We celebrate the contributions from our diverse community of staff and students. Supporting these perspectives in our schools is an important part of student achievement and well-being.
Our Equity and Inclusion Policy underscores our commitment to providing inclusive programs, curriculum and services. We strive to create an environment for our students and staff that values independence, dignity, inclusiveness and respect. We are continually making improvements to remove barriers in our schools so that all students and staff experience a sense of belonging.
This thinking was exemplified by the work of Niki Kazemzadeh, an elementary music teacher at Millen Woods Public School. While pursuing her Masters of Arts degree in Community Music at Wilfrid Laurier University (WLU), she offered a number of professional development sessions for music educators in the WRDSB, focused on the integral role music educators play in creating inclusive learning spaces, striving to decolonize their classrooms and the opportunity they have to build strong relationships with students throughout their academic career.
“We have a really important job to do,” said Kazemzadeh. “All educators, all people, need to take time to learn, unlearn and challenge what they think they know.”
Whether it is high tech innovation, or social innovation that is changing our society and communities to become better places to live, work and raise a family – we know our purpose as a public school district is to inspire our students to see the potential in themselves to contribute in a meaningful way to their community.
Students and staff at Howard Robertson Public School in Kitchener put this thinking into action, with their project that planted ten trees in Kinzie Park in partnership with Love My Hood and the City of Kitchener. The grade 5 and 6 students will be caring for the trees over the next two years, and are learning how they can make their community a better place, while also helping the environment.
“We’re just planting trees, having fun, helping the community,” said Ryan, a student at Howard Robertson. “It’s a good feeling to help the community.”
From Kindergarten through to Grade 12, we are innovating the way we teach and learn, so that our students can become the next generation of innovators. We foster a culture where new ideas are welcomed and considered. We want to build our student’s capacity to think critically and problem-solve creatively.
Students at Southwood Secondary School in Cambridge brought the bookshelf to the hallway. Members of the Paint a Book Club painted lockers to look like the spines of books to inspire their peers to pick up a book and bring a splash of colour to the hallways.
“Over the years I have created a learning environment that celebrates literature…so the locker project was a natural extension from that,” said English teacher Kathryn McPherson, who led the project.
This spirit of innovation continued to Ed Piva’s Grade 8 class at Linwood Public School who learned about building their own paths to reconciliation by studying the journey Chanie Wenjack took 50 years ago. Piva’s wood carvings, inspired by Gord Downie and the story of Wenjack, are featured at the Legacy Space at Rogers headquarters in Toronto. It’s dedicated to raising awareness and understanding of Indigenous art, history and culture with employees and community members.
“What I do as an educator in school and outside of school should be the same,” he said. “That’s what an educator does. They lead the way.”