Strategic Plan

Strategic Plan2021-01-20T16:26:38-05:00

Our students are first – each and every one

Our students experience a sense of belonging in a caring and inclusive learning environment that addresses their well-being.

We are committed to honouring and respecting all of our students by creating an environment where they feel included, valued and treated with dignity. School-based safe caring and inclusive school teams support the promotion of a positive school climate within our schools and community.

You can see examples of this throughout the WRDSB, such as the work Amanpreet Dhaul is doing at Elgin Street Public School in Cambridge. Dhaul’s efforts have highlighted the contributions of all people in Canada’s history, and have helped to ensure the school is a welcoming place for all those who work and learn there.

Our students pursue individual learning pathways that reflect their interests, develop skills for the future and inspire global citizenship.

We believe that schools and staff have an important role to play in innovating the future through the way we are educating our students today. The future is full of new possibilities and advancements, and we want to ensure that our students are prepared for the realities of what the workforce and our world may look like after they graduate. We want to support students in developing critical thinking and independent learning skills that prepare them for their futures.

Vicki Page, a Hairstyling and Aesthetics teacher at Glenview Park Secondary School in Cambridge, reimagined her teaching as schools closed in March 2020 in response to COVID-19, but remained focused on equipping her students with the skills to succeed. This included incorporating a new industry-leading health and safety certification from Barbicide into each of her courses, helping prepare her students for the future.

Our students succeed in reaching their potiential and graduating for WRDSB High Schools and Programs.

Through the introduction of new technology, special programming and customized support, we build students’ confidence as they face the future. It is important to us that every student experiences a caring learning environment that encourages their success. When a student’s optimal learning potential is affected by behavioural, communicative, intellectual or physical exceptionalities, special education support is provided.

Even though we couldn’t come together to celebrate our graduates in the typical ways, we made sure they knew we were no less proud of their incredible achievements. In June 2020, we plastered Waterloo Region with our congratulations for our 2020 graduates. From billboards, to the radio, to the newspaper – our message was everywhere.

In the fall of 2020, our students and their families were invited to take part in virtual graduation ceremonies, customized for each of our 16 secondary schools. Each of our 4,216 secondary graduates was recognized at the ceremonies, which when completed, took up 1.6 terabytes, or more than 1600 gigabytes, is akin to that of a major motion picture.

From across our district, the WRDSB came together to celebrate our secondary graduates virtually – each and every one.

Our culture of innovation builds students’ confidence and success as they face the future

Our learning environments include all students and their diverse perspectives and ideas

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.

Even as our system managed the unprecedented shift to distance learning in March 2020, these goals remained at the forefront of our work, ensuring that all students and staff had the support they needed to continue to learn and work. The efforts of Kimiko Shibata, an English as a Second Language (ESL) and English Literacy Development (ELD), Itinerant Resource Teacher, exemplifies this focus.

During the closure of schools in March, the need for extra supports became especially clear. Quickly seeing the need, Shibata helped to deliver essential items to families in need, such as food, clothing, school supplies, books, passwords and login information or health care and mental health resources – all in the family’s first language through the help of interpreters.

“The pandemic has shown us the inequities and that the most vulnerable people continue to be our most vulnerable,” Shibata explained. “The best thing we have done as a Board once we reopened was taking that first week of school to connect with families – to figure out who needs a device, who needs internet, who needs care – that proactive communication and outreach was so important.”

Our students, staff and community are supported by creative and collaborative problem-solving.

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 at Waterloo Collegiate Institute (WCI) in Waterloo found an innovative way to support their community and bring the school closer together, while respecting health and safety guidelines through the organization of a walk-a-thon.

In October 2020, Walk for Hope at WCI invited students to walk the 9,731 km distance from WCI to Syria in an effort to raise the money needed to sponsor the reunification of a refugee family. The parents and three daughters are safe in Canada, but two of their brothers are in dangerous conditions overseas. They exceeded their expectations, and raised an incredible $15,637.05 to support the effort to reunite this family.

Our school communities are encouraged to learn by exploring new and innovative projects, ideas and approaches.

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.

Our staff leads by example when it comes to innovating, and this was easier to see in 2020 than ever before. Shawn Boyes, a construction technology teacher at Huron Heights Secondary School in Kitchener, demonstrated this in the days following emergency school closures.

Traditional tech and trades are difficult to imagine being taught remotely, but Boyes has used this opportunity to reinvent the way he delivers the essential learnings while keeping it timely and fun. He kept students engaged by posting varied lessons for them to try at home, such as the task of planning out which tools they would purchase to outfit themselves in the real-world.

“The same learning opportunities are available,” said Boyes. “It’s just a different landscape.”

Our staff, families and caregivers are partners in every student’s learning journey

Our families and caregivers are supported in creating the best possible outcomes for our students

We know that our families are partners with us in every student’s learning journey, and we are committed to providing them the resources they need to support their children. As we prepared to return to school in September 2020, we knew that families would benefit from assistance helping to guide their children back to school, and ease their worries in this transition.

WRDSB Psychological Services created a series of guides, including The Caregivers’ Guide to Setting the Stage for Return to School, designed to help caregivers support and communicate with their children in ways that help them feel calm and secure as they return to school. Shifting from the summer break to the school routine is often difficult, but this year was especially so given the length of time students spent away from school.

Our staff is equipped with the skills and resources to support every child in their learning journey.

By embracing an attitude of care and support, we seek to understand and meet the needs of those who we serve. Through reaching out and listening to our community, families and educators, we build collaborative relationships to achieve common goals. Our staff is committed to working collaboratively to advance student achievement in the classroom.

In 2020, supporting student achievement meant also ensuring the health and safety of our students and staff. These efforts are largely thanks to the work of Superintendent of Student Achievement Bill Lemon, who led the responses to cases of COVID-19 our schools and workplaces. Working in close collaboration with Region of Waterloo Public Health, Lemon supports staff as they work to ensure families are notified, schools are cleaned and that learning can continue in a safe environment.

“When I became a superintendent, I never expected to manage this type of work,” said Lemon. “I have learned a whole new language and got to work with some incredible people at Region of Waterloo Public Health.”

Our staff is supported in their wellness as they promote and model wellness for our students

Every student is entitled to beneficial learning environments. We know that students succeed when they feel safe and supported in school. A healthy school climate leads to greater student success. That is why we embrace an attitude of care and support, especially when it comes to our students and staff.

We know that in order to provide support and care for our students, our staff needs to feel supported and cared for, as well. In the wake of emergency school closures in March 2020, we knew that supporting staff mental health and well-being would be critical during this challenging time. Amongst existing staff wellness strategies, we launched Supporting Ourselves, Supporting One Another – a publication designed to offer resources and supports for staff.

Early editions included information on a range of topics, from how to create an ergonomic and safe at-home work environment, to addressing the anxiety that many feel during a global pandemic. Nancy Carse, Manager of Employee Wellness, explained that the publication has allowed staff to access a wide variety of mental health and well-being supports in one place.

“Rather than a flurry of different resources, we’re able to collect them all in one place,” said Carse. “It makes this information a lot more accessible and useful for our staff.”