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, daughter, 16 and son, 12. 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 Jacquie Surgenor Gaglione, Sherwood Park

It can be easy to forget about parents and what they can contribute to education and I wanted to work with an organization whose mission is to ensure the strength of that collective parent voice.

It can be easy to forget about parents and what they can contribute to education and I wanted to work with an organization whose mission is to ensure the strength of that collective parent voice.

Jacquie’s passion for education first led her to a teaching career, however, after her children started elementary school, her focus shifted to the important role parents play in their children’s education.

She has chaired the Elk Island Public Schools (EIPS) Committee of School Councils (COSC), as well as serving as executive on local School Councils. She has also served on a variety of EIPS district committees including a parental engagement framework for the 3-Year Education plan and the elementary Communicating Student Learning committee. Jacquie lives in Sherwood Park and has three children aged 17, 14 and 11.

Respect in School Certified

 

Director Hollie Tarasewich, Lethbridge

I believe every child has the right to a fair and equitable education in an environment that is safe, welcoming and respectful. As a parent, it is my responsibility to be the voice for those that cannot or will not speak.

I believe every child has the right to a fair and equitable education in an environment that is safe, welcoming and respectful. As a parent, it is my responsibility to be the voice for those that cannot or will not speak.

Hollie is originally from BC, but disappointed with public education in that province, moved to Lethbridge in 2012 with her husband Darin, and her two children, a son and daughter.

Involved with school councils for 12 years, Hollie has held every position there is. She was the District Parent Advisory Council Vice President and President for many years, a Director and Vice President for BCCPAC and involved on various district level committees. Hollie was a Ski Patroller for 10 years, as well as a first aid instructor and zone examiner.

Pleased to have been elected at her first ASCA AGM in 2016, Hollie believes that if she can in any way, lift up or give strength and support, and empower other parents to share and use their passion for a better public education system, then she will have done right by those that elected her.

Director Richard Haggarty, Spruce Grove

“I believe it is important as parents that we have a say in the direction of our children's education. It is vital as stakeholders, that we have a seat at the table and ability to influence decisions that can affect all students.”

“I believe it is important as parents that we have a say in the direction of our children's education. It is vital as stakeholders, that we have a seat at the table and ability to influence decisions that can affect all students.”

Richard lives in Spruce Grove with his two children and wife Christy, a Grade nine teacher, who inspires his passion for education. Recently retired from the Canadian Armed Forces after 30 years of service, Richard is in his second year at NAIT enrolled in the Disaster and Emergency Management Program.

An appreciation for the value of great education, Rich’s journey into the work of school council began with a raise of his hand to help out, and he has not looked back since. He has spent the last four years working with school councils and parents at both the school level and division level. Rich enjoys being part of a team to effect change in the school system and feels the true reward is found on the smiling faces of students.

Director Krista Scott, Sherwood Park

“Involvement with ASCA means working in partnership to provide the best possible education for Alberta students."

“Involvement with ASCA means working in partnership to provide the best possible education for Alberta students."

Krista lives in Sherwood Park, has been married for 22 years and has four children aged 12 to 19. With a background in Education, she taught Kindergarten and developed programming for children with Autism, before she became a stay at home mom.

Active on school council since 2006, Krista has held chair and vice chair positions, as well as a representative on the division wide committee of school councils. She has attended the ASCA conference and AGM for eight years, and received the ASCA Parent of Distinction Award in 2019.

Krista values the voice of parents contributing to a strong public education system through school councils, and she looks forward to participating in governance and advocacy at the provincial level.

Respect in School Certified

Director Sheila Hobday, Calgary

I want to see empowered school councils in our province with the capacity and skills to advocate for their students at the school, division and provincial levels.

I want to see empowered school councils in our province with the capacity and skills to advocate for their students at the school, division and provincial levels.

A lifelong Calgarian, Sheila is a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA), married, with two children aged 11 and 8. Sheila volunteers with Social Venture Partners Calgary, a not-for-profit organization that connects the skills of its members to work with not-for-profits focused in building resilience of at-risk youth between the ages of 12-15.

Sheila has worked on school councils for the past six years, holding executive positions for both the school council and the Fundraising Society. She regularly attends the CBE COSC meetings and appreciates the opportunity to understand and contribute at a school board level.

Attending a number of ASCA workshops over the past five years to build skills and capacity of school councils, Sheila was drawn to the Board work of ASCA for the opportunity to see education at a provincial level and utilize her passion and skills to make a difference.

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.

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.