Our Members

CUPE’s B. C. K-12 Presidents’ Council  brings together 55 locals to coordinate provincial bargaining priorities and strategy and raise the profile of the work that CUPE members perform in support of public education.

Aboriginal Support Worker

A profile of one of our fine members is on its way.

Bus Driver

Lynda H. 

CUPE 847, John Allison Elementary K-3 School 

Head Custodian and Bus Driver, 30 years 

I really love the kids, especially the young ones. With that age group you just never know what they’ll say next! I feel so fortunate that, even though I’ve been doing this job for almost 30 years, I still enjoy it.  

Over the years I’ve learned different ways to work with students when they get a little bit rambunctious. I have my older kids sit at the back, with the younger ones up front. The older kids help set an example for good behaviour. Regular kids who are on the bus route for the furthest distance are especially good because they bond with you. Over the years I’ve learned that yelling doesn’t always work. Sometimes it’s better for the bus driver to stop the bus if you can, go back, make eye contact and talk to students in a calm voice. 

If I could change something to improve the job it would be to have more time to do the work. It seems like the more you do, the more is expected. I wouldn’t mind that as long as there was enough time. We’re spread pretty thin in lots of areas. 

As a bus driver, I’ve had special needs children as passengers over the years. We used to have Education Assistants ride with us. I thought it was very unfortunate when they took EAs off of the buses for special needs students. It wasn’t good for the students, or the driver either. Because you sometimes have a lot of kids on the bus, you just can’t be available to help those special needs students while you’re driving. 

But all in all, working in K-12 a great job. If you love kids, you just can’t beat it. 


A profile of one of our fine members is on its way.


Melinda J.

CUPE 606, Ladysmith Secondary School

Caretaker, 23 years

I’ve been working with the school district for 23 years, and it’s a reflection of you. So, if you can’t get your work done and people come in and they look around at the garbage cans – or see that you haven’t been able to get to that wall where there’s a smashed apple –you see it. But because you’ve been doing a, b, and c, you haven’t been able to get to it. And people may think that you’re not doing your job. That brings morale down a little bit because it feels like you’re not able to do what you take pride in doing.

When you can’t give the best that you want to give, that wears on you. When you don’t cut the corners and you do those little extras, we tend to hurt ourselves. We overdo it and even though we have our sick time, we still feel guilty when we take time off. It wears and tears on the body and on the mind when we can’t get our work done.  All the cuts have been really hard on us.

You don’t want to let the kids down.  Our kids all go to these schools, people’s grandkids go to these schools. You see these little beings and you want to do the best for them. How can we do our best? When you aren’t able to do your best, you definitely take it personally, wishing I could do this, this, and this. Without proper funding there’s not much we can do about that.  We just keep trying to do our best. Trying to keep our morale up around here.

Education Assistant

Karen R.

CUPE 401, Alert Bay Elementary School

Education Assistant, Noon Hour Supervisor; After School Sports and Arts Worker

 I’ve worked off and on for the district for 20 years. It’s satisfying to work with children and steer them to get help. Math is one of my strengths and I enjoy working with kids on math, encouraging them to read and to ask for help. That’s why we are here.

Our school is part of the After School Sports and Arts Initiative so we encourage our children to eat healthy and get lots of exercise. We are getting water fountains where students can refill water bottles because we promote healthy eating, and drinking water is part of that.

We don’t keep our kids inside unless it’s very, very drastic out there. Otherwise they are out in all weather. We try not to keep them in so that they get fresh air, exercise and interaction.

A lot of kids have never skateboarded, so we take them out skateboarding. We try to branch out and we ask the kids what they want to see. We are in the process of getting a wide, not high, climbing wall.

Last year we brought in a musical for our whole school, this year we are bringing in gymnastics.  It’s available to our after-school program, but when we do things like that it becomes available to our whole school.

Our community is really close-knit. Everybody knows what’s going on with our kids. If we see something that’s bothering them, we don’t walk away because it’s not our child.  They’re all our children. Every child is important.

I do this job because of my son who fell through the cracks in school. He committed suicide at age 24. He had been labelled “dumb” and “stupid” and it wasn’t until he was tested in grade 11 that he was classified as being severely learning disabled. It took 12 years. That’s why this job is so important to me. I don’t want any kids fall through the cracks.

 V. Lynne M. 

CUPE 847, Merritt Secondary School 

Education Assistant, 15 years 

 I think it’s very important to be inclusive of special education children. It’s valuable because other children have the chance to see what’s going on in other people’s lives. It provides balance. 

I like the kids and I like being involved in my community. You get to know these kids and it’s our community, so it feels good to go home at the end of the day knowing you’ve given it your all. You can see the successes and you know these families and the kids are worth it. You put your passion into the work because of the students. It’s not just a job. 

As an EA, you see kids in a different light because you’re in close contact with them, sometimes for 5-6 hours a day. You get to know them intimately and you care about them. It can be emotional letting those kids go home and knowing that their world might not be as lovely as the other children. 

I would like a better mentorship program with new EAs starting their careers, so that we can pass on information and knowledge. Many people doing this job are going to retire and there will be a missed learning opportunity for new EAs. 

This is our community, we should give a damn about what goes on and what is happening in our schools. It’s pretty great when you can see students who have graduated, and they are going to go on to contribute to our community. We need to keep those things in focus because it is worth it. The community is worth it. 

Strong Start

A profile of one of our fine members is on its way.

Trades and Grounds

Charlie S. 

CUPE 847, School Board Office 

Mechanic, 2 years 

I repair all the maintenance vehicles and the buses for School District 58. During the winter I remove snow from the sidewalks and emergency exits at one of our elementary schools. I also drive school bus once in a blue moon. 

I like working with the drivers and also making sure everything is safe for the kids to get to school and back home safely.  

I’ve been a mechanic all my life and have been with the school district for two years. The biggest challenge of my job is usually during the winter when its 30 below and buses don’t want to start. 

It’s always fun to get the reaction of the kids when you do a bus run. I’ve had one kindergarten kid call me the bearded bus driver. It’s fun to watch the reactions from the kids. I really enjoy them, it’s a good time. 

…and More

Profiles on some of our fine members are on their way.