Board Meeting Highlights - September 14, 2021
Centre for Employment & Learning Celebrates 20 Years!
Superintendent Carter reported that on September 20 the Centre for Employment & Learning will launch their 20th anniversary celebration. They will be celebrating with balloons, signs, website and social postings. They are also inviting Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development and Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services, as well as local members of provincial parliament to join them in their celebrations.
Mental Health and Well-being Main Focus for Return to School
Superintendent Laura Marotta reported that Mental Health and Well-being (MHWB) was a key focus of the board's 3 PA days prior to the start of the school year. Keynote speaker Dr. Jean Clinton, whose address was live streamed to all schools and board sites, guided staff through her talk on “Rise Together to Resilience”. All staff received the message that the first order of business is to welcome students and families back warmly, and to rebuild school families in a safe inclusive environment. In addition, all schools will be receiving MHWB Kits which are full of resources (books, fidgets, games, calming tools/coloring books etc.) and lesson plans that can be used by educators across all grades. Our remote educators will also receive digital versions.
Senior Staff Updates
Transition Plans for Students Returning to School
Superintendent Bruce reported that funding was provided by the Ministry of Education to support students with special education and mental health needs. Staff developed and implemented personalized transition plans between August 16 and 30. This has allowed for a supported return to in-person learning, the creation of personal materials and plans to help students re-adjust to school. Students had an opportunity to visit the school and staff prior to the first day on September 7. A total of 37 schools took advantage of the opportunity, resulting in personalized transition support for 794 students from across the district. Superintendent Bruce expressed his sincere thanks to Special Education Resource Teachers, Educational Assistants, Child and Youth Workers, school and board staff.
Mental Health and Well-being Resources for Students and Families
Superintendent Marotta discussed some of the MHWB resources that have been made available to students and families in response to parent and school council feedback (via the Parent Involvement Committee). This work is also closely connected to the AMDSB Strategic Plan: we nurture a whole system approach to a healthy, safe and caring learning environment and workplace. To support parents/guardians, Mike Masse (Mindful Mike) was contracted to create a number of videos (divided by age group), to help them support their children in dealing with anxiety about returning to school. These videos are posted on our website and were shared via social media.
In addition, World Suicide Prevention Day was acknowledged on September 10. All AMDSB staff are obtaining certification from Living Works called START that teaches trainees to recognize when someone is thinking about suicide and connect them to help and support. To date, 86% have completed the certification with another 11% in progress pointing to a commitment from all our employees to support their students, coworkers, families and friends if they are experiencing feelings of suicide. The feedback from employees was extremely positive and points to us that opportunities exist across our employee groups to ensure MHWB remains a top priority for us as an organization.
Summer Construction Project Update
Superintendent Carter provided a report on the numerous construction projects that occurred in almost all schools throughout the summer. Projects included roofs, ventilation, childcare additions, accessibility, and many other building upgrades. All AMDSB schools were ready to accept students on the first day of School.
Pathways Advisory Committee Continues
Superintendent Morris was happy to report that the Pathways Advisory Committee will continue their valuable work with a meeting on October 5.
Future Board Meetings
- Tuesday, September 28, 2021: Committee of the Whole, Closed Session at 4:00 p.m. and Regular Board Meeting at 6:00 p.m. (via MS Teams)
- Tuesday, October 19, 2021: Committee of the Whole, Open Session at 4:30 p.m. (via MS Teams)
- Tuesday, October 26, 2021: Committee of the Whole, Closed Session at 4:30 p.m. and Regular Board Meeting at 6:00 p.m. (via MS Teams)
Meetings will be hosted online using Microsoft Teams until further notice. Links to join the meetings will be posted on the Board Meeting page.
Future Meetings/Events with Trustee Representation
- Special Education Advisory Committee: September 15, 2021 – 4:00 p.m.
- Supervised Alternative Learning: September 27, 2021 – 8:30 a.m.
- Audit Committee: September 29, 2021 – 5:00 p.m.
- Pathways Advisory Committee: October 5, 2021 – 7:00 p.m.