Isaac Glassman – a graduate of the Ottawa Jewish Community School who is now a 17-year-old high school student at Lisgar Collegiate Institute – has been elected to the position of student trustee on the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board’s (OCDSB) Board of Trustees for 2018-2019.
Becoming a student trustee, Glassman told the Ottawa Jewish Bulletin, took about a month and was a “very intense election process.”
To become a student trustee candidate in Ottawa, Glassman explained, students had to run for the position at their own school, which involved campaigning, giving speeches and putting up posters. Once the candidates were selected, they met at Richmond Secondary School so that co-presidents and student senators from each of the schools could vote for their preferred trustee candidates.
“On the day of the election, all student trustee candidates are put in a room and have 10 minutes to prepare a plan based on materials given to you, and then present that plan to the public,” Glassman said. He said each candidate then gave a two-minute speech before the vote was held.
Glassman said candidates needed 51 per cent of the vote be selected as student trustees. The board is allowed to have “at least one but not more than three student trustees.” Glassman and Samantha Lin were elected to one-year terms.
According to Glassman, there are two levels – city and provincial – to the position of student trustee. At the city level, the most basic responsibility of student trustees is attending all OCDSB board meetings, where they have a seat at the table with the “adult trustees.” The student trustees do not have a vote at those meetings, but they are able to speak and ask questions.
Glassman said his most important responsibility at the meetings is correcting adult trustees when they present information about students which is “wrong or misrepresented.” When this happens, Glassman’s ears “perk up” and he makes corrections.
Student trustees also give high school students a voice by chairing the Student Senate, an official committee of OCDSB. According to Glassman, information the student senators gather from the schools is presented to the student trustees at the Student Senate. Glassman and Lin then pass on that information to trustees at OCDSB board meetings.
At the provincial level, student trustees from school boards across the province make up the Ontario Student Trustees Association (OSTA-AECO), which advocates on behalf of students at the provincial level by working with the Ministry of Education and other educational stakeholders.
Glassman described the association as having two pillars: student advocacy work and professional development work for student trustees. “There is nobody to teach student trustees how to do the job except other student trustees,” he explained.
According to Glassman, OSTA-AECO also provides professional development for Ontario’s student trustees in the form of three annual conferences, and they publish the Student Trustee Handbook, which Glassman refers to as the “student trustee bible.”
Jennifer Glassman, Isaac’s mother, said the family is “exceptionally proud” of him for being elected student trustee. She said she wasn’t even aware the position existed, even though she works at the OCDSB as a psychologist.
“I must say it’s really amazing that he has done this,” she said. “I really think it’s an inspiration for other children – especially Jewish children – to take on a leadership role so early on.”