Susan Artymko looking forward to position as RCCDSB trustee

Barry’s Bay – Susan Artymko likes new challenges and is facing a new one, as well as a new way of giving back to the community in her role as trustee for the Renfrew County Catholic District School Board.

“I’m excited about this,” she said. “I like challenging myself and I do have the time I can dedicate to this.”

She was elected last week to represent the three townships of Madawaska Valley, Killaloe, Hagarty and Richards and Brudenell, Lyndoch and Raglan.

The CEO/Head Librarian at the Bonnechere Union Public Library in Eganville, she was in full Halloween swing on Monday when the Leader popped in for an interview. Dressed as a scarecrow for Halloween, she noted she enjoys being creative and has been a long-time volunteer in many capacities since coming to the Madawaska Valley almost three decades ago.

When she was approached by Alanna Hermans, a teacher in the system, about running for the school board, Mrs. Artymko began considering this as something she would enjoy and be able to contribute through.

“I like being part of the process,” she said. “Before I started working, I volunteered a lot.”

With experience on the Madawaska Valley Public Library board as well as the Madawaska Valley Horticultural Society, she thinks this will be an asset to her new role.

A Catholic, her two daughters attended St. John Bosco and she volunteered in the school while they were there.

“My husband is also a teacher with the board but that is not considered a conflict,” she noted.

Their daughters are now in their 20s and independent, so she feels she has the time and experience to contribute as a trustee. She is looking forward to learning more about her role in the coming months and although she acknowledges there are some things the trustees cannot control, they can make a difference in many areas.

“I have no control over the curriculum,” she said.

However, she is very outspoken about her belief trustees have a role to play and she believes there should be a return to normalcy for students after several years of disruption during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I feel strongly after the last two or three years of unrest that children need to be in school with their classmates,” she said.

Having children be able to socialize with all their peers and not just be in a group of cohorts is vital, she said. As well, being able to participate in a variety of events is important, Mrs. Artymko said.

“I like to see the return to sports and extra-curriculars,” she said.

“I don’t want to see a return to mandatory masking,” she added. “I think it did more harm than good.”

Mrs. Artymko is looking forward to being part of the process in making the schools in the RCCDSB a great place to learn.

“I am hoping my experience with public libraries can give me some insight,” she added.

Busy with her job in Eganville, she also has a lot of hobbies she enjoys.

“I play bassoon in the Pembroke Symphony Orchestra,” she noted.

As well, she likes to hike, sew, crochet and do crafts.

“And I ride a motorcycle for fun,” she said.

Since moving to Barry’s Bay 28 years ago she has embraced rural life.

“I love the small towns and the Madawaska Valley,” she said.

Mrs. Artymko has a degree from the University of Toronto and a Master of Library and Information Science from Western.

She easily was elected to the position with 1,122 votes. Her opponents, Mervin Paul Merkowsky and Rose Noonan polled 367 and 321 votes, respectively. Mrs. Artymko fills the position left vacant as a result of the passing of long-time trustee Marlene Gutoskie in January 2021.

Debbi Christinck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader