Wednesday, May 5th - As part of the professional development plan for leaders, all vice-principals within the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario took part in the Catholic Principals’ Council of Ontario’s (CPCO) Special Education for Administrators Additional Qualification Course (SEA-AQ) during the 2020-2021 school year. Superintendent of School Effectiveness, Heather Gerber, the course instructor, shared with Trustees, the rich learning that took place during the course to build leadership capacity and best practices to support students with special education needs.
Providing consistent professional development such as this helps ensure that our leaders are equipped with the most current policies, documents, and procedures to ensure student success for all learners. To build leadership capacity for school leaders in meeting the needs of students with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), the Ontario Ministry of Education has created subsidies for the Special Education for Administrators Additional Qualification Program (SEA-AQ).
“This course was offered to all CDSBEO vice-principals who did not already have the qualification,” began Superintendent Gerber.
“The course looked at the Ontario Leadership Framework, Ice Monographs, videos, readings and how school leaders can use these tools to ensure an inclusive education setting for all students. We looked at our Mental Health Strategy, Equity Plan, Strategic Plan, Board Improvement Plan, and School Improvement Plans, to name a few. Additionally, we hosted several guest speakers from within our Board to ensure the learning had a local flavour!”
Superintendent Gerber noted that many different technologies were used and embraced throughout the course. Participants engaged in creative learning using various tools with assignments that encouraged ingenuity around inclusive education, and how administrators can impact special education programs in a positive way. The practicums looked at relevant legislation, literature, and policies and included data, considerations of benefits to schools, parents, and students. Additionally, participants were asked to make connections to board and school improvement plans, demonstrate the application of theory to practice, include personal reflections and next steps.
“One of the main ideas I reiterated as key learning during this course was the phrase – move out of judgement and into curiosity. Too often we judge parents or students not knowing their background, not knowing if there are mental wellness concerns, a history of trauma, or intergenerational trauma. It is our job as educators to become behaviour detectives and help our students regulate and feel safe, so that they are able to access their curriculum and learning,” explained Superintendent Gerber.
“Thank you, Superintendent Gerber, for this enlightening presentation,” concluded Chair Lalonde. “It is always wonderful when educators can come together and collaborate and share ideas to enrich the learning experiences for our students.”
School Board Progress Reports, Graduation rates & Student Success update . . .
The Ministry of Education has recently released the 2018-2019 provincial graduation rates. The data collected by the Ministry is based on the cohort of students who started grade 9 four years prior (in 2014-2015). The information is retrieved through the Ontario School Information System (OnSIS). Annually, the Ministry of Education provides the Board with a graduation rate based on a four and five-year formula.
Effective CDSBEO Student Success initiatives play a significant role in graduation rates. Superintendent of School Effectiveness, Natalie Cameron, presented details on the results of the latest graduation rates, as well as information on some of the initiatives which are helping CDSBEO students to experience a successful graduation outcome.
“Each year, the Ministry of Education reports on our progress across ten key indicators in the School Board Progress Reports. These indicators include grade 6 reading results, grade 10 literacy, the percentage of students who have completed 16 credits or more by the end of grade 10, the percentage of students who have completed 23 credits or more by the end of grade 11, and the percentage of students who graduated with an Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) within four or five years of starting Grade 9,” began Superintendent Cameron.
These key indicators have shown a high rate of success for CDSBEO learners and based on the latest statistics released by the Ministry, the CDSBEO four-year graduation rate was 87.5 per cent (provincial rate 81.4), and the five-year graduation rate was 90.4 per cent (provincial rate 87.2).
“Student success initiatives help to ensure our students are achieving a successful graduation outcome. Our goal is to support students in their chosen pathway,” noted Superintendent Cameron.
Superintendent Cameron highlighted several initiatives within the school that are helping secondary students to be engaged in their learning, including opportunities for virtual reality exploration, and support for course selection, pathway planning and career research through myBlueprint – a tool to help students discover post-secondary learning options beginning in grade 7.
“The Student Success Teams at each school also focused on supporting each and every student whether it is with assignment completion, anxiety coping tools, attendance, or mental health supports,” explained Superintendent Cameron. “Teams meet regularly to discuss student progress and then pay particular attention to the students most at-risk. There are daily check-ins, calls home, virtual chats, and attendance checks, when students demonstrate signs of disengagement. The Student Success Teams put strategies in place to help re-engage our learners.”
Despite the challenges posed by COVID-19, CDSBEO students were still eager to take part in Dual Credit opportunities, which were delivered virtually, with some face-to-face delivery of OYAP and trades programs.
“Our two partner colleges, Algonquin and St. Lawrence, were very accommodating and continued to support our Dual Credit students by offering virtual classes as well as engagement opportunities for younger students. Algonquin College and St. Lawrence College both met frequently with our Dual Credit and OYAP coordinators to trouble-shoot and discuss the best ways to support learners. They have also coordinated with Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) leads to offer Dual Credit courses that would help support completion of credits for SHSM students.”
Additionally, as many co-op students had difficulty maintaining placements due to periods of lockdown, Student Success Teams provided alternate experiential learning opportunities through certifications. These certifications were previously used primarily for SHSM students but were made available to all Co-operative Education learners this year.
Superintendent Cameron provided many testimonials and success stories shared by learners and educators in several video testimonials, as well as details of the many virtual trades events and career fairs, which were hosted by the Board for students and parents.
“Thank you so much Superintendent Cameron, for providing this update,” concluded Chair Lalonde. “It is wonderful to see that our Board has worked hard to continue to provide enriching learning opportunities for our students in these exceptional circumstances, and we are grateful to see the successful graduation outcomes for our Board.”
Monday, May 3rd - Trustees from the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario attended the 91st Annual Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association Annual General Meeting, which was held virtually on Saturday, May 1st, 2021. Attended by delegates from across the province, the event provides a forum for the election of regional representatives to the provincial board, and to acknowledge and honour the service and commitment of Ontario’s Catholic school trustees.
At the meeting, Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario Chair Todd Lalonde was elected to a fourth term as the OCSTA Regional Director for Region 10, which includes the CDSBEO, the Algonquin and Lakeshore CDSB, and the Renfrew County CDSB. Chair Lalonde will serve in this position for a two-year term.
“I have served in the role of Region 10 Director on the OCSTA Board of Directors for three consecutive terms, and I look forward to serving for a fourth term. I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to represent trustees and students across Eastern Ontario, and I am extremely grateful for the support that has been provided to me. Being part of the OCSTA team has been an enriching opportunity, and I graciously look forward to continuing to serve in this role.”
“I am pleased to acknowledge with gratitude all the candidates who stepped forward to serve the mission of Catholic education at the provincial level as an OCSTA Regional Director. The newly acclaimed and elected trustees take on a responsibility to serve the best interests of students and the priorities of Ontario’s publicly funded Catholic schools. We welcome their commitment and support for the important work we do as part of Ontario’s successful education system,” said OCSTA President Patrick Daly.
Friday, Apr. 30th - Trustees with the Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB) met virtually on Wednesday, April 28, 2021 for a regularly scheduled board meeting.
Trustees send best wishes to retiring Director . . .
Trustees gave their best wishes to retiring UCDSB Director of Education and Secretary to the Board Stephen Sliwa. Sliwa, who served in education for more than three decades, was present for his last trustees meeting. Chair John McAllister spoke on behalf of the trustees and turned the attention toward the recent announced that Sliwa was named the recipient of the 2021 Eastern Ontario Staff Development Network’s (EOSDN) Eleanor Newman Outstanding Service Award. Roger Richard was appointed by Trustees as the Acting Secretary of the Board until the new Director of Education and Secretary to the Board is in place. Richard filled the role of a Senior Business Advisor from 2018-2019 for the UCDSB.
UCDSB reports on Environmental-Focused Education Plan . . .
Staff outlined how the school board is currently implementing environmentally focused educational opportunities for its students. Currently, staff are implementing environmental lesson plans through curriculum expectations outlined across all subject areas.
As well, schools across the district have implemented school-based environmental initiatives such as outdoor learning spaces, community gardens, community partnerships, and environmental clubs. Environmental education is also being addressed through experiential learning, Indigenous education, literacy, and outdoor education programming.
Finally, environmental education is being delivered through Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) programs in our secondary schools, that focus on the environmental sector and agricultural sector.
Budget outlook 2021-2022 presented . . .
Staff provided trustees with a high-level budget outlook for the 2021-22 school year. With expected sustained lower enrolment projections as a result of the pandemic, the school board has implemented early planning using these projected numbers for the budget.
When it comes to funding, staff predict stable funding for the Grants for Student Needs and don’t anticipate any further funding for COVID-related budget line items. However, staff anticipate a stabilization for these pandemic-related expenses in 2021-2022.
Based on this information, the finance team outlined a projected 2021-22 revenue of $371.8 million while expenses are estimated at $371.2 million. These budget projections result in a compliant budget with a preliminary projected surplus of $0.6M. Budget deliberations for trustees is expected to begin in May.
Social-Emotional learning mathematics . . .
The implementation of a new strand in mathematics known as social emotional learning is helping CDSBEO students develop a positive relationship with mathematics. Social-emotional learning skills help students develop confidence, cope with challenges, and think critically. This learning reflects current research and the government’s commitment to student well-being and skill-building.
Principal of Curriculum, Nancy McIntyre, and Curriculum Numeracy Consultant, Crystal Lake, provided an overview of how social-emotional learning is helping students to become more confident learners and thinkers. With the release of the 2020 new Mathematics Curriculum (grades 1 to 8), the Ministry of Education has embedded “Social Emotional Learning” as a new mathematics strand.
“In 2019, the Ministry released the new Health and Physical Education curriculum which included the strand of social-emotional learning. Then in the fall of 2020, it appeared in the new mathematics curriculum,” began Principal McIntyre.
“It is clear that social emotional learning skills are necessary for student success.”
Students develop social-emotional learning skills and use math processes (for example, problem solving and communicating) across the math curriculum. Through these skills students will learn to make connections between math and everyday life. The strand helps students to recognize and discuss mistakes and learn from them, as well as use strategies to be resourceful in working through challenging problems. Benefits to social-emotional learning include academic improvement, positive social behaviour, less emotional distress, and fewer problematic behaviours.
Since October, the CDSBEO Curriculum Team has been producing social-emotional learning lessons and tips each week to help educators navigate and integrate these skills into their mathematics program. In the first few months of social-emotional learning lessons, the team focused on maintaining positive motivation and perseverance. Each lesson focused on a variety of themes including goal setting, planning for barriers, building courage and the importance of making mistakes.
“In January, we made the shift from building confidence and positive motivation lessons, to managing and dealing with emotions,” noted Curriculum Consultant Crystal Lake. “We started to focus on identifying our emotions and looked at a variety of strategies to help instill calm, when needed. These strategies include breathing strategies, taking a mindful minute, calming colouring, and connecting with nature.”
The importance of developing self-awareness and a sense of identity are also a focus of social-emotional learning. Students are invited to reflect on texts, specifically the book “I Am Enough” by Grace Byers, which provide constructive affirmations for those who lack self-esteem and self-acceptance. The lesson provides opportunities for students to reflect on themselves in a positive light and build their self-confidence.
“In the coming months, we will look at the last point in the social-emotional learning expectations, which focuses on building positive relationships and communicating effectively,” concluded Lake. “In these lessons, students will reflect on communicating effectively and what positive problem-solving can look like. We will continue to create lessons involving engaging read-alouds, with a variety of reflective and responsive activities that align with the appropriate expectations.”
“Thank you for joining us this evening to share the exceptional ideas that have been provided to support social-emotional learning in our classrooms. This is certainly an amazing way to help our students grow personally and academically,” concluded Chair Lalonde.
Care for our Common Home . . .
The CDSBEO has recently responded to a call for best practices that went out to all schools across the province from OCSTA Director of Catholic Education, Anne O’Brien. The request asked school boards to share the ways we communicate, collaborate, and celebrate eco initiatives in schools. The responses provided are to be featured in a collective OCSTA document called Together in Faith: Care for Our Common Home.
Principal of Religious and Family Life Education, Paul Mantha and Curriculum Consultant Meghan Wood submitted a response that was so outstanding, the Board received a letter from OCSTA President Patrick Daly thanking our Board for our contributions to OCSTA’S collection of promising practices that will be presented at the upcoming OCSTA Annual General Meeting.
“The CDSBEO Department of Religious and Family Life Education is excited to highlight the diverse means by which schools collaborate, communicate, and celebrate environmental initiatives as we work together to demonstrate our resounding response to the call of our Holy Father to care for our common home,” began Mantha in his presentation to the Board of Trustees.
“OCSTA intends to publish this compendium of effective practices on May 24, 2021, as a means of commemorating the anniversary of Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si, published on the same day five years ago, May 24, 2015. Our presentation this evening will highlight many of the wonderful examples of student and staff commitment to the environment that were shared with OCSTA.”
On May 24, 2015, Pope Francis signed the encyclical Laudato Si’, which called upon not only Catholics all over the world, but the entire global community to recognize how every person is profoundly connected and dependent on one another, as well as on the natural world in which we all live. He stated that a great cultural, spiritual, and educational challenge stands before humanity, and it will demand that we set out on the long path of renewal. Pope Francis urges that we “regain the conviction that we need one another, and that we have a shared responsibility for others and the world.”
“With respect to Laudato Si, the OCSTA asked for boards to share the way their schools build environmental awareness, strategies, projects, campaigns, and activities through three areas including collaboration and connection, communication and engagement, and celebration and proclamation,” explained Mantha.
While there are many ways in which CDSBEO schools demonstrates these three important characteristics of effective stewardship, the EcoSchools program has provided an avenue to allow school communities to showcase their commitment to the environment. Schools from the CDSBEO first began applying to become certified as Ontario EcoSchools in 2008. That year, four schools (St. Andrew’s, St. John Bosco, St. Mark, and St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic High School) received silver certification. The program has since grown, and the Board now has a 100 per cent certification status in all 39 elementary and secondary schools.
“It is through our EcoSchools work that we demonstrate our dedication to the environment and through which I will now summarize how we collaborate and connect, communicate and engage, and celebrate and proclaim our call to care for our common home.”
Collaboration by members of school communities and the building of community connections through eco initiatives takes places in a number of ways across the Board. Through the EcoSchools program, freedom is given to create goals and action plans based on the school community. Five areas that allow us to collaborate and connect continue to be a driving force in school eco initiatives. These include special environmental days (Earth Day, World Water Day, and World Ocean’s Day), student leadership, energy monitoring, waste audits, and school ground greening projects.
“Many schools also engage in collaboration and connection through the development of home-school-community partnerships in specialized recycling programs including battery recycling, printer ink cartridge recycling, and marker and pen recycling,” added Mantha.
Many additional examples were provided of ways that students engage in learning and leadership opportunities through various environmental projects and initiatives including the planting of butterfly and pollinator gardens, community garbage pick-up and greening projects, supporting local food banks with food grown in school gardens, regular waste audits and waste free lunch initiatives, composting, tree planting, and environmental awards for students.
“In closing, 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. Our CDSBEO community, students, staff, schools, and board demonstrate ongoing collaboration and commitment to environmentally sustainable actions and practices, not only through our EcoSchools initiatives, but also out of love and faith in solidarity for our common home. We enjoy communicating our passion for environmental initiatives and deeply engaging all school communities in practices that help to ensure sustainable practices.”
“I am so extremely proud of our Board and the success that has been attained in environmental initiatives. We are extraordinary