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.”
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.
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.”