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Message from the Director of Education
Message from the Director of Education

November 13, 2018

Every Student Counts

“If we have a negative experience in school where we don’t feel like we belong or feel like we are worth anything then it’s hard for us to go into adulthood with confidence and with a sense of feeling like we are capable of conquering anything because all through our childhood, our school life, we’ve been in the shadows.”

These are the words of one of our secondary school students named Charlotte. They are powerful words and speak so eloquently to how crucial our equity work is. We have an individual and collective responsibility to provide learning environments where our students feel safe and welcome and know that their identities are valued and respected. We want all of our students to cross the stage at graduation feeling confident and optimistic about their futures.

This week, there are several important things taking place in our board to support this work.

One is the beginning of the Every Student Counts Survey. This voluntary and confidential survey will provide us with a deeper understanding of our student population and their experiences. It will help us to identify barriers and where we need to focus our efforts to create more equitable and inclusive school environments.

The survey will be sent home for students in Kindergarten to Grade 6 to be completed with a parent/guardian. Students in Grades 7-12 will be invited to complete it at school. All students will have the opportunity to participate if they choose, and supports will be available for those who need assistance.

Parents/guardians are our strongest partners in education and we thank you for your support.

In addition, our annual Quest Conference will bring together people from across our board, province and around the world to learn from and with each other about what more we can do to create healthy learning environments for our students and support their well-being. We are welcoming some outstanding keynote speakers and this year we are pleased to introduce Learning by Doing sessions that will invite participants into our schools and departments to see some of the outstanding work taking place within our board.

Thank you to everyone who is hosting international visitors and conference participants this week, sharing their learning journey through sessions at the conference, and supporting the conference. I would also like to say a special thank you to all of our students who will be sharing their voices with us through Artonomy, Student Voice talks, student performances and more. Student voice is an essential part of this conversation and it is wonderful to see their voices so well represented.

I look forward to sharing some of the key learnings and highlights with you following the conference.

I also want to acknowledge that last week was Treaties Recognition Week in Ontario, and I know many schools have hosted speakers and participated in learning around this topic. As people who live on this land, we need to understand the importance and continued relevance of treaties in our lives today. For far too long, many Canadians were not taught the truth about some of the dark chapters of our history and their impact on Indigenous communities.

Kevin Lamoureux, one of our keynote speakers at Quest, has been quoted saying, “I really do believe that education is how we begin to heal. Education is the vehicle by which we start to move toward genuine healing as a nation, and as people.”

As a school board, we are committed to being part of this healing process and deepening and enhancing the accurate understandings of First Nation, Metis and Inuit cultures, perspectives and histories among all of our students.

I want to bring it back to Charlotte’s eloquent words, because our students are at the centre of all of this work, and all that we do. Together, we can help create welcoming and inclusive learning environments that enable our students to shine.

Sincerely,
 
Louise Sirisko
Director of Education 
 
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