the children in the district are being offered the same opportunities.
Politics is not for the feint of heart, Moore admits. But, having successfully advocated for the safety and wellbeing of children, many of whom were not her own, Moore is not one to give up the battle lightly.
One of the challenges for me is that I’m not a political being and this is not a political aspiration. It is not a stepping stone and I don’t want to move on to other political endeavors. I am interested solely in education and children. The combination of those two and being able to be a part of the process where they’re growing up and entering the world is amazing to me. My intention is not coming from a political place and I’m not a competitor, so this process is very stretching for me, particularly when the job at the end of the tunnel is one of complete collaboration.
For a long time we were part of a school system where families were oppressed and our voices did not matter. We had no recourse and children really struggled. The people who should have cared didn’t care. I saw so many weaknesses, and so much disappointment and frustrations. When we donated money, we didn’t get a voice in what happened to that money. We didn’t get a voice in policies. There were too many people with too little compassion in charge of making all the significant decisions. I became very frustrated and very disillusioned.
Moving to a public school was a worry for me because previously we hadn’t had great experiences in another district. I quickly discovered that we should have moved years ago. It was just the very best experience and we have found that the teachers have been phenomenal. Our administration in SD43 continues to surprise me in all the best ways all the time. I can’t find a point to criticize and I’m so proud of that school and that district that I want to be a part of what makes it great.
As with all political races, Moore has faced her share of negative commentary and challenges on issues that are not relevant to the role. What keeps Moore motivated most is the needs of children.
I have a lot of experience advocating for children and families which I have done tirelessly and fearlessly, under really challenging circumstances. I’ve advocated for a lot of kids that are not my children, over the years. When children don’t have a voice and their parents either don’t step up or can’t step up, I will. I’m always going to be that voice for them.
Once you’re out of a school setting those opportunities aren’t really there anymore.
Voting for the position of school trustee takes place in Port Moody on Saturday, October 20th. As a newcomer to politics, we asked Moore how she would deal with not securing a seat in this election, should it come to that.
If I don’t win this seat, I will be back again in four years, until I win a seat. I have given a lot of thought to how I can continue to work for children’s education
in Port Moody. Through this process I have been meeting some of the most amazing people that are contributing to our community in really inspiring ways, and I’m quite certain that even if this role doesn’t come to fruition, right now, that an awful lot of other opportunities will be presenting themselves in the next little while. I’m really excited to see what they are and to find ways that I can continue to be involved and continue to make a difference.
Children are our most incredible resource. They’re the most amazing human beings. If I want something reframed or I want someone to uncomplicate something or I want an honest critical answer, if I ask a kid, I come closer to the truth than with just about any adult.
We asked Moore the question we ask all who are interviewed for the website: For what are you most grateful, and where do you find your greatest joy?
I find joy in people. This human connection we have with one another and this spiritual connection we have with one another – be it near or far – and the support we offer each other, are what make people amazing. Add the elements of love and friendship and that makes everything just a little bit easier, better, happier and a lot more fun.
I spend my days keeping my focus on what’s good and what I’m grateful for, so for me on a daily basis there’s so many things, all the time, that I’m grateful for. And so, to just choose one of them, I can’t. I’m grateful for the fact that I have so much to be grateful for. That might be the only way that I could honestly answer that question.