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Director’s Annual Report 2021-2022

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The 2021-22 was a challenging yeDirector Visit 2021ar for so many in our communities. We continued to work together through the pandemic, while continuing to focus on our priorities of achieving excellence, ensuring equity, promoting well-being and enhancing public confidence. These priorities were evident in all areas of our work, within schools and departments, with a focus on every staff member working toward the common purpose of serving the students of the Upper Grand District School Board.

The 2021-22 school year was also characterized by some exciting changes. I was deeply honoured to be selected to take on the role of Director of Education, following the retirement of the venerable long-serving Director, the late Martha Rogers. 

Throughout the year, we turned our focus to the themes of re-engage, refresh, and re-imagine. Re-engaging with students, families and staff in their achievement and well-being; refreshing our good solid practices following two years of disruption; and re-imaging public education, with what is possible to better serve our students and families. 

Please continue reading for just some examples of how we moved forward in alignment with our key priorities.

Achieving Excellence

Achieving Excellence is about many things, central to all of which is the importance of centering the needs of the individual student, through wrap-around supports, differentiated learning, student-centred approaches. 

Each child has their own unique interests, goals and strengths. Every student should have the same opportunity to succeed and graduate from high school. The UGDSB is working to improve the learning experience for all students. We share a common goal — to help all students build a promising future for themselves.

Early Reading Teachers Creating Pathways To Success Director Visit Dec 9 2021 CCVI

Student Success and Learning Interventions

Student Pathways and Transitions

Student Centred Instructional Tool

The UGDSB launched a phased plan focused on student success and intervention, to provide support to students facing learning gaps caused by the pandemic. The plan focuses on students with the highest needs as a result of the learning disruption caused by the pandemic, with a focus on literacy and numeracy needs. At the UGDSB, we are committed to all students, K-12+, having equitable opportunities to explore and experience diverse pathway options. Through these opportunities, we aim to support student optimism for a rich and vibrant future, regardless of which initial pathway they choose, and how their plans might shift and change throughout their lives. “Kids do well if they can.” (Ross Green) If we believe this to be true, then we need to interpret struggle as a sign of a student requiring care, support and understanding – driving us to learn more. That means focusing our next steps on how we engage in learning about this struggle to inform how we can best support a student’s success in developing their skills/considering changes in our instructional practices. UGDSB staff developed and implemented the Student Centred Instructional Tool to drive this work forward in our classrooms.

Ensuring Equity

As an educational community we have a responsibility to identify and describe racism and oppression and then work to dismantle it. The Upper Grand District School Board is committed to disrupting systemic racism and oppression in all of its forms. We will implement ongoing mandatory anti-racism and anti-oppression training for all staff, review our protocols and policies, including our hiring practices, and be fully transparent and accountable to all Upper Grand students, staff, families, and stakeholders in an ongoing manner.

The Upper Grand District School Board’s Three-Year Equity Plan (2019-2022) drives our commitment to safe and inclusive practice. The plan is divided into four main sections:

Pride Palmerston Norwell 1 CDDHS Black Brilliance Conference 2022 Period Equity Poster V1

Updated Equity and Inclusive Education Policy

Black Brilliance Conference

Period Equity

During the 2021-22 school year, the UGDSB updated Policy 504 Equity and Inclusive Education. The UGDSB is committed to the principles of equity through inclusive and culturally responsive programming, services, and operations in accordance with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Ontario Human Rights Code, and the Education Act. The UGDSB values all students, employees, and families, regardless of age, ancestry, colour, race, citizenship, ethnic origin, place of origin, creed, ability, family status, marital status, gender identity, gender expression, socio-economic status, employment, housing, sex, and sexual orientation, and is committed to creating and maintaining a learning and working environment where everyone can participate fully, thrive, and reach their full potential, free from trauma, bias, stereotyping, oppression and systemic racism. The UGDSB recognizes that many identities do not exist in a single form and are often intersecting with multiple identities. Intersectionality can create a compounding impact on oppression, discrimination and racism.  In May, the students of Centre Dufferin District High School’s Black Chapter showed how brilliant they truly are by organizing a day of workshops and exercises for their Black Brilliance conference. What took months of preparation and hard work turned into a day of success. The CDDHS’s Black Chapter invited and hosted other Black Chapters from neighbouring schools in the UGDSB. The Conference featured an opening ceremony, guest presentations, workshops led by different Black Chapter members, and more. CDDHS’s Black Chapter and other Black Chapters across the UGDSB are spaces where students across the African diaspora have carved out a space for themselves to feel safe and to discuss issues that impact the Black community all over the world. Period Equity is a movement that refers to making sure that all people who menstruate are able to access menstrual products for free and with dignity. It is a movement that recognizes the financial burden placed on people who menstruate by ensuring products are available for all who require them. In partnership with various departments and staff in the UGDSB, the Period Equity program began with an opportunity to understand the inequities that exist for people who menstruate. Now, there are accessible machines that dispense free menstrual products in every “For Use by All” single stall washroom in all of our UGDSB schools and offices. Machines and products are in place in all “For Use By All” single stall washrooms  so that all students, staff and community members can access the products regardless of age, ability, sex, gender or status in the school.

Promoting Well-Being

At the UGDSB, we strive to promote healthy schools, where staff, parents/guardians, students, and community partners work together to share, plan and take action to create a learning environment that has a positive impact on students’ health, well-being and learning. Wrap-around student supports at the UGDSB include both school and board based staff, focused on supporting proactive and responsive student-centred classroom strategies.  Ongoing collaboration alongside classroom teaching staff is a priority in the UGDSB to ensure staff feel they have the tools and resources they need to support the students they serve.  Mentoring, coaching, clinical supports, and specialized teams are all key services in place for staff in their work with students, families and community partners.

Web Tile   Wellness Works Elora PS Outdoor Learning Nov 12 2020 Bullying

Mental Health and Well-Being Strategy

COVID-19 Health and Safety Protocols

Bullying Prevention, Intervention and Reporting

Ensuring positive student mental health is a shared responsibility of students, staff, parents/guardians and community partners. As part of the provincial Open Minds, Healthy Minds Mental Health Strategy, the UGDSB’s Mental Health and Student Support staff work with stakeholders within our board and in our community, to promote: mentally healthy schools; student mental well being; educator mental health awareness and knowledge; evidence based prevention programs; and clear pathways to care. Throughout the pandemic, the UGDSB implemented layers of protective health and safety measures. These layers included protocols around distancing, respiratory etiquette and hand washing/sanitization, enhanced cleaning protocols, enhancements and investments in ventilation and air quality, personal protective equipment, placing more More 2,500 High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter units in all UGDSB classrooms and staff eating areas, absence tracking, deploying rapid antigen tests and more. In the 2021-22 school year, the UGDSB updated its Safe Schools Policy. The UGDSB recognizes that bullying is a serious issue that has far-reaching consequences. Bullying adversely affects: a school’s ability to educate its students; a student’s well-being and ability to learn; the dignity and self-esteem of students who are bullied, and; school climate, including healthy relationships. For several years the board has had a Report Bullying Online Tool, which is available to UGDSB students in every grade – victims or witnesses – to report incidents at any time, from anywhere. With the update of the Safe Schools Policy, the UGDSB refreshed the Bullying Prevention resources and information available on the UGDSB website and worked to communicate widely how to make a report and the steps that are taken once a report is made.

Enhancing Public Confidence

Throughout the 2021-22 school year, the board continued its commitment to enhancing public confidence in the education system. Through the careful stewardship of the board’s resources, to a commitment to transparency and communication, and keeping the well-being and achievement of students as our top priority, the board continued to build trust and enhance relationships within our school communities.

Policy Stock Image Water Lake Stock Image UGDSB Multi Year Plan Logo

Anti-Sex Trafficking Protocol

H2Awesome! Water Conference

Multi-Year Plan

Throughout the school year, the UGDSB regularly reviews and updates Board Policies, Procedures and Protocols to ensure they are relevant, up to date, and aligned with our practices and values. During a review process, the board consults with a number of groups, communicates about opportunities for collaboration or public consultation, and posts draft and final documents on the public-facing UGDSB website, ensuring transparency. One important protocol that was implemented in the 2021-22 school year was the Anti-Sex Trafficking Protocol, which was approved in January and rolled out through the system with dedicated staff training. The UGDSB continued to place importance on environmental learning and sustainable practices throughout the 2021-22 school year. Just one example of the learning happening in schools around environmental sustainability was the annual H2Awesome! Water Conference. H2Awesome! is an annual event for intermediate students that celebrates the gift of water. The event allowed grade 7 and 8 students to learn about the importance of water and water conservation. More than 1,000 UGDSB students took part in the various events at the conference, which was held over a five-week period beginning March 22. The conference was intentionally planned to begin on World Water Day and end on Earth Day to help students to spend an extended amount of time focused on environmental learning that also supported their own reflection and connection to water. Another key tenet of enhancing public confidence in the public education system is through establishing a Multi-Year Plan with clear priorities and values, and working actively to achieve goals laid out to support those priorities. Another part of this is reporting to our communities the progress made on this work. In the 2021-22 the UGDSB approved a new Multi-Year Plan, and communicated frequently throughout the progress of its development. In the early part o f the 2022-23 school year, the UGDSB will develop action plans that will help guide our decisions, resources, supports and actions over the next four years.