Announcements, People

Larsen elected to Thames Valley District School Board

November 21, 2022

Marianne Larsen (submitted photo).

Retired education professor, Marianne Larsen, has thought about moving into politics for about 10 years.

Now, her idea became reality with her recent election as a Thames Valley District School Board (TVDSB) trustee.

She will represent Wards 2-6 in the City of London.

“It’s interesting moving from being an academic into a political position,” Larsen said. “There will be a lot to learn, but I’m super excited about it.”

Larsen jumped into politics for several reasons. First, she believes public education plays an important role in fostering democracy and creating civil society.

“At the heart of a caring, engaged society are our schools,” she said.

Second, she wants to help create the best schools for students, families, and teachers. In particular, school safety, addressing post-COVID learning gaps and equity, diversity, inclusion and reconciliation are important for Larsen.

“There’s good work the board has done, and I would like to be a part of that work,” she said.

In addition, she wants schools to be environmental leaders with a focus on active transportation. This is where students use non-motorized transportation, such as bicycling, walking or using scooters, to get to school. Besides protecting the environment, it also helps improve students’ mental and physical health, Larsen said.

Finally, teacher workload is also a concern. She said there aren’t enough supply teachers to cover teacher absences. Her goal is to work with faculties of education to get teachers trained and into classrooms more quickly.

Larsen credits education colleagues Bill Tucker, a former director of education, and Peter Jaffe, a former Academic Director for the Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women and Children, for their support. Both endorsed Larsen during the election campaign. Jaffe, a long-time trustee for Wards 2-6, also provided valuable campaign advice, such as the importance of name recognition in local elections.

To help with name recognition, Larsen dropped 7,000 pieces of campaign literature into people’s mailboxes. In addition, she also posted her platform on social media and family and friends helped to put up campaign signs across wards 2-6.

While meeting constituents, she discovered issues that concerned voters varied greatly, depending on the ward. A significant challenge for Larsen was the geographic distance her electoral district covered with Wards 2-6 spanning the far eastern boundary of the city, north of Sunningdale, west along Wonderland and south near the train tracks.

Larsen was a high school teacher for 13 years in Ontario, the U.S., and the United Kingdom. She’s also spent 15 years as a professor at the Faculty of Education. In her spare time, she’s volunteered at the TVDSB as a school council co-chair and Thames Valley Parent Involvement Committee representative. She’s also been an English as a Second Language mentor at the London Public Library and has volunteered with Circle Bridges out of Poverty, BGC London tutoring program, Climate Action London, and she is the President of the Johansen Larsen Foundation.