Meeting Notes - May 15, 2018

Our Student of the Month is Justin Jewell from Belle River District High School. 

Justin is a caring and giving student who does whatever he can to help his community. He has had serious health concerns and in spite of it all he maintains a positive attitude and his peers love his friendliness and selflessness. Congratulations and thank you to Justin!

We also received Superintendent Jeff Hillman’s Operational Report. Superintendent Hillman is the lead for Leadership in Math as well as our International Languages programming and Parent Engagement. In the area of Leadership in Math, Superintendent Hillman’s work involves developing the effectiveness of teachers and administrators in math education. To a large extent, this involves listening and understanding what their needs are. One method that is being used to develop leadership in math is for teachers to observe how students learn in different classrooms. This allows them to see and reflect on what they might do in their own classrooms as well as talk amongst each other.

GECDSB offers International Language programming to students in grades 1-8 in 15 languages currently including Arabic, Hindi, Italian, Tamil, Serbian, Portuguese, and Korean. In fact, we will support classes in any language as long as there are 25 students and an instructor. Classes are held on Saturday mornings from October to May across three sites, one in the county and two in the city. These classes are a great opportunity to gain knowledge in another language and culture. This year, 817 students were enrolled compared to 683 last year, with a retention rate of about 87%. In terms of program growth opportunities, we are looking at offering ESL classes to parents while their children are participating in the International Language classes, usually matching their own culture.  

There are four areas of focus for Parent Engagement: defining a district PE strategy; PD for district leaders; removing barriers for parents; and the Parent Involvement Committee (GECPIC). A welcoming school and board culture that views parents as partners in problem solving and the learning environment is a necessity for any of this to happen. We try to remove barriers including offering parent materials in multiple languages.

Superintendent Hillman is working closely with GECPIC which acts as the direct line between parents and the board on district-wide issues. This is different from School Councils, which are just as important, and focus at the school level. He gave a portion of his presentation time to Kristen Siapas, the GECPIC Chair. She highlighted the role of GECPIC which consists of 13 parents from the different families of schools (anchored by the district high school); 2 parents from the Indigenous Education Committee; three community representatives (Windsor Police, United Way, New Canadians Centre of Excellence); a trustee; the Director; and a Principal. Some of their focus areas include parent outreach, special education, mental health, and equity and social justice. GECPIC will be instrumental in helping to develop parent engagement strategies.

The next meeting is on June 1. If you are interested in joining GECPIC, applications are open until May 25!

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Jessica Sartori