It only takes one parent
by Alan Zisman
(c) 2001. First
published in Vancouver Computes,
Hillary Clinton has suggested that it takes a village
to raise a child.
In some cases, it only takes one parent to raise a school?at least, to
raise a school?s use of computer technology.
Take East Vancouver parent, Conrad Lew, for example.
Lew has two elementary-school
aged children, currently attending Vancouver?s Hastings Elementary, an
inner-city school not far from the PNE. He first decided to become
with their school when his eldest daughter was in Grade 2 at Tillicum
Hasting?s K-4 annex.
He noticed that while there were computers in
they were old, and didn?t seem to be used much. Lew checked with the
and was told that they weren?t very comfortable with the mix of old
and besides, there wasn?t much in the way of software.
Lew went to Tillicum?s Parent?s Advisory Committee.
Parents asked around,
and were able to get an offer of a donation of newer old computer from
local advertising firm Bryant, Fulton, and Shee. Checking around the
Lew made contact with local computer retailer, Nantron Systems, who
to donate the labour to upgrade these systems, if the PAC raised funds
to pay for parts.
Recognizing the need for staff training, the PAC paid
to send one of
Tillicum?s teachers to a conference on the educational use of
Her enthusiasm when she returned was contagious, infecting her
Now, the cluster of computers in Tillicum?s library is a focus of
As Lew?s children moved over to the main school, his
focus shifted as
well. Once again, he worked together with the school administration and
teachers, and the Parent?s Advisory Committee. Problems with their
computer systems had produced frustration at Hastings; once again, Lew
worked with the school to take stock of what they had and where they
PAC donations of computers for the library were
matched with school
funds, and recently, additional computers were donated by the City of
The school has added Internet access for students in portable
And using a server built by Nantron Systems, the school is
with Windows 2000 Advanced Server terminal services. This will allow
to use the server to run modern software on older systems. Lew suggests
that Hastings is now near the point where technology will be
throughout the school.
Lew has expanded his interests beyond computers in
schools. He realized
that technology is a tool for helping to build student literacy, and
become interested in broader issues of literacy., and how student
is affected by the atmosphere at home.
The result has been to work with the family literacy
program at Kiwassa
Neighbourhood House, open to all family members, not just school-age
Recently, Lew was appointed as a parent member to the Vancouver School
Board?s Family Literacy Steering Committee.
Having grown up in Vancouver?s East Side, Lew
understands that it isn?t
always easy for parents to get involved with their children?s school.
well, he knows that when he was younger, he was more interested in
his career than in connecting with his community. He points out that
wanting to give something back can start by getting involved in
projects that don?t need to become too intense or demanding.