Board of Directors

President Brandi Rai, Edmonton

There are many perspectives and needs expressed by parents across the province and being able to connect with those parents through their school councils is a privilege for me.

There are many perspectives and needs expressed by parents across the province and being able to connect with those parents through their school councils is a privilege for me.

ASCApresident@albertaschoolcouncils.ca (Media inquiries to jolainek@albertaschoolcouncils.ca)

Brandi has a passion for public education – to ensure it prepares children to be leaders in our world. Equitable access to a quality education is what our children deserve. 

Married to a teacher, with five children in grades 6 through 11, and many pets, Brandi lives in Edmonton. She has served as executive on multiple school councils, is involved with fundraising societies, and is a frequent school volunteer, with a lifelong goal of serving others.

She is drawn to ASCA’s support of school councils in the province because it ensures that all parents have the opportunity for engagement and the ability to determine their definition of effectiveness within their local communities. Parent voice in education is crucial to student success. Education is a foundational pillar in society and having equitable access to public education is vital for Albertans.

Brandi attended her first ASCA Annual General Meeting (AGM) in 2014 and was elected as a Board Director at the 2016 AGM. She was elected Vice President at the 2018 AGM, and elected President at the 2020 AGM.

Respect in School Certified

 

Vice President Shelley Odishaw, Red Deer

“Parent involvement is key in a child's success. The parent voice is key in education's success.”

“Parent involvement is key in a child's success. The parent voice is key in education's success.”

Shelley lives in Red Deer with her husband and two kids, 18 and 14. She has been a volunteer in Red Deer Public Schools since her oldest started school and an executive on school councils since her youngest started school. 

Being involved in school councils introduced her to people who are as passionate about education as she is. Attending the ASCA conference for the first time in 2017, she became a Director to learn more about being a parent advocate and to encourage parents to be more engaged in their children’s education.

Shelley is very community minded and also volunteers with the Red Deer Public Library Board, the Red Deer Museum and Art Gallery Board, the United Way, and the Heart & Stroke Foundation. Her favourite way to volunteer is at school when there is any kind of outdoor activity going on.

Shelley is grateful to have been elected Vice President at the 2020 AGM.

Respect in School Certified

 

Director Greta Gerstner, Edmonton

“Parents truly are the experts on their children and represent such a diverse learning experience that it enhances the education system for all children.”

“Parents truly are the experts on their children and represent such a diverse learning experience that it enhances the education system for all children.”

Married for 15 years, Greta has two children aged 11 and 14, both who have been diagnosed with learning disabilities in reading, writing and math. She was a member of CASA’s Family Advisory Council and participated in a photovoice research project which told the parent’s story of parenting a child with mental health challenges. Greta is the Executive Director of Strategic Alliance for Alberta Students with Learning Challenges, which she founded five years ago to help parents of children with learning challenges to have a stronger voice.

Greta’s passion for education stems from her own children not having access to the resources they needed to learn to read and write. It is her dream that every child has what they need to reach their full potential in the public education system without having to pay privately for it - as that creates a two-tiered education system, when education is supposed to be the true equalizer.

Involved on school council for nine years in various positions, Greta attended her first ASCA AGM five years ago, and enjoys engaging with all ASCA members to ensure the parent voice is heard within the education system and considered as partners in our child’s educational journey.

Director Kerry Bodell, St. Albert

“Engaging parents in education is important to student success. Being a part of the ASCA Board allows me the opportunity to contribute to the continued success of the collective parent voice being heard in education.”

“Engaging parents in education is important to student success. Being a part of the ASCA Board allows me the opportunity to contribute to the continued success of the collective parent voice being heard in education.”

Kerry lives in St. Albert with her husband, two children aged 10 and 12, two dogs and a cat. She is an active volunteer and has held various executive positions on school council, including Chair, and the fundraising association at her children’s school since 2015. In her spare time you will find her getting crafty and creative or with her hands in the dirt tending the garden.

Kerry is a substitute Education Assistant (EA) and enjoys working with parents, students and teachers to aid in student success. Her wish is for student success through access to quality public education with a consistent parent voice that meets the diverse needs of all children.

Kerry’s journey with Alberta School Councils’ Association (ASCA) began after attending the AGM in 2019. With the help of ASCA workshops, webinars and meetings, she began updating the operations of her school council. While learning about school councils and the work of ASCA, Kerry found herself drawn to the work the association does. It is her hope that parents can be a consistent voice in education through the work of the Board.

Respect in School Certified

Director Krista Li, Calgary

“Working in concert with our school councils, board of trustees, parents provide valuable advocacy work and insight into how public education functions in the province.”

“Working in concert with our school councils, board of trustees, parents provide valuable advocacy work and insight into how public education functions in the province.”

Krista was born and raised in a small coastal community in Newfoundland and moved to Alberta in 2006 with her husband. She holds a Ph.D in Canadian history from the University of New Brunswick and taught at both the University of Alberta and Grant MacEwan University. In 2017, her family moved to Calgary where her two daughters attend Calgary Catholic School Division (CCSD) schools.

Krista runs her own small tutoring business and spends many hours volunteering both at school, and in the community with organizations including Girl Guides of Canada.

A fierce advocate for public education in Alberta, Krista believes that a strong public education system is the backbone of our province. It is her wish to see public education in Alberta celebrated, respected, and funded appropriately.

Krista’s involvement with ASCA began in 2020 when she presented a resolution on behalf of her school council. It is important for her to be involved in ASCA because the parent voice in public education is critical. She believes parents, are both the primary educators and the primary advocates for our children.

Serving as an ASCA director will allow her to elevate the parent voice in education, and the importance of the relationship between parents and a strong public education system.

Director Melissa Smith, Calgary

“Melissa recognizes that no two children are the same. Hence, her belief that a one size fits all education system cannot meet all students’ needs.”

“Melissa recognizes that no two children are the same. Hence, her belief that a one size fits all education system cannot meet all students’ needs.”

Melissa lives in Calgary with her partner, two children, and her fur babies. Following a 15-year career in Aviation, she returned to school to pursue a bachelor’s degree in child studies with a major in child and youth care counselling and a minor in psychology. Her work has primarily been with young people experiencing homelessness and addiction for various reasons, including trauma and adverse childhood experiences.

Melissa has been an active volunteer within her children’s schools and is currently the parental partnership coordinator on her younger son’s school council.

Over the past eight years, her children have attended school in three different school boards: the Calgary Catholic School Division, The Calgary Board of Education (CBE), and the Alberta public charter school system. Her oldest son attends a CBE school, and her youngest attends Foundations for the Future Charter Academy (FFCA). Given her family history of dyslexia, Melissa believed FFCA was a good choice for her son because it offers an extensive early literacy program similar to that used for learning disability remediation.

Melissa recognizes that having the ability to select schools that she considered to be the best fit for her children has given her a deep respect for parental choice and diversity in public education. She believes parents are an integral part of education, and understand the needs of their children better than anyone else.

Melissa asserts that giving parents and children diverse choices in education and a way for their voices to be heard, like that provided by school councils and ASCA, instills a sense of self-efficacy, increased school involvement, and enhanced overall sense of belonging.

Director Andi Romito, Edmonton

We need to support all the moving parts that contribute to our education system to ensure that it stays strong and supportive.

We need to support all the moving parts that contribute to our education system to ensure that it stays strong and supportive.

Andi is an Edmontonian through and through who is grateful to share her life with her partner, two kids, three dogs, a geriatric cat, and a betta named guppy. Always involved in her children’s schools, from volunteer library assistant, to occasional grant writer, Andi has been on school council executive for five years.

She firmly believes in volunteer work and has held board roles with the City of Edmonton Community Services Advisory Board, Family and Community Support Services of Alberta, her community leagues, and currently Chairs the Beaver Hills Biosphere Reserve Association. Andi has worked in not for profits her entire career, mainly in fund development, marketing, and administration roles.

A passion for education, Andi believes that education is just as important to children’s upbringing as the food they eat and the air they breathe. These years and experiences help form who they are and set them up for who they can be. Our world is changing rapidly making education more important than ever, empowering our children to flexibly succeed in a new era.

Joining the ASCA Board of Directors after passing her school council Chair role on, Andi is pleased to contribute and continue her involvement in the education community.

Director Jacqui Vanderfluit, High River

“The teachers and principal in my child’s school really promote and emphasize the important role that we, as parents and guardians, play in the success of our children’s educational experience. As a parent, I felt inspired and motivated to represent our parent voice.”

“The teachers and principal in my child’s school really promote and emphasize the important role that we, as parents and guardians, play in the success of our children’s educational experience. As a parent, I felt inspired and motivated to represent our parent voice.”

Jacqui attended the University of Calgary and graduated with a B.A. in Communications. She has been married for 12 years, has one son, and recently moved to High River where they are now enjoying the “Rurban” community vibe.

Jacqui enjoys volunteering and giving back to the community. She holds volunteer Board positions with a local music festival, the Constituency Association in Livingstone-Macleod, and a financial company in the Alberta Region. Vice Chair of Holy Spirit Academy Elementary Student Council, Jacqui is also the Fundraising Director for the school’s Fundraising Society.

Jacqui believes public education is a true blessing, as is the gift of publicly funded Catholic education. Not a right to be taken for granted, she is grateful that parents have a choice in education in Alberta.

New to the Association, Jacqui feels It is important to be involved in ASCA because she wants to be one part of a very large team of stakeholders in Alberta Education who want to work collaboratively, alongside all other Education partners, to see our students and school communities flourish.