May 27, 2022 – Trustees with the Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB) met on Wednesday, May 25, 2022. Some of the items discussed in the public session are as follows.
Executive Superintendent of Innovation and Student Achievement Eric Hardie, along with Kelty Grant, K-12 System Principal for Indigenous Education, presented to Trustees the district’s Board Action Plan for Indigenous Education.
To address a lower-than-average student success factors for Indigenous students, the UCDSB offers several new culturally relevant course opportunities for Indigenous students. One is an after-school credit option available at Cornwall Collegiate and Vocational School in lacrosse, led by a cultural advisor and retired professional player. Students receive a rich experience all while learning about their culture and more.
A second after-school culinary credit option is available to students at St. Lawrence Secondary School. Indigenous guest chefs, both locally and across the country, show students different foods all while adding in important teachings.
Other course offerings and experiences specific to Indigenous students are: Mohawk language, Indigenous leadership course, IDC30/40 and Thompson Island Cultural Camp. The UCDSB is also offering reach-ahead opportunities for students transitioning to UCDSB from AMBE for Grade 9.
Hardie noted that the UCDSB’s self-identified Indigenous student enrolment has increased 9.3 per cent from the end of the 2021 school year. Indigenous students represent 3.23 per cent of the UCDSB student population.
Grant added that the district has made the Indigenous graduation coach position permanent and the UCDSB received funding to hire intermediate and summer Indigenous graduation coaches.
Student Trustees Eshal Ali and Bradford Ward provided an update to the Board regarding their Green Iglu fundraiser. The fundraiser, which ran from April 1 to May 1, was part of the Student Senate’s focus on change and improvement both in and out of the school board. Each UCDSB school raised funds for the charity that works with Indigenous communities in Northern Ontario to help address food security and food sovereignty. The original fundraising goal was $5,000 and, in the end, they nearly doubled it to $9,100.
Superintendent of Schools Susan Rutters presented an update to the Board on the district-wide timetable. All UCDSB secondary schools have common bell times of 8 a.m. to 2:10 p.m. daily. This is in part to provide students equal opportunities to take eLearning courses.
Rutters noted for the 2022-2023 school year, the UCDSB is piloting a mini-consortium opportunity to offer specific course needs that are common to several schools. This will enable students to have equal opportunities and an established structure in UCDSB that provides greater choice and access to courses that interest them.
Director of Education Ron Ferguson reported to Trustees his work plan for the 2022-2023 school year.
In his report, Ferguson noted that the key priorities for the UCDSB will focus on graduation rates and student success, student culture, real-world learning, and staff culture. For graduation rates and student success, the objective for the UCDSB is to improve student success and maintain a 90 per cent graduation rate. Student culture is another priority to enhance student mental and physical health, along with a sense of belonging. Real-world learning to engage students, staff, and community partners in hands-on experiential learning. The final key priority is to ensure all staff feel supported by the district and have the resources to be successful.
Trustees were excited and pleased with the work plan and unanimously approved it for implementation.