NDDHS and Char-Lan among schools chosen to be part of pilot program studying student stress over the past year

Above, Board of Trustees for the Upper Canada District School Board. Courtesy photo

BROCKVILLE — Trustees with the Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB) met on Wednesday, Nov. 27, for their regular Board meeting. They discussed several agenda items. 

Update on Board Improvement Plan for Student Achievement and Wellness A team led by Superintendents Ron Ferguson and Bill Loshaw updated the Board of Trustees on the Board Improvement Plan for Student Achievement and Wellness (BIPSAW). The plan outlines how the UCDSB is improving student wellness, and helping students achieve in the key areas of literacy and mathematics. 

Chief Psychologist Dr. David Armstrong spoke on the success that has been had in promoting student wellness and the continued work that will be done to support student mental health and reduce stress. The plan outlines training for teachers in social- emotional learning activities, and use of tools such as MindMasters2 and Kids Have Stress Too! Staff will also continue to receive training in suicide prevention, and schools have been supplied visual interactive resources on where to access mental health support for their students. 

In mathematics, the goals are to build student understanding of numbers and ensure pupils progress to using more efficient strategies. Staff explained that the BIPSAW plan will focus on the fundamentals of mathematics, providing students engaging learning experiences, and infusing math into all areas of the curriculum. 

Under the literacy portion of the plan, staff explained that teachers will be encouraged to continue to create engaging learning experiences, match and align instructional strategies that best support individual students in reading and writing, and improve assessment and feedback practices so students can learn. 

Common Assessment Schedule to Support Student Learning Superintendents Jeremy Hobbs and Ron Ferguson updated trustees on the Common Assessment Schedule to Support Student Learning. The pilot project was a response to recent culture survey results, which showed elevated stress levels among students. The pilot took place at Almonte District High School, Char-Lan District High School, North Dundas District High School, and Smiths Falls District Collegiate Institute between January and June of 2019. Teachers and principals accessed “grade level calendars” through Office 365 and used these calendars to see when other teachers had assignments due. Knowing that allowed them to spread assignment deadlines out to reduce pressure on students, in turn lowering stress levels. Feedback indicated that teachers who consistently used the service saw its potential for balancing student workload and for cross-curricular planning. 

2018-19 Graduation Rate Report Superintendent David Coombs presented the annual report on the graduation rate, informing that the UCDSB preliminary graduation rate for 2018-19 is estimated at 86.6 percent – 3.4 percent away from the Board’s 2020 goal of a 90 percent graduation rate. Of students from the 2015/16 cohort slated to graduate this June, the board will need 1731 graduates to reach the board’s long-term goal. The board continues to work towards that long-term goal through several actions including: establishing a district-wide model of school-based Grad Coaches to help struggling students, aligning the work of system-based Grad Coaches with school-based Grad Coaches and student support teams, supporting differentiated instruction, and expanding the use of the Prior Learning Assessment and Review process and Specialist High Skills Major Program to help students succeed. 

Director’s Award of Merit Director Stephen Sliwa announced the winners of the Director’s Award of Merit. These awards are presented to employees who bring the best of themselves to the workplace on a regular basis throughout the year, contributing to a positive, productive, and caring workplace in which employees support each other to achieve important goals for serving and supporting our students and schools. The most recent winners are: Debbie Connell, elementary office administrator, Centennial ’67 Public School; Naomi Gadbois, elementary teacher Pleasant Corners Public School; Jim Lamoureux, elementary teacher, Bridgewood Public School, Jason Perkins, elementary teacher, Westminster Public School; Casie Jones, Labour Relations Specialist, Brockville Board Office; Julie Symonds, vice principal of special education/Section 23, East Regional Education Centre; and Ryan Winter, secondary teacher, Glengarry District High School. Recipients of this award will receive a framed certificate, presented to them during the Board’s Celebration Night in June 2020, and their name and photo will be featured as part of a display at the Board Office.

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