The new president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of School Councils says being a teenager won't take away his credibility when he's talking to education officials and politicians.

"I'm not bringing it [the issues] as 'I'm a 19-year-old, here are the issues I'm seeing,'" said Nathan Whalen, 19, of St. John's.

"I'm bringing it as these are the issues that we're seeing in our membership."

The group, which acts as a voice for parents, community volunteers, and school councils on education issues in Newfoundland and Labrador, elected Whalen as its president this past weekend at its annual general meeting in Corner Brook.

Just finished second-year university

Whalen, who just finished his second year of studying business at Memorial University, was already the president of the school council at Bishops College, his high school alma mater in St. John's, and has served on that council for four years.  He has been a busy community volunteer since he was in grade five, and also works at the TD Bank.

Whalen acknowledged that most school council members tend to be parents or older community members, but he said he sees school councils as being a place for people of all ages and backgrounds.

"As a community-minded person, I recognize that education is definitely the stepping stone for greater things and creating strong citizens."

Federation worried about education cuts

Whalen said the federation is currently focused on the impacts that cuts to administrators, specialists, and classroom teachers are having in the province's schools.

He admitted to being "wary" of the province's plan to reduce the number of school boards for English-speaking schools in the province from four to one, but he said he trusted the province's department of education to make those changes while minimizing the impact of those changes in the classroom.

Whalen said his first act as president of the school council federation has been to request a meeting with Clyde Jackman, Newfoundland and Labrador's education minister, to tell Jackman about the issues that are concerning the members of his group.