By Sean Delaney
Toronto District School Board trustee Christopher Mammoliti was recently elected as Humber River -Black Creek’s first vice chair of the TDSB. After congratulating him on the honour, the Emery Village Voice sat down with him, and asked him to reflect on the year that was.
CM: As far as the school year itself, it has been wild to say the least. This year has definitely been the year of vaccine rollouts, something for me as a trustee I will remember for the rest of my life.
We had an opportunity to create incredible partnerships with organizations like Black Creek Community Health, the United Health Network, the TCDSB, Toronto Public Health and more. In the beginning of April, I was upset with the lack of equity being applied to vaccine clinics and rollouts, and we began working with local bodies to get into communities and accelerate our vaccination rates. Once we got our hands on things, we were able to not only distribute vaccines, but set an example for the rest of the city in making these partnerships. We even began to get asked for advice for the rest of the city because our team was working so well together, and our vaccine rollout was so effective. These are elements our community should be proud of. They’re not necessarily the stories you here all the time, but are the reality of how it’s working.
EVV: Tell us about how the year has challenged you?
CM: One of the challenges at the school board has been trying to create and execute a plan in a pandemic. You’re in vacuum. There is not really much guidance, so you’re working as a team under that pressure, and the reality of the stresses of the pandemic itself. Coming to work everyday, putting in that commitment, people were tremendous.
One thing we definitely didn’t want to lose was community, parent and guardian engagement. So we have to make sure we continue to hear from our community. We held many community meetings and information sessions to ensure the community is not only hearing from us but could bring forward concerns to the table.
EVV: What has the pandemic meant for your duties as a trustee?
CM: It changed it from part-time to full-time. I would say the truth is in order to do the job effectively, it is a full time job. The work and effort put in has been absolutely incredible. You cannot do this job by just checking in for five hours. To do the roles you are elected to do, you have to put in the time.
EVV: Can you talk about your concerns for the new year?
CM: We have to continually be on our toes. We have set our system up so we are ready to pivot if we need too. Omicron has snuck up on everyone and made it a challenge, but we are ready.
I think one of the big pieces, Omicron presents a challenge, but we’ve been planning to prepare for these types of challenges. The effort this past year at the school board level has been what has given us the ability to cope. One of the underlying messages I’ve learned as a trustee is the virtual environment is not effective for the vast majority of our students. Students have lost out on education over the last year and a half, and we have to recognize the damage the virtual environment does. Technology isn‘t flawless. Without in-person, instruction can be challenging. The internet can go down, some people may not have the right equipment, and some may be subject to high subscription services, bills. We have to be aware of these during the pandemic, keep doing the work, and be prepared for whatever may come.
EVV: Do you have a message to the readers heading into 2022?
CM: For me, thank you very much for your support, the opportunity to be able to speak for our community at the school board level, and for your patience and diligence during the entire pandemic. We support each other as a community, I know we always will, and I couldn’t be more proud to represent Humber River - Black Creek.