BROCKVILLE — Trustees with the Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB) met on Wednesday, November 28 to discuss several agenda items and acknowledge outgoing trustees.
Farewell and Recognition for Outgoing Trustees:
Director of Education Stephen Sliwa recognized outgoing trustees at the last official meeting of the Board of Trustees for the 2014-2018 term.
Sliwa honoured Chair Jeff McMillan for his eight years as a trustee, the last four of which he served as chair, and his 40 years of work in education as both a teacher and trustee. Sliwa spoke of how McMillan lead the Board with integrity, for walking a straight path and for his efforts to unite and direct us as a school district on this journey. McMillan was presented with several gifts including the traditional pineapple given in jest by Board colleagues as a sign it’s time to “move on.”
Trustee Jeremy Armer was recognized for helping to improve Board operations through his background in business and for being a tireless advocate for Ward 7 and its schools.
Sliwa paid tribute to First Vice Chair Caroll Carkner for her work supporting Ward 10, particularly her organization of zone meetings that created connections between the Board and her community of Prescott-Russell. He also cited Carkner for her work with the UCDSB’s charitable foundation, Champions or Kids.
Sliwa also paid homage to Trustee Susan Richards for her work on behalf of Ward 3 and particularly for long and distinguished service on the Board’s Special Education Advisory Committee. Trustee Wendy MacPherson, who joined the meeting via phone, was thanked for her community leadership and being a strong advocate for Ward 9. Sliwa honoured her for being a “straight shooter” and ensuring the voice of students and her communities were heard.
Morrisburg Public School Improvement Plan for Student Achievement and Wellness (SIPSAW):
Principal Krista Mano told trustees how her school’s SIPSAW is addressing the needs of her students and helping them advance their understanding of math and literacy.
The school is an Ontario Focused Intervention Partnership (OFIP) school, meaning it has been identified for extra support by the province to help students succeed. For the past two years, the school has received additional resources for its programming, as well as additional professional development for staff.
The school is using guided reading to help students address their understanding of non-fiction text. Small groups of students read with a trained volunteer or educator at a level appropriate for their group based on EQAO and other data. The students are taught specific strategies to help them build their literacy. These include sounding out words, using pictures and the text to infer meaning, and rereading to enhance understanding.
In mathematics, the school is using a system called the “What to Look For Continuum of Numeracy Development.” The document is used to identify where a student should be at in literacy skills based on their age and grade level. The school identifies, through marker students, where students are at and then decides on strategies to move them to where they should be and beyond. Strategies the school uses to increase mathematical understanding include: doubling — where students are encouraged, in sequential order, to take a number and then add the same number to it; times-tabling exercises; and picking a number and then adding a larger number to gain a deeper understanding of the relationship between numbers.
The school increases wellness in several ways. Staff use the Kelso’s Choice and Zones of Regulation programs to teach students self-regulation techniques and positive ways to deal with conflict. They have a sensory room and a calming room for students who need a break from regular classroom instruction. The school also makes a conscious effort to connect students with the community through visits to a local retirement home and the Winchester District Memorial Hospital. Students also enjoy fun programs such as the Stay on Course 4 Communities golf program, a dance club, and the Bluebots Robotics Club.
North Dundas District High School Board Improvement Plan for Student Achievement and Wellness (SIPSAW):
Principal Angela Grandy presented on her school’s SIPSAW and the way staff are teaching students new reading strategies so they can be successful in literacy, math and other subjects.
A study of students’ EQAO results and other data suggests they have trouble understanding complex, non-fiction text. This makes it difficult to comprehend questions on EQAO math and literacy testing. The school has responded by teaching students learning strategies such as how to detach suffixes and prefixes from words they understand so they can perceive how they change their meaning. Students are taught to recognize key words and highlight them to deduce what is being asked, in addition to how to view pictures, graphs and other information within a text to infer the meaning of a question.
In Wellness, the school is using data from Tell Them From Me surveys to address a range of issues from updating the school dress code to providing new opportunities such as Wellness Wednesdays, which offer students a chance to participate in healthy activities such as Zumba and yoga.
Policy Revisions Due to Legalization of Non-Medical Cannabis Use:
The Board approved changes to the Community Use of School Grounds and Facilities Policy (policy 435). The revisions reflect changes in federal law regarding non-medical cannabis use, and resulting revisions to provincial regulations. The changes state that all rental agreements must comply with provisions of the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, the Liquor Licence Act, and the Cannabis Act. It also states all board facilities must abide by the organization’s Code of Conduct. The policy is subject to periodic review by the board to meet emerging situations relative to school usage.