by: Meaghan Trewin, Communications Coordinator
Mark Ramsankar is a true champion for Alberta students, teachers and school staff. Mark has worked in the field of education since 1986. Prior to his election as ATA President in 2013, he served variably as a teacher, Assistant Principal and President of the Edmonton Public Teachers Local.
Throughout his career, Mark’s focus has been concern and respect for students and student learning in the classroom, and finding creative ways to help other educators keep the same focus. In his current role, Mark is thrilled to have the opportunity to “represent and support teachers from all of Alberta’s Public schools, Catholic schools and Francophone schools. One key area of support that Mark and the ATA provide is a variety of initiatives and resources designed to help teachers foster safe, caring and inclusive spaces in their classrooms, including the longstanding Safe Spaces initiative (in partnership with Safe and Caring), the Diversity, Equity and Human Rights (DEHR) programs and the recently released PRISM Toolkit for Safe and Caring Discussions About Sexual and Gender Minorities. Research has shown that safety and mental health are key factors in students’ academic and personal success, and according to Mark, “children’s safety and mental well-being come in a variety of packages… We need to keep our eyes on the broad horizon and talk about all children’s needs.
With almost three decades of experience as an educator, Mark has seen profound developments in how teachers, administrators, parents and policy makers understand “just how complex schools and classrooms really are.” Mark is thrilled to have seen increased willingness from all stakeholders to talk about, prioritize and educate themselves on ways to support students in areas of bullying, cyberbullying, mental health, sexual and gender identity and cultural diversity. “Being able to talk about it has really helped; it’s really forcing the action that we seek.” Teachers are now better equipped than ever to identify issues, and they continue to look to organizations like the ATA and Safe and Caring for support to deal with the issues. “That’s why Safe and Caring is such an important organization, because they are a source of resources and support for teachers in these critical areas.”
Looking forward, Mark sees tremendous opportunity for educators in Alberta. With a growing population and shifting demographic, “we need to welcome these changes head on.” Policy makers and educators alike need to continue to focus their efforts on creating those safe spaces in classrooms that will allow our next generation to flourish. With all policy decisions:
“We need to ask: How does this impact the classroom? Is it directly impacting kids? Do teachers understand it and do teachers know how to implement it? That has to be in place.”
– Mark Ramsankar, President of the ATA
For teachers who are trying to create safer, more caring and more inclusive spaces in their own classrooms, Mark encourages them to keep pushing forward: “Take the risk and look for support. You need to be able to take the risks in order to support the children in your classroom, but you have to be willing to take that risk. Don’t ever hesitate to ask for support. The ATA and Safe and Caring are here to support the work you do, we have the tools, the opportunities are there.”
This article appeared in our January 2015 News Bulletin. Click here to read the rest of the bulletin!