Curtis Bendig announced last week that he will stand for election as a school board trustee in Nelson this fall.
“My daughter Mila will graduate high school in 2032 and it’s important her generation has a strong, vibrant and resilient education system,” said the 29-year-old new father.
He said if you compare the education system that was present during his schooling to that of his parents and grandparents, the differences would be “astounding”. He expects a similarly huge transformation to occur over the next three decades, and he wants to be a part of it.
“School boards need to be open to that change and flexible, open to innovation,” he said. “A fresh perspective is exactly what I’m hoping to bring. Nelson has the youngest demographic in the Columbia Basin and that certainly hasn’t been reflected in who we sent to represent us on the school board in the last decade.”
Bendig currently works as Nelson-Creston MLA Michelle Mungall’s constituency assistant. He said the role has prepared him well for his potential future on the school board.
“The think the roles are quite complimentary. My main job right now is answering the phone and listening to concerns people are bringing to the MLA. A lot of those things had to do with education, particularly this fall,” he said, referring to the teachers’ strike that currently reached a close.
“Having an understanding of how the provincial systems work, how agencies work together, especially in an area as complex as education, is a huge asset,” he said.
“I want to be at the board table to ensure that responsible, sustainable decisions are being made to strengthen public education now and for the coming decades.”
Bendig said he wants to encourage innovation in the school system.
“The four walls and a chalkboard style of teaching is not necessarily what works best. The school system needs to be open to new ideas, and needs to expand alternative programs they already have,” he said.
Bendig hopes the community will become more engaging during this election.
“Most people I’ve talked to under 40 doesn’t know who their school board trustees are or what they do. That’s a huge thing that needs to be addressed. Our school board could be doing a much better job of widening the conversation.”
Bendig holds a bachelor degree in education and has taught both in Canada and Asia. He currently works in MLA Michelle Mungall’s community office. He has been active on a number of boards and committees including the Columbia Basin Trust’s Youth Advisory Committee and the Kootenay Carshare Co-op.
Bendig ran unsuccessfully for school trustee in 2011.