We believe that for our students, the ladder of success is best climbed by stepping on the rungs of opportunity. At the Waterloo Region District School Board, our goal is to extend that ladder to each and every student. To provide them with effective and individualized support along the way, and to offer a helping hand so that all our students graduate on to their chosen pathway, and reach the top rung of their own ladder.
Traditionally, progress has been viewed as a series of successes toward a specific goal. But we know that the real journey to success is not that straightforward. Triumph is often found by building on, and learning from, our moments of defeat – this is the surest path to our ultimate goal. Success takes planning, preparation, adjustments and perseverance. It challenges us to be vulnerable as we identify our weaknesses and overcome our fears. Believing that our efforts will result in success gives us the resilience to keep climbing, to keep reaching.
At the WRDSB, our staff and our students are now beginning to see the results of their hard work. Three years ago, we committed to increasing our graduation rates by five per cent, by 2020. Our goal was ambitious but necessary. We are proud to announce that we have realized significant improvements in our graduation rates and are close to reaching our five per cent goal.
As a result of our incredible staff, dedicated students and focus on our Strategic Plan, the percentage of students who graduated has increased by more than four per cent. This upward trend only further motivates us to set our sights higher and continue our climb towards our ultimate goal: a 100% graduation rate. Whether our students are headed to the workplace, to an apprenticeship, to university, to college, independent living, or community support, every student deserves the opportunity to experience success and be celebrated.
We have learned a great deal on our journey thus far. We know that each rung of the ladder must offer our students an inclusive, safe and caring environment. Most importantly, every student must feel a strong sense of belonging so that they may climb the ladder with resilience, pride and confidence.
At the heart of our pathways to graduation strategy is a comprehensive, Kindergarten to Grade 12 approach, which employs data to identify students who struggle early-on and determines contributing factors that may later prevent students from graduating. We have implemented school improvement plans focused on equity and inclusion, and honouring students’ lived experiences, while addressing barriers to success.
For some, the ladder of success is not a straightforward journey, it involves bumps and moments of instability, steps back, and pauses for a more solid footing. What counts most is that our students know that the entire system is behind them, steadying the ladder, cheering them on and encouraging them to take the next step.
We know that if they go rung by rung, one step at a time, they will look toward the future knowing they can achieve their full potential and that they have the ability to reach the top.
We hope it’s crowded up there.