Being Thankful

Blog photo October 2018

Things I’m thankful for as we head into Thanksgiving…

The on-going opportunities I have to connect with both Grand Erie staff and community members to discuss the great things happening daily in our schools to support our Multi-Year Plan, Success for Every Student.

The dedicated staff across our board who are committed to their work, our students and their communities.

The support of our Trustees and Senior Administration in the start-up of a new school year. We celebrate big and small successes and always work through challenges.

The ability to give back to our community through participation in fundraising and food drives.

The great outdoors and the opportunity to walk, hike and run for my own personal wellness.

The change of the seasons and the beauty all around us with the colours of autumn.

My family and friends who listen to me, ground me, and support me. They remind me, especially at this time of the year, to take time for myself and encourage me to pursue those things that make me happy and feel fulfilled.

As we celebrate Thanksgiving this weekend, I hope all of you take some time to think about the things and people that you’re thankful for. I also hope you have an opportunity this long weekend to connect with those who are special to you and that you get a chance to do some of the things that make you feel happy, relaxed and fulfilled.

Happy Thanksgiving.

 

 

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Health and Physical Education Curriculum

We are in the midst of our summer break. I don’t normally blog during this time as I believe it should be a period of refresh and relaxation for our Grand Erie students and staff. However, given the recent developments from the Ministry of Education regarding the Health and Physical Education curriculum, I felt it was important to comment on what’s happening.

At this time, we don’t have a lot of details from the Ministry, other than change is coming. As we await next steps, I want to assure our community that Grand Erie is fully committed to the well-being and achievement of all of our students by providing sound instruction and a learning environment that aligns with the realities of the world in which we live.

Grand Erie is fiercely committed to the ideals of equity and inclusion for all students and staff. This is why Equity is a key indicator in our Multi-Year Plan and its focus on Success for Every Student. It is why we promote diversity and lived experiences in our classrooms, why we celebrate our differences, and why we embrace events and activities that promote acceptance, safety and a sense of belonging.

When the revised Health and Physical Education curriculum was released in 2015, I was a vocal advocate of the changes that I saw as they reflected the reality for our students around inclusion, the internet and social media.

I feel passionately about equity and inclusion in our schools, as do all of our Trustees. As we await further details from the Ministry of Education regarding the Health and Physical Education curriculum, we will not lose sight of our commitment to Equity at Grand Erie and our promotion of practices that help students, families and staff feel safe, welcomed and included in our schools. As a board, we will also do everything we can to be part of any consultation on the Health and Physical Education curriculum moving forward.

Finally, I know that our Grand Erie staff will continue to create safe and accepting environments for all students as we focus on our goal of Success for Every Student.

 

 

Last Day of School

This year, on the final day of school before the summer, the entire Senior Administration team and members of our Communications and Community Relations team, took to the road to visit many of our schools in order to thank staff for all the hard work they put in throughout 2017-18 to support our students and families. We used the hashtag #ThankyouGEDSB to document our travels.

This was so much more than a social media event… it was our opportunity to honour the contributions all of our staff make in ensuring Success for Every Student. Grand Erie’s Multi-Year Plan is built on six indicators (Achievement, Community, Environment, Equity, Technology and Well-Being). We know it is the staff at each of our Grand Erie schools who live these indicators every day that make our Multi-Year Plan a success for all of our students.

Our visits also allowed us to wish staff and students a safe and happy summer, to give a final farewell to some of our retiring staff, and to help some of our staff say a bittersweet goodbye to a school that’s closing or a colleague who’s leaving.

While we weren’t able to visit every school, we did cover all areas within the Board and we look forward to visiting even more schools in the future. If your school or site wasn’t part of our travels today, please know that you are very much a key part of #ThankyouGEDSB. Your hard work during this school year is much appreciated and we honour everything you’ve done for our students in 2017-18.

I also want to thank our students, staff, their families and all of our greater school communities for their ongoing support this year. You make Grand Erie a great place to learn and work!

I wish all of you a wonderful summer. I also look forward to another exciting year in Grand Erie when we return for 2018-19 in September.

Holiday Message

GEDSB Merry Christmas 2017

As we enter the holiday break, I find myself thinking a lot about the importance of community connections. Here in Grand Erie, we are a community made up of many other communities. This is what makes us who we are and what guides us to foster and celebrate inclusive school communities to enhance everyone’s learning experiences and ensure Success for Every Student.

Grand Erie is a community of schools. In these unique school communities, we’ve had a busy fall. We welcomed our new Kindergarten students, and supported our new Grade 9 students as they transitioned into secondary school. Our fall sports schedules got underway as soon as students came back to school in September. Clubs started up, and many school events took place. As we moved through October and November, there were fall fairs, graduations, awards assemblies, and concerts. We held a ground-breaking ceremony for the new elementary school currently being built in Dunnville, and we celebrated our new four classroom addition at Thompson Creek Elementary School. This new space provides extra room to bring two school communities together as one, after Anna Melick Memorial School closed last June. We also held a wide range of parent events to engage them in the learning of their children.

As a system-wide community, we held Remembrance Day events to honour those who have served and continue to serve our country. We took part in Treaties Recognition Week, and we came together to show our support for Orange Shirt day in the spirit of reconciliation. As we entered the holiday season, across our community, we gave back through toy and clothing drives, donations to local food banks and by supporting local families in need. It’s truly inspirational to witness the spirit of giving in our schools and all of our board sites.

To support our community of families, we hosted the School Council Start-up Session in October and we welcomed back our Grand Erie Parent Involvement Committee (GEPIC) with new members and a new Chair. They continue to do great work in supporting school councils across our system.

As a community of staff, we continue to come together for professional learning to support our own development and that of our students. We participated in United Way fundraisers to support the community agencies that support our students and families. We also participated in staff wellness events and student activities.

Our Board of Trustees is also a community. Once again, this fall was busy in the Board Room. Trustees attended events across the system to show their support and to participate in activities along with staff and students. Earlier this month, the annual Board Nomination Meeting was held. We congratulate Trustee Greg Anderson who was elected as our Board Chair for 2018, and we welcome Tom Waldschmidt to the position of Board Vice-Chair.

Recently, we posted the Director’s Annual Report which provides an overview of 2016-17. It’s a great reflection on the year that was and highlights stories from our many communities that make up Grand Erie. I encourage everyone to take a look at the report on our website at granderie.ca.

I would encourage all of you to reflect on the communities that impact your life and in this season of giving, how you contribute to those communities. I wish all of our Grand Erie staff and communities a wonderful holiday filled with the peace and warmth of the season.

 

 

 

Inspired and Thankful

HappyThanksgivingAs we enter Thanksgiving weekend, I am reflecting on the many ways that we as a school board value and promote equity and inclusion. I am inspired by our collective efforts and that makes me feel very thankful.

Events like the Terry Fox Run, Orange Shirt Day or our upcoming Accessibility Awareness Day demonstrate Grand Erie’s commitment to equity and inclusion and showcase the incredible work of our students and staff.

The Terry Fox Runs that took place across our schools at the end of September continue the legacy of Terry Fox and his Marathon of Hope to raise money for cancer research. Beyond the fundraising, the Terry Fox Run promotes the important traits of courage, humility, responsibility, perseverance, determination and empathy to our students.

Many Grand Erie schools and sites celebrated Orange Shirt Day on September 29 to commemorate Phyllis’ story of having her shiny new orange shirt taken away from her on her first day at a residential school. Participation in Orange Shirt Day is an opportunity for all of us to come together in the spirt of reconciliation and hope, acknowledging that Every Child Matters.

On November 24, Grand Erie will once again hold an Accessibility Awareness Day. As a community, we recognize that accessibility is a key component of well-being. We also understand the importance of building awareness and respect for individuals with disabilities. On this day, schools will be encouraged to reflect on issues faced by those within their community and to recognize negative attitudes or beliefs about disability.

Thanksgiving is also an ideal time to consider those who may not be as fortunate as us, or those who do not have the same opportunities that we enjoy.

One way we are helping to support the broader Grand Erie community is through the annual United Way campaign at our schools and board offices. We know that one in three people will be helped by United Way-funded programs this year. These programs support the most vulnerable people in our communities, many of whom live below the poverty line, including families, seniors, individuals and children. The United Way invests in programs that are guaranteed to change lives, which helps to build a better and stronger community.

Once again, I am challenging the entire Grand Erie District School Board community to ensure 100% participation in the United Way – by this, I mean that we will see donations coming from all of our schools and board office sites. I ask staff to join me in contributing to the great work that the United Way does to support many local community agencies.

This long weekend, I look forward to enjoying the great outdoors and some wonderful fall weather. As always, being with family and friends to catch up, relax and count the blessings that we have is something I truly value and always look forward to. I also value our Grand Erie community and the great efforts being put forth daily by staff to support and achieve our goal of Success for Every Student.

To all of you, I send the warmest of wishes for a great Thanksgiving weekend spent enjoying time with those close to you. I also hope you take time to reflect on all that you are thankful for. Happy Thanksgiving!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome Back – Here we Go . . .

Welcome back Grand Erie MYP-Infographicstudents and staff, and best wishes for a wonderful start to the 2017-18 school year. 

 I hope that you have all had a great summer and are ready to enter this new year with lots of energy and enthusiasm to help you set and meet your goals.

 Our schools and support centres are ready for you.  There has been a great deal of work completed over the summer by our Facilities staff to ensure that our schools are well-maintained, clean and ready to go. The first day of school is a new beginning for all of us, as we get back into our routines and prepare for new opportunities.

 My welcome back message this school year focuses on the theme of high expectations and continuous improvement.

Our Grand Erie Multi-Year Plan states that we will support our goal of Success for Every Student in a culture of high expectations. It’s important that we all have a shared understanding of what this means. We have high expectations for all of our schools, our sites and our service areas. Our focus is on effective instruction, effective leadership and effective conditions for learning and engagement. 

At the core of our plan is Success for Every Student, but it’s important to note that all staff support this goal through work at one of our schools, one of our support centres, or through one of our many service departments. Your work, as staff, helps us achieve our goal through the six indicator areas of the Multi-Year Plan.

 As we enter our second year of the Multi-Year Plan, we will work hard to ensure continuous improvement in our six indicator areas: Achievement, Well-Being, Equity, Environment, Technology and Community. This past spring, we engaged in a monitoring activity to measure awareness and understanding of our Multi-Year Plan amongst our various employee groups. We learned a great deal from this activity, and are actively working on plans to continue to build awareness of the Multi-Year Plan and connections to it for all of our staff.

This year, I look forward to connecting with our Grand Erie community in many ways – through visits to our schools and our sites, through committee and board meetings, and through the many events that happen throughout the year. I also look forward to focusing on high expectations and continuous improvement with our team of Superintendents to support the work of our schools and the system.

Let’s make this a great year of learning and celebrating our journey together. Here we go!

School’s Out for the Summer

It’s that time of the year: a chance to reflect on how far we’ve come and how much we’ve achieved over the past number of months, while looking forward to a break before we set out to conquer new goals in September. We have a lot to be proud of in Grand Erie.

The 2016-17 year was the first year of the implementation of our current Multi-Year Plan, which puts Success for Every Student at its centre, and supports that success through the indicators of Technology, Equity, Achievement, Well-Being, Community, and Environment.

Our Renewed Math Strategy launched this year, initiated by the Ministry of Education and adapted by Grand Erie to differentiate instruction and strengthen staff expertise in this vital subject. The Strategy provides the conditions for school and system improvement through differentiated and tiered levels of support for all schools in Grand Erie. While all schools received support, some schools are receiving increased support and a few have seen intensive support. Our educators have been hard at work embedding the subject across the curriculum, and including more experiential learning opportunities in order to build students’ skills.

Grand Erie’s Student Recognition program began this year, and it was a pleasure to meet so many students in person to formally acknowledge their achievements once a month during our Board Meetings. These students have been recognized for outstanding involvement and results achieved in athletics, the arts, community building, and academic success. Congratulations to this year’s recipients, and keep up the wonderful work! We look forward to teachers and administrators continuing to share their students’ success stories with us in the year ahead as the program continues.

Staff and student wellness is a crucial part of Success for Every Student, and this past year saw the launch of Grand Erie’s Be Well campaign within all of our elementary schools. Continuing on the success of Be Well in our secondary schools, the elementary launch revised the language around mental health and wellness to ensure younger learners know how to check in with their own wellness, recognize when they or a friend might need help, and find resources and assistance during critical times.

One important celebration of our inclusive school communities took place during Grand Erie’s Pink Shirt Day. On this special day in February, the whole board donned the colour pink to send a powerful message against bullying, discrimination, and homophobia as part of this international movement. It was truly inspiring to see this positive message accompanying the wave of pink!

This past spring, Grand Erie celebrated with the community at École Confédération for the official opening of the newly renovated school site and expanded French immersion program. It was a fitting time to celebrate its opening as Canada gears up for Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation very soon.

I thank all of our students, families and staff for their continued efforts in making Grand Erie a great place to learn and work.

After a busy school year, I look forward to moving away from the routine for a few weeks to relax and recharge in preparation for the next school year.

On that note, I wish all of you a rejuvenating summer break, and look forward to another exciting year in Grand Erie when we return in the fall.

 

 

Professional Learning

As the first month of 2017 finishes up and as we move towards the second half of this school year, it is a good time to reflect on what we have accomplished and what still needs to be done. This has led me to think about the importance of professional learning for all members of our organization.

In August 2016 the Ontario College of Teachers released the revised Foundations of Professional Practice and this update includes the revised Professional Learning Framework for the Teaching Profession. Page 24 of the document states the following:

A commitment to ongoing learning is a central tenet of teacher professionalism. Educators’ professional knowledge and efficacy are foster through engagement in professional learning and this is inextricably connected to student learning.

Within our organization our teaching and school administrative staff are part of many formal professional learning opportunities on topics such as the Renewed Math Strategy, literacy, assessment for, as, and of learning, kindergarten teaching and learning just to mention a few. However, it’s not just our teaching staff who participate in ongoing professional learning – our support staff, our service department staff and our senior administration also take time to engage in learning to support the work we do towards our goal of Success for Every Student.

At our weekly Executive Council meeting the senior team participates in professional learning both informally as we review current initiatives, reports going to Board and annual operating plan progress and also formally as we connect our work to the District Effectiveness Framework (2013) in our own learning sessions.

Our Trustees also engage in ongoing professional learning. Recently the Trustees and I spent some time together on a Monday evening to learn more about the Strong Districts Work that has been in place since 2012 and to review the characteristics of strong districts as formalized in the District Effectiveness Framework. Our discussions included what we mean in our 2016 – 2020 Multi-Year Strategic Plan when we refer to “a culture of high expectations” and how this statement includes students, staff and the system as a whole. This was our second professional learning session this school year and we have another one planned in April. These sessions are a great opportunity for our Trustees to gain awareness and knowledge in an environment of co-learning and co-leading. For me it is great to have a team of Trustees who are interested and engaged in what informs our system with Success for Every Student at the centre of our work.

Ongoing professional Learning is a foundation of professional practice for all of us involved in the work of a school board. It is through learning together at all levels of our system that we will move forward in achieving Success for Every Student in a Culture of High Expectations with a Focus on Students and Staff.

 

 

 

Holiday Message

700-x-250_150947_christmas-banner-2016Earlier this month I was considering how every few years, the school-year calendar hits the mark for me as to when we break and when Christmas and New Year’s Day falls.

It seems this year is the best scenario where we can maximize the time between the holidays to relax with family and friends.

We just have to get there first!

Students and staff have been enjoying the spirit of the season all month long.  Families are seeing their children in school performances, students are leading festive activities – from pyjama parties and crazy hat days to ugly sweaters contests – and educators are making connections in the curriculum to the season.

Once again, many of the activities happening at our schools and support centres this holiday season involve giving back to our various communities through food and toy drives and it is inspirational to see the spirit of giving alive and well in Grand Erie.

Community outreach continues to be a theme across our system and the support and generosity of our staff and students warms my heart.  As I think of our Grand Erie family and our staff who work so hard to make a difference for our students and families, I can’t help but feel such pride and gratitude.

While all this activity is happening at our schools and sites we are also working hard at home to prepare for own traditions and celebrations.  It’s certainly a busy time of year but we always seem to get through it.

There are moments during the rush of it all that we find ourselves thinking back on what we did this year and what we have yet to do.  We think of New Year’s resolutions and how we can make improvements in our lives that can help ourselves and benefit others.

This year we are celebrating a new direction with the launch of our 2016-2020 Multi-Year Plan. Our staff embraced this plan and have shown support for our new vision: Success for Every Student.

In my role as Director, I’m fortunate to pull together a collection of accomplishments and highlights from the previous year in my annual report to the community.

I encourage everyone to look at the report as it represents all of your dedication and determination in reaching our vision.

As we get ready to leave for the holidays, I wish to thank the staff, parents and community for being part of our journey to reach Success for Every Student.

Wishing you and your family all the best this holiday season. See you in 2017!

 

Giving Thanks and Giving Back

As we get ready to celebrate the Thanksgiving weekend, I think it’s important to give thanks for what we have and to consider how we can help others.

Thanksgiving is an ideal time to consider those who may not be as fortunate or have the same opportunities that we enjoy. At this time of year in connecting with staff across Grand Erie, I have heard how various groups are giving thanks and supporting their communities by helping others.

One way we are supporting our Grand Erie community is through the annual United Way campaign at our schools and our board offices. We know that 1 in 3 people will be helped by United Way funded programs. A donation to the United Way is invested locally towards programs that deliver multiple levels of support ranging from temporary relief in crisis situations, to preventative solutions that ensure people have the tools and support that is needed in order for them to prosper. The United Way funds programs that support the most vulnerable people in our local communities, many of whom live below the poverty line – families, seniors, individuals and children. The United Way invests in programs that are guaranteed to change lives in the community which helps to build an overall better community. I will be donating to the United Way this year because I know my donation will be well invested to improve the lives of people in our own community and will have a positive impact on the children and families in our school communities.

This year I am challenging the entire Grand Erie District School Board community to ensure 100% participation in the United Way campaign – by this I mean that we will see donations coming from all our schools and board offices. This can mean one donation per building or many – I know we can do this!  I ask staff to join me in contributing to the great work that the United Way does to support many member agencies.

This weekend I will reflect on the opportunities that I have been given and the ways in which I am fortunate in both my professional and personal lives. I continue to be grateful for family and friends who support me and remind me to seek balance throughout the year.

I look forward to spending some time outside enjoying the beautiful autumn season while taking care of my own wellness agenda.  I also look forward to my home filled with family as we celebrate our traditional Thanksgiving dinner and catch up on everyone’s busy lives.

I thank each of you who work in Grand Erie and contribute every day to supporting our goal of Success for Every Student. I hope that all of you are able to spend this Thanksgiving long weekend being grateful for all that you have and for everyone in your life who is special to you. I can certainly think of no better way to celebrate Thanksgiving.