Education: 2016 in Review

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Image source: gettyimages.ca

BY KATHY MCDONALD

I am writing this article in disbelief that this is my final article for the year 2016. It appears that as “mi quint” (I blinked) and I am getting ready to usher in 2017.

There were so many positive and encouraging occurrence that happened in education this year in Ontario. At the Peel District School Board (PDSB) we have certainly several reasons to celebrate. First and foremost, the graduation rates continue to climb, modern learners are empowered with a new vision for twenty first century teaching and learning and our EQAO scores continue their upward trend for English Language Learners. There was a pause on the closure of elementary French and music rooms in the PDSB.

Syrian Refugees started attending school. It was amazing to meet some of these children who were obviously school aged but had never been inside a formal learning institution. Meeting their families and hearing their stories, through a translator of course and having to allay mothers’ fears. Mothers who were not comfortable leaving their kids in another care for fear that they may never see their child again. Seems surreal that a simple act of dropping off a child to school, an act performed by thousands of parents each day, can trigger such unimaginable anxiety.

The highlight for me was voicing my support for an initiative that I have been vocal and passionate about the moment I became a Trustee: The We Rise Together Action Plan. This bold new action plan is still evolving and was unanimously approved by the Board. Just in case you missed it. This plan is the PDSB attempt at inclusion for all students including Black boys. The purpose of the action plan is to identify, understand, minimize and eliminate the marginalization experienced by Black students. When I started this journey I truly never thought ​​that I would be able to confidently say that the Director’s office and senior administration are genuinely committed to this cause. I attended the first consultation and heard the pain, frustration and cynicism of the community. However, I also hear the hope, optimisms and the willingness of community leaders as well as parents to partner with the Board and right a wrong. The work has begun. It may be in its infancy but it has begun. Remember any journey begins with the first step. Parents also significant is your role in your child’s education. We need you: your child’s first teacher and your child’s most valuable teacher.

Britannia Farms Master Plan Refresh was unanimously approved by the Board at its final meeting for the year. This innovative and thoughtful plan serves as a roadmap to developing a world class outdoor learning center while incorporating practical and sustainable projects to ensure that generations to come will be able to get hands on experience learning about the environment, history, agriculture as well as many other cross curricular learning opportunities. It is particularly significant that the programs operated on this land will not only benefit PDSB students but any individual that wants to learn.

Aylesbury, Castle Oaks, Churchville and Springbrook public schools celebrated their official school openings. While James Grieve Public School, located at 12175 Bramalea Rd. in Caledon and Jean Augustine Secondary School, located at 500 Elbern Markell Dr. in Brampton actually opened for the first time on September the 6th.The former caters to kindergarten to grade 8 while the latter is officially a high school. Walking into this building on the first day of school made “mi glad bag buss”. I was filled with pride for this daughter of the Caribbean, an immigrant nanny now a stalwart of the Caribbean and Black community.

The beginning of the school year saw two new partnerships come to fruition. PDSB and GTA Prep, a basketball academy joined forces and now have a well-received program which is being offered at Mississauga Secondary School. Clarkson Secondary School began hosting students in the World Swimming League prep program.

After reading all this good, I mean great news in education at the PDSB one can’t help but be excited and encouraged about the future in education for our children. There is a wind of change, a positive movement that’s sweeping across the PDSB and it’s so infectious that all Boards will soon buy into this progressive movement. Parents we need you to partner with us and be part of the solution. Hold us accountable as we sincerely strive to make your children be the best that they can be.
Christmas time has always been a special to me as our family celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. It is a time that we are surrounded by our family, friends and those near and dear to us. In a diverse Board such as the PDSB, many students will be celebrating a holy day be it Christmas, Chanukah, Birth of Guru Gobind Singh, The Enlightenment of Sakyamuni Buddha, Luut’aa or Kwanza, to name a few. I would encourage everyone to take some time to unwind, refresh and get ready to journey with me in 2017 as we continue to inspire success, confidence and hope in all students. So Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays. Walk Good! Belle Marché.

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