Board Meeting Highlights - April 25, 2023
Earth Week Celebration, Activities and an Award!
Communications Manager Chera Longston, on behalf of Superintendent April Smith, shared that a number of social media posts were published during the week leading up to Earth Day on April 22. These posts were based on the personal reflections of members of the AMDSB Environmental Committee, the AMDSB Indigenous Education Advisory Committee (IEAC) and a group of AMDSB Lighthouse Learners for Outdoor Education on their “Ecosystems of Influence” (areas of life where each of us can make and take positive environmental action). In addition, Indigenous Elders of Treaty 29 were consulted to help with language and wording, as we continually reflect on our relationship with, and commitment to taking care of, Mother Earth.
Throughout the week, AMDSB students, staff and community were encouraged to showcase ways that they take and/or make positive environmental action within their various “Ecosystems of Influence.”
Chair of the Board Nancy Rothwell also shared that 70 Grade 11 and 12 Environment Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) students from Goderich District CI, Stratford District SS, St Marys DCVI, along with interested Grade 9-12 eco club students, participated in an Eco Conference on Saturday April 22 (Earth Day). A number of workshops were hosted, including:
- A GIS workshop about planning reforestation efforts, specifically designing wetland habitats and the importance of elevation and soil structure (Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority).
- A hands-on healthy soil workshop that taught students about nutrients, soil particles, texture, and a test of microbial activity of soil using cotton underwear (Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs).
- A workshop about deforestation and how a healthy tree cover in a district can help reduce carbon, noise pollution and smell, and produce habitats for healthy biodiversity. Perth County has 9% tree cover and Huron County has 14% (it should be about 30%).
They also heard from a wide range of speakers: Reimagine (package-free grocery store and re-fillery on a zero-waste lifestyle), Sylvia Plan (owner and operator of the Great Lakes Canoe Journey Education Program) and Mike Schreiner (Ontario Green Party Leader, who spoke about positive green local action and answered many questions).
Superintendent Laura Marotta was proud to announce that Stratford District SS Eco Club (Deep Roots) was awarded the pivotgreen.ca grand prize for the Canadian Youth Climate Action Award. This award was established to recognize the efforts of youth across Canada who are implementing sustainable, intergenerational, impactful solutions to the climate crisis. The group of grades 10 to 12 students built an intergenerational garden on their school site in order to flip the script on cutting grass, and are instead cultivating vegetable and berry plants. Way to go!
AMDSB Educator Laura Bross Wins Literacy Leader of the Year Award
Laura Bross, a teacher at Brookside Public School, has been awarded the International Dyslexia Association of Ontario’s Literacy Leader of the Year Award. This award is designed to recognize the efforts of extraordinary educators and professionals in Ontario who are demonstrating leadership in advancing literacy education in their communities. In particular, it celebrates teachers who are committed to implementing the recommendations from the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s Right to Read Inquiry.
Hundreds of exceptional Ontario educators were nominated and Ms Bross’ colleagues recognized that her skills and knowledge play a significant role in improving equity and outcomes for students. She has led a grassroots movement in her school and is committed to ensuring every learner's right to read is honoured. She is also a leader within her school community, developing and delivering structured literacy professional development for colleagues to ensure equitable access to exemplary early literacy instruction for all students. Congratulations, Ms. Bross!
LDSS School Council Hosts Engaging Book Study
Board Chair Nancy Rothwell shared that the Listowel District SS School Council recently completed their book study of "Me and White Supremacy" by Layla F. Saad. The project was a follow-up activity to the parent engagement night that they organized last school year with funds from a Parent Reaching Out grant. The group provided reflections on their experience and all felt that this was ‘life changing’ and that they have a new lens on the world around them, as well as a genuine desire to do better. Overall they highly recommend that other school councils, parents and staff read this book and encourage participation in book studies.
Blyth Art Festival Showcases Secondary School Artists
Trustee Robert Hunking was pleased to share that the Blyth Festival Art Gallery has returned since being on hiatus since 2019. The Gallery is showcasing student artists and is available for in-person viewings until May 5. Huron Citizen news article.
SDSS Student Drama Club Win Award
Trustee Whittaker was pleased to share that the Stratford District SS Drama Club participated in the National Theatre School Drama Festival in Blyth. The cast and crew were led by teacher Andrew Linley and worked tirelessly on their production of Alan Haehnel’s Property Rites, a play about the risks of artificial intelligence. The club received three awards: award of Excellence given to Eden McGaw, Ella Ruby and Violet Shipway for their Achievement in Lighting Design and Execution; award of Excellence given to the Ensemble for Choreography, Design and Integrated Performance; and the play was selected as an Outstanding Production. The group will be going to the regional contest in Gravenhurst later this month. Congratulations to the cast and crew!
Update on the Director's Work Plan
Superintendents Cheri Carter and Paul Langis presented information about the Centres for Employment and Learning (CEL). They were joined by Principal Kendra Brohman who shared background information about the CELs and the targets that were met throughout the 2021/2022 school year. They also shared details about the recommendations from the external audit that was conducted in 2022 and the progress that has been made thus far. More information about the CELs and the employment and education services that they provide can be found on their website.
Student Trustee Update
Student Trustee Abigail Peel reported that the student senators hosted a new senator orientation night where they networked and played a game to learn about the board of trustees and senior staff members. They also shared a number of social media posts throughout Earth Week that garnered more Instagram followers. Finally, she reported that the Student Trustees for the 2023/2024 school year will be elected before the May 23 board meeting.
Senior Staff Updates
School Year Calendars for 2023/2024 Now Approved and Posted
Director Lisa Walsh, on behalf of Superintendent April Smith, shared that, after an extensive consultative process, the School Year Calendar for next year has been posted on the board's School Year Calendar page. Final approval from the Ministry of Education is expected in May.
Future Board Meetings
Meetings that include Regular Sessions will be hosted in person at the Education Centre in Seaforth (62 Chalk St. N.) with the option for connecting online. Members of the public are welcome to attend the Regular Board Meeting sessions (in person or online). Meeting details (including online meeting links and agenda packages) are posted on the Board Meeting page.
- Tuesday, May 9, 2023: Committee of the Whole, Open Session
- Tuesday, May 23, 2023: Committee of the Whole, Closed Session at 4:45 p.m. and Regular Board Meeting at 6:00 p.m.
- Tuesday, June 13, 2023: Committee of the Whole, Closed Session at 4:45 p.m. and Regular Board Meeting at 6:00 p.m.
- Tuesday, June 27, 2023: Committee of the Whole, Closed Session and Regular Board Session at 3:00 p.m.
Future Meetings/Events with Trustee Representation
- Special Education Advisory Committee – Wednesday, May 3, 2023 at 4:00 p.m.
- Joint Health & Safety Committee – Thursday, May 25, 2023 at 1:30 p.m.
- Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act – Wednesday, June 7, 2023 at 3:00 p.m.
- Equity Steering Committee – Wednesday, June 7, 2023 (time to be confirmed)
- Parent Involvement Committee – Wednesday, June 7, 2023 at 6:30 p.m.
- AMDSB Recognition Reception – Wednesday, June 14, 2023 (more details to follow)
- Municipal Partners Meeting – Thursday, June 22, 2023 at 3:00 p.m. (more details to follow)