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Opening Keynote: Dr Gordon Neufeld

Dr. Gordon Neufeld is a Vancouver-based developmental psychologist with over 45 years of experience with children and youth and those responsible for them. A foremost authority on child development, Dr. Neufeld is an international speaker, a bestselling author (Hold On To Your Kids) and a leading interpreter of the developmental paradigm. Dr. Neufeld has a widespread reputation for making sense of complex problems and for opening doors for change. While formerly involved in university teaching and private practice, he now devotes his time to teaching and training others, including educators and helping professionals. His Neufeld Institute is now a world-wide charitable organization devoted to applying developmental science to the task of raising children. Dr. Neufeld appears regularly on radio and television. He is a father of five and a grandfather to six.

Helping Children Flourish in Challenging Times
We all want our children to flourish, that is, to become all that they were meant to be. But how do we do this, especially in challenging and uncertain times? Dr. Neufeld will provide us with a hierarchy of needs that will help us differentiate the important from the urgent, the essential from the optional, so that we can proceed with confidence in providing our children with what they truly need for their potential to unfold.

Closing Keynote: Dr Ashley Miller

Dr. Ashley Miller is a child and adolescent psychiatrist, family therapist, and award-winning educator. She is a clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of British Columbia where she serves as co-director of family therapy training. She loves working with children, teens and families daily, helping them to reconnect to their own strengths and to each other. Dr. Miller is a respected writer, speaker and media expert featured regularly at professional conferences, on air, and in publications such as Today’s Parent. She wrote What to Say to Kids When Nothing Seems to Work to bring together some of the most helpful and practical science-based strategies she has encountered over her 15 years as both a parent and a child psychiatrist. Dr. Miller's new book offers parents a step-by-step guide to some of the most common family struggles and explores new ways of responding to children that will help them calm down faster and boost their resilience to stress. She is passionate about helping parents and caregivers navigate the twists, turns, and sometimes total chaos of life with kids. Dr. Miller lives in Vancouver, BC with her husband and two children.

What to Say to Kids When Nothing Seems to Work
We’re about a year into this pandemic and many parents describe feeling exhausted, irritable and worried about how to make life manageable for their children and for themselves. While there are no easy answers, Dr. Ashley Miller will share practical strategies for improving child and parent mental health and nurturing relationships, even during these most difficult times. She’ll also share the latest neuroscience and ideas from her new book: "What to Say to Kids When Nothing Seems to Work: A Practical Guide for Parents and Caregivers".

Honourable Jennifer Whiteside - Minister of Education

Jennifer Whiteside was elected MLA for New Westminster in 2020 and is the Minister of Education. As the chief spokesperson and lead negotiator for the Hospital Employees’ Union, she has fought for better public healthcare and the rights of healthcare workers and has dedicated her career to advocating for working people. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she worked tirelessly to protect seniors and workers in nursing homes across the province. While leading B.C.’s first campaign for a living wage, she fought to ensure that work lifts people out of poverty and allows them to support their families and fully participate in their communities. Jennifer has worked for community organizations and labour unions at the provincial and national level, and in those roles has championed a wide range of social justice issues from accessible post-secondary education and affordable public childcare, to Medicare and health equity. Jennifer was born and raised in New Westminster, holds a degree in History from Simon Fraser University, and is passionate about making life better for people in her city and across B.C.

Jennifer McCrea - Assistant Deputy Minister, Learning Division, Ministry of Education

Jennifer is currently the Assistant Deputy Minister of the Learning Division within the Ministry of Education. She is a leader, a motivator, and a strategic communicator who achieves success by building skilled teams, articulating a vision and implementing an effective plan of action. She is passionate about creating strong collaborative relationships. Jennifer’s team supports the transforming of education to ensure BC students remain among the best in the world through leadership and support to school districts in the areas of Early Learning, Indigenous, Inclusive and French Education and has responsibility for student safety and wellness in the province with a strong focus on mental health. She is currently a member of the Compassionate Systems Masters Practitioners program at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has recently worked with Harvard Graduate School of Education, Global Education Leaders Program and the OECD. Jennifer has been with the BC public service more than 29 years. Her daughter is currently studying at the University of Victoria. Together, they enjoy spending time at the lake, hiking and practicing yoga.

Patricia Kovacs - Executive Director, Equity, Wellness and Inclusion, Ministry of Education

Patricia joined the BC government in 2016 coming from the Ministry of Education in Saskatchewan where she gained experience as a Regional Director leading the development of education policy, and strategic planning. Patricia currently works with the Indigenous Education Branch, the Inclusive Education Branch and the Mental Health Branch. In addition to her experience with government, Patricia has 10 years of experience in the K-12 education sector as a Special Education Teacher, a high school Vice Principal, and as a school district Coordinator of Indigenous Education. Patricia holds a Masters of Educational Psychology, a Masters of Educational Administration, and a Bachelor of Education Degree.

Mental Health in Schools
The Ministry of Education will be providing a one-hour presentation with breakout sessions to create opportunities for conversation on mental health in schools. The presentation will provide updated Ministry information and data, discuss evidence based resources and supports, outline our collective work going forward, and create space for conversation on our journey in understanding mental health in schools for leaders, educators, students, and families in BC. The Ministry attended the previous BCCPAC session to provide an overview of the Mental Health in Schools Strategy, if attendees are not familiar with this Strategy, it would be helpful to have a quick read.


Shelaina Postings - Executive Director, Sector Policy & Performance Branch, Ministry of Education

Shelaina has been with the Ministry of Education for 6 years. In this time, she has held a few roles including Executive Director of Learning Supports, Executive Director, Forecasting and Cross-Divisional Integration, and currently, Executive Director of Sector Policy + Performance.  Shelaina spent most of her early career in HR. She has a master’s in business administration and is a Chartered Professional in HR.  Shelaina also teaches at Camosun College through the School of Business.

Framework for Enhancing Student Learning
All learners need to be supported with a meaningful education that provides a pathway to a successful life. The Framework for Enhancing Student Learning is about improving student outcomes and equity of outcomes across the K-12 public education system. Under the Framework, all 60 school districts are responsible for placing students at the centre of strategic planning and aligning budget and resources to support students. Focused and evidence-informed action - that builds upon an already strong education system - is the key to truly achieving equity and opportunity for all students.

Tyrone McNeil - President, First Nations Education Steering Committee (FNESC) and vice-president of the Stó:lō Tribal Council

Tyrone McNeil is vice-president of the Stó:lō Tribal Council, president of the First Nations Education Steering Committee (FNESC), and a member of the Chiefs’ Committee on Education of the Assembly of First Nations. He also spearheaded a revisiting of Indian Control of Indian Education to reflect where First Nations are and to take a new national policy which was ratified in July 2010 AFN Annual General Assembly. This policy is titled First Nation Control of First Nation Education, It’s Our Vision, It’s Our Time July 2010. Tyrone also worked on the development of the National First Nation Language Revitalization Strategy, Implementation Plan & Costing Model which was ratified by the AFN in 2007. Tyrone is widely recognized for his strong understanding and leadership in the fields of First Nations education and First Nations rights – locally, provincially, and nationally.

First Nations Education and Your Role
This session will provide an opportunity to identify a number of priorities First Nations parents and First Nations have in the area of education by exploring some of the realities faced in public schools and, to learn more about the changes happening in the system in light of BC’s new Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act and the BC Tripartite Education Agreement (BCTEA). Discover why BCTEA is a milestone that sets out how Canada, BC and FNESC will work together, including making systemic shifts (i.e. legislative, policy and practice reforms), to support successful educational outcomes of all First Nation Students, regardless of where they live or are enrolled in school in British Columbia. This session will also discuss First Nation education priorities in the context of the COVID-19 response and its impact on learning, as well as address systemic and interpersonal racism against Indigenous students and their families within public schools. Participants will gain a better understanding of how, in their role, they can be stronger allies, combat anti-Indigenous racism and bias, support First Nations parents involvement, and move the system forward by supporting the implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Calls to Action, the Declaration Act, BCTEA, and other First Nations education initiatives. Join us and learn how you can take part in the efforts to making our public education system better suited and more inclusive for all students.

Dr Greg Gerber - Safer Schools Together

Dr. Greg Gerber is deeply engaged in the practice and scholarship of teaching and holds a Doctorate of Education (EdD). As Director of Learning at the Society of Christian Schools of British Columbia, Adjunct Professor in Education at SFU and TWU, and a Senior Technical Consultant, Greg is known for his work. He finds joy in solving complex problems and helping educators resolve tensions between practice and theoretical understanding. Greg has extensive experience in technology infrastructure and securities, curriculum and pedagogy, leadership, and instruction.

Social Media Awareness, Digital Citizenship, and Cyberbullying
This session will focus on all things digital. Your child has now entered (or is about to enter) into the peak of their digital media lives where cell phone ownership doubles, video game use explodes, and they dive into the world of social media and hypertexting. Children at this stage will encounter situations that will challenge their independence, including cyberbullying, cyberexclusion, the dangers of anonymity, privacy, sharing intimate images, and inappropriate websites. Your child is rapidly developing their personal identity with cell phone in hand and you need to be prepared. Parents/guardians play a key role in providing support and guidance during critical periods and lead the charge as a digital role model. Recommendations for family rules, parental controls and developing a family tech plan will be outlined as well as suggestions for monitoring your tween/teen’s digital life. A snapshot of current trends and concerning apps will be provided to equip you in your digital parenting strategy.

Andrea Sinclair - President, BCCPAC

Since 2017, it has been Andrea's goal to ensure BCCPAC is relevant – relevant to members, to parents, to public education. BCCPAC is the single largest stakeholder in public education and Andrea's goal was to make us equal. Andrea is so very proud to say that we are part of the provincial education structure having cemented our position in the public school system. With the support of the Board, she works hard to ensure our alliances are strong and respectful. Participating fully in all that is happening in public education and ensuring the parent perspective is heard, takes a tremendous amount of work. BCCPAC has earned the respect of public education stakeholders because we are highly credible. Andrea asks much of the Board members and she is constantly amazed at their willingness to give so much of their time. We come to meetings well-read and well-prepared. It is Andrea's promise to each of you that while she is President, BCCPAC will continue to make a difference in public education.

Parent Engagement and Succession Planning
Whether you are on a PAC or a DPAC, one or both of these is most likely a challenge you have faced and there are many reasons why it can be an issue, even in a regular school year. This session will discuss how these are connected and the small steps you need to take throughout to succeed. It takes a bit of work but the return on investment is worth it and once you shift the culture, it will reap rewards for the Executive and the parent community.