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Director’s Annual Report 2022-2023

Annual Report Banner 2022 2023

Student sits with Director of Education in a classroom

The 2022-23 school year was an exciting return to many beloved events and activities in the Upper Grand DSB. I was grateful for all the time I was able to spend in our schools this year, meeting with students and staff, and continually in awe of their efforts. I know the school year often comes with ups and down, and my sincere hope is that through family, friends, educators, school staff members, and community, students have support and joy in finding your unique path. We are committed as a school board to supporting all students and know that each person’s path will look different. By putting students at the centre of what we do and focusing our work around our priorities of foundational education, love of learning, health and well-being, equity and sustainability, we are well positioned to realize Vision 2026, of being recognized as leaders in creating unparalleled, agile, and inclusive learning experiences for all. Students will continue to be the inspiration for this work. Please continue reading for just a few examples of how we moved forward in alignment with our key priorities.

Foundational Education and Student Achievement

We will provide all our students with rich learning in core reading, writing and mathematics. We will support our students in achieving their unique academic goals. We will equip students with the skills they need to be successful in whatever path they choose. 

A man in a pink shirt stands at a microphone with a presentation screen behind him. Creating Pathways To Success Early Reading

Multi-Year Plan

Student Pathways and Transitions

Early Reading Supports

Throughout the 2022-23 school year, we continued to see the roll-out and implementation of the 2022-2026 Multi-Year Plan in action. Through focusing on our five key priorities, we made progress this year in realizing Vision 2026: To be recognized as leaders in creating unparalleled, agile, and inclusive learning experiences for all. Let’s GO! is our plan of action, where we will accomplish ambitious goals through attainable outcomes. We held several meetings throughout the year with all System Leaders on both the school and business side of the board to start putting the pieces of this plan into place. This work will continue in the coming school years, in our classrooms, schools and departments. At the Upper Grand DSB, 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. An intense focus in our board this year was examining student transitions, specifically the transition from Grade 8 into high school. Throughout the year we had invigorating conversations and learning, and valuable visits to schools to get hands-on experiences of how all school support students in their different transitions and on their different paths.  In early 2022, the Ontario Human Rights Commission released the “Right to Read” report with recommendations that outlined the Science of Reading practices to benefit all students. The UGDSB hired 25 Early Reading Teachers (ERT) were hired to provide intervention support to students who were struggling in Grades 1 and 2. ERTs were assigned to schools for an 8-week cycle and provided small group reading instruction focused on phonemic awareness and phonics skills. Results from the ERT intervention cycles have shown that students struggling with early reading skills as a result of disruptions to learning during the pandemic or due to learning difficulties, benefited significantly from the supports. The ERTs also played an essential role in modelling instructional practices to early Primary teachers and along with our Early Reading Program Lead, demonstrated use of the UGDSB reading scope and sequence and Science of Reading strategies to support implementation across our system.

Inspire a Lifelong Love of Learning

We will stimulate each learner’s innate curiosity and desire to expand their knowledge and understanding of the world. We will inspire ambition and drive to explore – academically, socially and emotionally.

Empowerment Day 2023 A photo of the interior of the UGDSB's Innovation Lab, showing a green screen and camera rig. Elem Skills 2023 3

Empowerment Day

Innovation Lab

Skills Development

On May 4, 2023, for the first time since before the COVID-19 pandemic, 5,000 students gathered in Guelph’s Sleeman Centre to celebrate Empowerment Day 2023. Empowerment Day has a rich history in the UGDSB as an event led by students, for students. Students from across the Upper Grand in grades 5 to 8 heard from inspiring keynote speakers and their fellow peers about this year’s theme: “Why not now? Going Outside Your Comfort Zone.” “We want students to challenge themselves to make a positive difference within their schools and communities. Reflect on their beliefs and ways in which they personally feel they can improve,” said Elora Public School teacher, Andy Speers. The event was organized and led by students from Elora PS. It was an amazing day that had been missed by all in the board over the past few years. 

The UGDSB Innovation Lab is a ground breaking initiative that emerged in the wake of the pandemic, signalling a shift toward transformative learning practices. Established in February 2023, it stemmed from a visionary approach to understanding the most effective ways for employees to engage in professional development. The lab quickly evolved from concept to reality within a year. This cutting-edge self-service studio empowers users to create captivating video and audio learning modules, as well as professionally produced podcasts. Boasting a steady stream of visitors from both the education and business sectors, the Innovation Lab has become an integral part of the Program Department’s daily operations, while also drawing interest from other departments. The Innovation Lab will continue to evolve to meet the learning needs of not only the UGDSB but other organizations looking to improve learning in their workforce. It stands as a testament to the power of innovative and creative thinking, fostering a culture of continuous improvement and forward-thinking in the organization.  The UGDSB promotes STEM and the Skilled Trades throughout students’ education, in elementary and secondary school. Students have many opportunities to pursue their interests, though classroom instruction, clubs and extracurriculars, training and certifications, and skills competitions. This year on the elementary side, nearly 1,000 students in grades 4-8 competed in the UGDSB’s annual Regional Skills Competition.  This year the competition categories focused on STEM and skilled trades with events including the Construction Challenge, Green Energy, Health and Safety, Lego Mechanics, Lego Robotics, TV and Video Production and Vex Robotics.  Regional, provincial and national competitions were also held for secondary students throughout the year. The competitions are a fun environment that allow students to problem solve, show their creativity and work together, while getting real-world experiences. 

Ensure Equity of Access and Outcomes

We will be explicit that equity is central to every decision made by the UGDSB, at every level within the organization. We will establish equitable access to digital, academic, and developmental opportunities and resources.

A student is pictured in front of a blue TV screen A piece of paper that shows the pattern of the peyote stitch. Stock photo of a woman typing on a laptop computer.

Student Census 2022

First Nations Métis Math Voices Project

Reporting Identity Based Harm

In September 2022, the UGDSB launched the “UGDSB Counts Student Census” for all Upper Grand District School Board students in grades Kindergarten-12. Participation in the Student Census will help the UGDSB make systemic changes that will create more equitable outcomes for all students. The census is a confidential, voluntary survey for all students (K-12) in the Upper Grand District School Board. The goal of the census is to better understand the cultural, social and demographic diversity of our students. The UGDSB recognizes the disproportionate impact on students who are racialized and have identities connected to the margins. The school board will use the results of the survey to better understand these impacts, to make positive change.

The 2022-23 school year saw incredible work by the First Nations Métis Math Voices Project to integrate an Indigenous-focused lens to the math curriculum in schools. The project is under the leadership of Colinda Clyne – Coordinating Principal of Indigenous Education at the UGDSB – who is from the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg nation. The research for this project has involved bringing together an extensive network of community and academic partners, particularly Anishinaabe and Métis leaders, artists and educators, as well as non-Indigenous educators. “We want people to see that there is math inherent in Indigenous technology and art,” said Clyne. During the project Indigenous and non-Indigenous students and educators do this by breaking down the math components (transformational geometry, proportional reasoning, measurement, ratio, spatial reasoning, etc.) in Indigenous art such as hairpipe bracelets, loom beading, beaded medallions, beaded peyote stitch keychains and finger weaving. This year saw the implementation of the UGDSB’s procedures and supports around reporting identity based harm. This included staff professional learning, a reporting system for staff and a new tool for students and parents/guardians to report incidents of identity based harm. We all have an obligation to ensure that all acts of discrimination/oppression/slurs/harm are reported and acted upon in a timely manner. All staff have a duty to report all incidents of Identity-Based-Harm to their supervisors immediately and fill out the Identity-Based-Harm reporting tool. The board’s public facing ‘Report Bullying’ button was updated and is now the ‘Report Identity Based Hard and/or Bullying’ button, which is found on the UGDSB homepage and on all school website homepages.

Champion Health and Well-Being

We will be dedicated to providing accessible mental health resources and supports. We will strive to create learning and working environments that are safe, healthy, and accepting. We will encourage students to advocate for themselves and help develop their abilities to handle what our ever-changing world will throw at them.

Kids are pictured in a classroom painting. diagram of AIM model A picture of a person sitting on a yoga mat, stretching

Keeping Schools Healthy and Safe

Wellness Works

Staff Well-Being

Throughout the school year, the UGDSB continued its work in ensuring healthy learning and working environments. The board continued to make enhancements in school ventilation systems, and all learning spaces, classrooms and staff eating areas continued to operate stand-alone HEPA filter units. The board also resumed daily reporting of school absences. We know how important quick access to information and data is to families, students and staff. By continuing Daily School Absence reporting on the board website, we were able to monitor absenteeism rates and transparently share this information with the public. The UGDSB continued its focus on student mental health and well-being. One example of the work and supports across the system is Wellness Works. UGDSB’s Wellness Works is a resource created by a collaborative committee that includes the UGDSB mental health lead, child and youth counsellors, administrators, educators, Terry James Resource Centre staff, and curriculum leaders. Wellness Works uses monthly themes to support staff in working together – with students, with colleagues, and with the community – on understanding and developing important skills related to wellness through curriculum and instructional practice. The Wellness and Employee Health Department continued to offer various wellness opportunities in both virtual and in-person formats during the 2022-23 school year. More than 630 people participated in the 51 different 4-week programs that were provided at no cost to staff. In response to feedback from staff, programs were adjusted to reflect areas of interest, including options such as Yoga, Pilates, STRONG, Zumba, Dance Fit, Bootcamps, Mindfulness, Meditation and Nutrition programs. The board continued its partnerships with various providers, which allows us to offer a range of personal wellness opportunities focusing on areas such as stress management, better sleep, curbing worry, and increasing personal resilience. We continue to promote the various wellness programs, along with access to the Employee and Family Assistance Program as a way to help support, improve and maintain the health and wellness of all UGDSB staff.

Lead through Sustainability

We will lead climate action initiatives and benchmark ourselves against the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. We will live by sustainable stewardship and aspire to make positive change in our community and environment.

Earth Month TJRC 2 New Boilers at Cent. Hylands ES Online Meeting

Sustainability and Classroom Resources

Board Energy-Reducing Projects

Commitment to Sustainable Practices

During Earth Month in April, the UGDSB’s Terry James Resource Centre showcased the earth-friendly resources has to offer. The TJRC is the UGDSB’s one-stop-shop for materials and resources for UGDSB staff. The TJRC offers many sustainable resources to students and staff through its classroom books, activity kits, eBooks, the Sora platform, digital videos and many digital resources. The TJRC also focuses on environmentally-friendly practices that eliminate the need for paper or for staff to drive to the Guelph office to have their requests met, and that reuse and recycle old items responsibly. The TJRC also recycles old storage containers to transport new novel sets and maker kits instead of purchasing more.  Over the last year, we continued to aim our energy-reducing projects around boiler plant replacements, LED lighting upgrades, and control system improvements. We introduced Air Source Heat Pump technology. Heat pump technology allows us to heat air using electricity instead of carbon sources. We started the installation of the equipment and this project will continue into the 2023-24 school year. We are estimating an annual reduction of 60,000 kg of CO2. The UGDSB continued to take action to make the board more sustainable through a number of environmentally-focused initiatives. Examples included shifting more meetings to an online or hybrid model to reduce the amount of driving that participants would have to do to attend meetings, developing online professional learning materials that reduced the amount of time staff needed to attend offsite training sessions, again reducing the number of cars on the road, making more processes and documents digital-only to reduce paper consumption, and renewal work in schools and offices that included sustainable features such as the ongoing replacement of lights to LED.