Don Coombs gets new role

Look­ing for­ward to new re­spon­si­bil­i­ties with New­found­land and Labrador Fed­er­a­tion of School Coun­cils

The Compass - - Front page - BY CHRIS LEWIS [email protected]­n­com­pass.ca

Har­bour Grace’s Don Coombs is the new pres­i­dent of the New­found­land and Labrador Fed­er­a­tion of School Coun­cils.

As mayor of Har­bour Grace, chief devel­op­ment of­fi­cer for the Trin­ity Con­cep­tion Pla­cen­tia Health Foun­da­tion, and now pres­i­dent of the New­found­land and Labrador Fed­er­a­tion of School Coun­cils (NLFSC) – Don Coombs has a lot on his plate.

On Thurs­day, Oct. 25, it was an­nounced that Don Coombs had been ac­claimed pres­i­dent of NLFSC, along­side David Hil­lier of Grand Falls-Wind­sor, who was elected as vice-pres­i­dent of the fed­er­a­tion.

Coombs spoke with The Com­pass af­ter the an­nounce­ment on what this new role will en­tail, and how he plans to man­age this, along­side the rest of the en­deav­ours he ded­i­cates his time to:

Ques­tion: What are your re­spon­si­bil­i­ties as pres­i­dent, and what do you bring to the ta­ble for the NLFSC?

Coombs: Start­ing off in school coun­cils 20-years ago, I took over the chair­per­son­ship of St. Fran­cis school coun­cil, and 10-years ago I took over the chair­per­son­ship of Carbonear Col­le­giate school coun­cil. I got ap­proached about four years ago to put my name for­ward (for pres­i­dency of the fed­er­a­tion), and I said no – I just wasn’t ready for that.

Later, I got ap­proached again, and af­ter giv­ing it some thought, I re­al­ized we’ve got so many things go­ing on in our schools – the bul­ly­ing, the bussing, the lack of re­sources, we all know what the sto­ries are. I truly felt that the NLFSC should rep­re­sent ev­ery par­ent and ev­ery child, and I don’t think we’re strong enough as a body.

We should be hav­ing a ma­jor, ma­jor voice in de­ci­sions re­lat­ing to those things, plus a whole lot more. I see me of­fer­ing a lead­er­ship role, mov­ing us along as an or­ga­ni­za­tion to be­com­ing a ma­jor player in there with govern­ment in terms of ed­u­ca­tion. We rep­re­sent a lot of peo­ple in this province – par­ents, chil­dren, care­givers – so I’d like to see things move for­ward for us.

Ques­tion: What are some of your top pri­or­i­ties, and things you hope to ad­dress, as pres­i­dent?

Coombs: One of my pri­mary con­cerns is how we go about get­ting more schools in­volved … I see low par­tic­i­pa­tion, low reg­is­tra­tion, and I see that as a prob­lem. I think I can lead the way to get those num­bers up, and get the school coun­cils vot­ing on is­sues to­gether, and I think we can make that change.

We’re one of the few or­ga­ni­za­tions that rep­re­sent these big of num­bers, and we should have a ma­jor voice on ev­ery is­sue within schools in the province.

Bul­ly­ing is a big one too, of course. We’ve got to find out how to deal with that, and to be hon­est, it’s never go­ing to be 100 per cent fixed – but it’s im­por­tant that we ad­dress it how­ever we can.

I think some schools have a real lack of re­sources, a lack of fund­ing, and teacher al­lo­ca­tions are not good. Those are the is­sues, right now, that peo­ple are talk­ing about. I just think that ev­ery child in the province should have equal op­por­tu­ni­ties in ed­u­ca­tion.

Ques­tion: How do you plan to bal­ance these new re­spon­si­bil­i­ties on top of your roles as mayor of Har­bour Grace and chief devel­op­ment of­fi­cer for the Trin­ity Con­cep­tion Health Foun­da­tion? Are there any spe­cific chal­lenges you’re an­tic­i­pat­ing?

Coombs: Well, most im­por­tantly, I’ve got a great wife who sup­ports me, and al­ways did. From the early days, she’s al­ways known that these things are a part of my life too.

I’ve got no toys – no ski­doos, or quads, or any­thing like that. My life re­volves around or­ga­ni­za­tions, and be­ing able to help in a pos­i­tive, pro­fes­sional man­ner.

We can all make a dif­fer­ence, and if we can make a dif­fer­ence in the school sys­tem, then that’s just an­other step for me.

I’m busy be­cause I want to be busy – my job? I have the best job in the world, and I deal with pos­i­tives ev­ery day. My time goes to­ward the bet­ter­ment of the com­mu­nity. I’m not go­ing to be here for­ever, but if I can make a dif­fer­ence, then that’s all I want.”

FILE PHOTO

Don Coombs wears a mul­ti­tude of dif­fer­ent hats on a daily ba­sis as mayor of Har­bour Grace, chief devel­op­ment of­fi­cer for the Trin­ity Con­cep­tion Pla­cen­tia Health Foun­da­tion, and now pres­i­dent of the New­found­land and Labrador Fed­er­a­tion of School Coun­cils.

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