As a mom, Erika Lougheed, the new chair of the Near North School Board, experienced firsthand the challenges of learning online during the pandemic.
"During the pandemic, one of our kids really struggled with online learning and being on the screen all day," she explained. "It just did not relate well with her."
However, she says her daughter's dedicated teacher took the time to ride his bike to their rural home in Corbeil to visit his student once a week.
"She thrives off the group energy and being online, she crumbled," admitted. Lougheed about her daughter's challenges with online learning. "It was really difficult for her."
Lougheed appreciates the extra effort made by that teacher.
"That says a lot about the dedication of staff and it was so touching," she said.
"It just shows how important those relationships are between students and educators. That is really one of the key things in education, are interpersonal relationships."
It was a situation like this that helped Lougheed decide to run for a trustee position at the Near North Board.
It was at the first meeting of the new board, she was appointed as the new Near North Board Chair.
"I don't really think about the position as it being about me," admitted Lougheed, who also ran as the NDP candidate for Nipissing in the June 2022 provincial election.
"I view it as representing the group as a whole, but I was happy to accept the nomination."
Lougheed believes her experience as a councillor in East Ferris along with her understanding of the challenges that students are experiencing in her own home, will help her better understand how to deal with the issues in front of the new Near North Board.
"Our priorities should be to set up every student for success, and how to rebuild for the future in education. so that we do not leave anyone behind," she said.
"Because it does not take much. Knocking on doors in both elections, you realize that students are managing the weight of the world right now. It is far greater than in my childhood and the social and economic pressures that families are under, along with the stress of the pandemic are absolutely interconnected to students well being, and how they are functioning and performing in schools."
Lougheed believes it is important to work together.
"With my colleagues in East Ferris, it was very paramount that even when we disagreed that we were going to make sure that we did good things for residents and I am going to bring that energy forward into this board to make sure I apply that here," she said.