CDSBEO top in province for EcoSchools . . .

Thursday, Oct. 17th - EcoSchools Canada is an environmental education and certification program for students in Kindergarten through to grade 12. Participating in the EcoSchools program gives students the opportunity not only to contribute to improving the environment, but also an opportunity to learn about the environment through an integrated curriculum. The program encourages students to become environmental leaders, reduce the ecological impact of schools, and build environmentally responsible school communities. Meghan Wood, Curriculum Consultant with the CDSBEO, presented information to the Board of Trustees on the impressive accomplishments of CDSBEO schools with the certification process, and what being certified means within the school community.

        “EcoSchools Canada empowers students with the knowledge, skills, and desire to act as environmentally responsible citizens. Schools may apply to become certified as an EcoSchool through an annual certification process which assesses and recognizes accomplishments by awarding points in key areas of achievement,” began Wood. 

         Wood noted that the teachings of Pope Francis encourage all people to be stewards of the earth, while caring for those who are most effected by climate change.

        “While there are many ways in which the CDSBEO family demonstrates stewardship, the EcoSchools program provides an avenue to allow school communities to showcase their commitment to the environment.” Ontario EcoSchools has been re-branded to EcoSchools Canada. It is now a nation-wide environmental education and certification program for both elementary and secondary schools.

        EcoSchools Canada, endorsed by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), empowers students with the knowledge, skills, and desire to act as environmentally responsible citizens.

        “Schools from the CDSBEO first began applying to become certified as an Ontario EcoSchool in 2008. That year, four schools received silver certification,” noted Wood. The EcoSchools program allows teachers, students and school communities to tailor participation and goals to the needs of the school. This not only contributes to bettering the environment, but also allows students to learn about the environment through integrated curriculum. The EcoSchools Canada website has resources, activities, and lesson plans that teachers can access, with explicit connections to the Ontario curriculum. Schools are assessed in 6 different areas: Teamwork and Leadership, Energy Conservation, Waste Minimization, School Ground Greening, Curriculum, and Environmental Stewardship. 

        The EcoSchools process begins in early September when school educator leads begin establishing their Eco or Green Teams. By the last Friday of November, schools must perform their first audit and submit the results to EcoSchools.

        “For many of our Silver, Gold and Platinum schools, they will have completed multiple audits by this date,” explained Wood. As this year continues, school teams are continuing to actively engage other students and teachers through posters, school events, information campaigns and making explicit cross-curricular connections. The assessment leads schools to one of either bronze, silver, gold, or platinum level certification.

        “Not only were 100 per cent of CDSBEO schools certified in 2018, but the CDSBEO was recognized as being the top board in the province for school participation,” concluded Wood.

        “We are certainly proud of the accomplishments of our schools with regards to being environmental stewards,” noted Chair Lalonde. “Once again, the CDSBEO has demonstrated itself as a leader in the province, and we are very proud of the work being done by our schools and administrators to help make this possible.” 


Prior Learning Assessment Recognition for Adult Learners

        The School of Alternative and Continuing Education is working to increase growth mindset in students through wellness programming, equity and inclusion and improved pathway planning and credit accumulation in all schools. The CDSBEO offers a variety of initiatives to meet the needs of learners. The continuing education program enables adult learners to come back to upgrade their education and potentially attain their Ontario Secondary School Diploma through eLearning courses, PLAR or the adult PSW day school program.

        Jennifer Lentz, Vice-Principal, St. James Catholic Education Centre and Karen Tobin, eLearning Coordinator, presented information to the Board on the PLAR program and how it is helping adult learners to attain their Ontario Secondary School Diploma.

        “PLAR is a credit granting process that recognizes the knowledge and skills students have acquired, in formal and informal ways, outside of the secondary school pathway,” explained Tobin. “PLAR stands for Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition for mature students. Mature students are students who are over the age of 18 and have been out of a day school program for a period longer than 10 months.” 

        When an adult reaches out to St. James Catholic Education Centre for continuing education opportunities, they have often struggled previously in a traditional school setting. Through the PLAR process, the insurmountable idea of returning to school to attain an OSSD becomes manageable.

        “They no longer need to attend class to earn 30 credits to graduate or put in 3300 hours in a classroom setting. This can provide hope, motivation and increase self-worth, as their history and practical learning is recognized and valued in a tangible way,” noted Tobin.

        “Typically, the PSW program provides the largest number of students interested in PLAR, followed by night school and eLearning students. We also have had adults who are working through the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program and enrolled in co-operative education courses,” explained Lentz. Lentz and Tobin highlighted examples of two students in different life situations, who had taken advantage of the PLAR process to attain their secondary school diploma.

        “A student may earn up to 26 credits, with up to 16 for grades 9 and 10, and up to ten credits for grades 11 and 12” noted Lentz. “Additionally, adult learners must pass the literacy component, and must complete volunteer hours. There are multiple entry points for an adult to begin the PLAR process, and this makes the individual plan very important. We meet and plan a pathway that fits the needs and goals of each individual.”

        “Many thanks to your team for all of their work, and to you for your leadership with this program,” concluded Chair Lalonde to Vice-Principal Lentz. “It is obvious that there is so much success being achieved as a result of the options available to our adult learners, thanks to your dedication and the support provided to them on their learning journey.” 


Orange Shirt Day 2019

CDSBEO Orange Shirt Day was an opportunity for the board to honour the “Calls to Action” of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in a meaningful, age-appropriate way that is respectful to both survivors, intergenerationally traumatized students and to the truth of Canadian history. For the second year during the month of September, schools from across the CDSBEO unpacked curriculum to learn about the impact of residential schools in Canada, while making connections to the Board theme which focuses on kindness, love and empathy. Marian Lawson MacDonald and Scott Stoqua, Indigenous Education Leads with the Board, presented information on how Orange Shirt Day was recognized in CDSBEO schools. 

        September 30, 2019 marked the 7th Annual Orange Shirt Day in Canada. The orange shirt represents the story of Phyllis Webstad, who had her new orange shirt taken from her when she arrived at a residential school. 

        “Phyllis Webstad is just one person; however, she represents thousands of children who went to residential schools,” began Lawson MacDonald. “We tell her story as a way of capturing the injustice of our Canadian history as well as the need for all of us to work toward reconciliation.” 

        “Although this is technically one day, we spend the month of September providing support for schools to honour this day in a meaningful way. We began by offering two workshops about Orange Shirt Day at the Learning Fair in August, and by distributing t-shirts to participants,” noted Stoqua. 

        Schools were provided with Orange Shirt Day kits, which included a read-aloud for students titled When We Were Alone, and in French Quand on était seuls. 

        “The story tells of a young girl who is helping her grandmother in the garden. As they work side by side, the young girl notices things about her grandmother that make her curious. As she asks her grandmother questions, the story unfolds, and we hear about a time in history when everything was taken away from the grandmother. We learn about the importance of culture, language, and family and the need to celebrate it, so that it is never lost again.” 

        In primary grades, students discuss kindness and empathy for one another. In junior grades, the focus of the learning is around identity, the importance of being proud of who you are, and of being accepting of others. For intermediate learners, the focus is on culture and the importance of celebrating diversity. School visitors supported the learning for secondary students, including visits by Indigenous elders. 

        “Although September 30 is over for this year, our work to create safe and empathetic schools for all never ends. We can be proud of the journey toward Reconciliation that we are on in the CDSBEO,” concluded Lawson MacDonald. “We honour all residential school victims, survivors, and their families, and we honour our students by telling them the truth and leading them toward a fairer society, because every child matters."

Holy Trinity Agriculture program . . .

Teaching students agri-sustainability . . .

Tuesday, Sept. 17th - Holy Trinity Principal Dawn Finnegan, along with teacher Mike Smith, presented information to the Board of Trustees on the school’s Agriculture program, which began three years ago. Since its inception, the program has grown from 13 students in 2017 to 35 students in 2019-2020.

        “In 2017, a 600 square foot greenhouse was built, and 4.3 acres were sectioned off for the farm,” noted Smith. “The goals of the program are to teach students about sustainable agriculture and sustainable energy. There are currently 90 gardens with 60 varieties of plants growing.”

        Students attaining their SHSM Agriculture take a variety of courses, with three available electives and three mandatory certifications including CPR, Standard First Aid and WHMIS.

        “Students have completed courses such as Animal First Aid, Fall Prevention, Grain Grading, Ladder Safety, Large Animal Handling, Livestock Medicine, Soil Testing, Plant Identification, Working at Heights and Weed and Pest Management.”

        At the inception of the program, the plan was to build a sustainable permaculture farm and orchard on four acres of land. The gardens were mulched and organized in groups of six, and planted according to type, with rotation each year, allowing for sustainable farming practices.

        “The first 13 students built 54 gardens during class time, lunch time and on weekends,” noted Smith. “The project was something the group was very proud of and they were very passionate about their work.”

        One hundred and thirty-two fruit and nut trees have been planted on site, and over 60 varieties of vegetables are grown. A greenhouse, which was built at the program’s inception, allows seedlings to begin growing in February thanks to solar heaters built by the students.

        “Renewable energy and sustainable resource use are taught in two courses as part of the program,” added Smith, also noting that the program attracts all levels of learners.

        “This year, the garden produced close to 1,000 pounds of produce,” he said.

        Moving forward, the school has a goal to become a zero-waste school through recycling and composting. Plans are in place to diversify the gardens, introduce bees, and grow fruits and vegetables which will support some of the CDSBEO secondary schools’ the foods programs. Vice-Chair Eamer commended Mike Smith on his passion, which has resulted in a very robust program.

        “Having been around the school and watching things develop, it is obvious that because of your passion for the program, this can only continue to grow. I hear from parents that they certainly appreciate all of your hard work in developing a multi-faceted learning experience that offers something tangible to all learners.” 


School-Based Mental Health Needs Assessment

        Anxiety, mood disorders and substance use continue to be the three main mental health concerns for CDSBEO schools. To help address these concerns, the Board provides various supportive training programs for school staff, who are also supported by a district level mental health team. Each year, schools are invited to complete a School-Based Mental Health Needs Assessment which informs the annual School Board Mental Health Action Plan. Michelle Neville, CDSBEO Mental Health Lead, shared information with the Board on the training and supports provided to students as part of the Mental Health Action Plan.

        “Every school in our Board has a School Mental Health Team which is comprised of various staff members,” began Neville. “The team completes an annual needs assessment survey to help inform the mental health supports required for students at the school.”

        Various protocols have been developed by school and community partners, including the SPIRR (Suicide Prevention, Intervention, and Risk Review Protocol). These protocols help to guide support and response procedures.

        “Schools received a refresher on the SPIRR Protocol at the start of the school year,” noted Neville. Staff have received training in several programs including the Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST), and Mental Health First Aid for Adults who Interact with Youth. These training programs are an integral part of the mental health supports provided to students. Parent and student engagement also continue to be an area of focus within the schools.

        “In CDSBEO schools, we have a variety of things we are doing to improve parent engagement including a partnership with the Parents’ Lifelines of Eastern Ontario (PLEA) and Triple P Positive Parenting Program that offer groups within our communities, and the monthly newsletters which go out to schools focusing on tips for positive mental health,” explained Neville. The Board also has two Mental Health and Addiction Counsellors that provide support within CDSBEO secondary schools.

        “In keeping with other national trends, the most pressing concerns within schools are anxiety, mood disorders, and substance use,” noted Neville. Substance use is supported in various ways within schools.

        The Board has developed the Guide for Working Together to Respond to Children and Youth Struggling with Substance Use, Addictions and Mental Health Concerns, in addition to other programs to address accurate information sharing, cannabis education, and Core Addiction Practice (CAP) training. Sources of Strength is a peer-led program for students in grades 7 through 12 which helps to develop social networks of positivity and prevent mood disorders. The program helps to create connections for students with adults and peers, enhancing the well-being of students. The initiative helps to build strength through connections, reduce suicide risk, and create a caring environment for all students, including those that might be in crisis. The program teaches students eight sources of strength which they are encouraged to identify and discuss. Anxiety is addressed in the school mental health toolkit, which has been provided to each school. Prayer and Christian meditation are part of the tools available in the toolkit, along with other suggestions for strategies to help reduce stress and anxiety.

        “At CDSBEO, we will make use of this data and continue to strive to support child and youth mental health to ensure that our students can learn and grow to their full potential.” “We are grateful for all of your efforts in implementing a diverse set of tools and resources to ensure that the needs of all students are being met,” concluded Chair Lalonde 

Fred Fox honours UCDSB student . . .

Wednesday, Sept. 11th – Every September Terry Fox’s brother, Fred Fox, visits schools across Canada to share Terry’s story. Yesterday he visited Maxville Public School and Thousand Islands Elementary School (TIES) as part of his cross-Canada tour.

        While at Maxville Public School, Fox was part of a special assembly to honour Oarn Crawford, a grade 6 student at the school, for the fundraising he’s done for the Terry Fox Foundation. Crawford has always participated in his school’s Terry Fox Run day, but for the past three years has also been participating in the Cornwall Terry Fox Run.    To date, he has raised more than $3,000.

        For the 2019 Cornwall Terry Fox run, Crawford set a fundraising goal of $400, but significantly surpassed that goal raising more than $1,000.

        “I raise money to help kids with cancer,” explained Crawford. “I will continue to raise money until Cornwall’s Terry Fox Run on Sunday.”

        In addition to the Cornwall run, Crawford will participate in his school’s run on September 26. Fox presented Crawford with an appreciation gift during the assembly and gave the school a Terry Fox book for their library. During Fox’s visit at TIES, the school was awarded a pennant to signify 15 years of participation in the Terry Fox School Run. TIES will participate in their 15th annual run this year on September 26. 

Capital, school renewal and school condition improvement projects discussions . . .

Tuesday, Aug. 27th - Over the past four years, the Ministry of Education has increased its annual investment in school renewal and school condition improvement funds allocated to school boards. This increased funding will continue for a fifth year in 2019-2020. 

        Over the past year, the Plant and Maintenance Department has completed work on projects in all Board facilities, including 4,800 work orders and more than 77 projects under School Renewal, School Condition Improvement, Capital and AODA, in addition to 20 flooring projects and 40 painting projects. The Ministry expectation is that school boards will spend these funds on schools that will remain open. The funds are intended to cover the repairing and replacement of existing building systems, major building components, and facility interiors and surrounding site components. 

Associate Director of Education Bonnie Norton introduced Roger Cauley, Manager of Plant and Maintenance to the Board of Trustees. 

        “This year, we have had a number of large projects, which has been challenging for the Plant and Maintenance Department, who have worked extremely hard over the summer to ready our schools for September,” noted Associate Director Norton. “The Board has focused on transitioning to new facilities, as well as carrying out many upgrades to existing facilities.” 

        The largest project at Holy Name of Mary Catholic School in Almonte included a six-classroom addition to replace five classroom portables. The new permanent space, which was completed in March 2019, totaled $3.3 million funded under Capital Priorities. In addition, a new childcare facility was added at the site, which included a 5,575 square foot addition of one toddler and two preschool rooms. The childcare facility, which totaled $1.6 million, was complete in June and will be supported by the Municipality of Mississippi Mills. 

        “St. Matthew Catholic Secondary School in Cornwall has completed their move to the former St. Columban’s Catholic School,” noted Cauley. “The site will also be home to the Turning Points/ABLE program, which was previously located in the Cornwall Board Office.” 

        The facility received renovations totaling $1.5 million, partially funded by the proceeds of disposition, as well as $150,000 from School Condition Improvement. 

        “Many new upgrades have been added to the facility including a new Construction Technology shop with a new dust collector, a well-equipped Hospitality Suite, modern hairstyling salon with humidity climate control, renovated classrooms and administrative offices, a new bus loop, an accessible washroom, and new lockers.” 

        A daycare and EarlyON Child and Family Support Centre project is planned at St. Joseph’s Catholic School in Gananoque. The project received funding of $1.6 million under Child Care Amber LaBerge, Communications Officer - 613-258-7757 ext.3024 or 613-485-0268 

        Capital, with an additional $340,000 funded locally by the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville. A completion date for this project has not yet been determined as the Board is awaiting Ministry approval to proceed to tender. The provincially funded space will include a three-room daycare space, office, staff room, staff washroom, kitchen, and laundry room. The EarlyON Centre, funded by the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville, will include a play area for ten children, office, and washroom. 

        Hundreds of other projects including upgrades to roofing, heating, ventilation and climate control systems, painting, washroom upgrades, and other interior and exterior renovations were completed during the summer months at many facilities across the Board. 

        “Thank you for the opportunity to highlight our progress this summer,” Mr. Cauley concluded. “I am thrilled and excited about the work we’ve completed, and I look forward to continuing to improve our facilities.”