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Board Highlights (January 2018)

January 19, 2018

Notes from the January 17, 2018 Regular (Public) Meeting of the South East Cornerstone Public School Division (SECPSD) Board of Education​

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Instructional Technology Report

Jeff Walters, now in his fifth month as the new Coordinator of Instructional Technology (I.T.), caused quite a stir at the January 17th public board meeting when he kicked off his I.T. report with the surprise appearance of special guest, I.T. Consultant Grant Taylor, who rolled into the board room from his office in Carlyle and briefly interacted with board members via a telepresence robot, a remote-controlled iPad tablet perched on a stalk with two large wheels plus two tiny legs at the bottom for stability.  The Double showcased how technology can provide a physical presence when you cannot be somewhere in person.  Such a device may prove to serve multiple purposes in an educational setting pertaining to, for example, learning opportunities for home-bound students and professional development.

Walters explained that his department focuses on "all things technology" and provides vision and leadership regarding educational technology and the four C's (needed skills) for 21st century learning (communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity), by taking what the teachers and students are working on and enhancing it through technology. A new initiative underway is to identity and establish EdTech leaders across the division as a way to continue to support and build capacity within each school.  The goal is to grow the leaders and provide resources and materials for them to have on hand to assist in training to meet in-house technology needs and to provide an opportunity for collaboration among schools while exploring best practices in Ed Tech.  Their work will focus on helping with period and end of semester reporting, Hour of Code and SECPSD's Learning Fair which will be provided via online presentations prepared by teachers which connect to their respective school's improvement plan.

The I.T. report indicated that as at December, 2017 there were about 520 students enrolled in Cyber Stone Virtual School with PAA being one of the most accessed courses. Statistics were provided with respect to SECPSD's e-Library (approximately 1,100 resources available for students) and the Board was given a quick peak at the SECPSD PD Hub (online professional development resources) which offers a growing selection of modules for staff to access as individuals, groups or entire school staffs.

Walters replaces long-time colleague Dr. Peggy Lawson who, although recently retired from the school division, still touches base with approximately 1,000 SECPSD students through her EdTech work with Coding Quest, a Learning Partnership program incorporated into school curricula, where students work with teachers to create their own computer games in the classroom via coding, creative thinking and STEM skills.  As stated by The Learning Partnership, "Coding Quest provides an opportunity for students to develop their coding skills and empowers them to compete in Canada's increasingly digitalized workforce."

Student Services Report

A report provided to the Board by Tracey Kiliwnik, Coordinator of Learning Supports, and Cheryl Anderson, Coordinator of Student Services, updated the Board with respect to SECPSD's student success process to identify students' needs, whether academic or behavioral, and support services for all students through a needs-based service delivery model as well as a response to intervention model which provides responsive instruction, interventions and supports at the classroom and school level through targeted and group approaches and, when required, intensive individual supports. Their work aligns with the Ministry of Education's student first approach to education that puts the student front and centre.

Both presenters explained their areas of responsibility including working with an inter-professional collaborative team to assess and support learners, the actual services provided, personnel and priorities, with Anderson overseeing Tier 1 and 2 interventions and Kiliwnik responsible for Tier 3 interventions, intensive needs students and support of Quality Behaviour Solutions (QBS).  They expounded on the intent of implementing and actualizing a needs based model and spoke of the student success profile –an evergreen collaborative document used to gather information in order to streamline and guide the student process to ensure success and achievement for all. 

It was reported that all students are supported through differentiated and responsive instruction reflective of their needs. Kiliwnik stated, "Everything used to be based on a medical model so that if you had a diagnosis that's when you received the support but now we look at every individual child and we look at what they need to be successful" regardless of whether interventions are required for a short period of time or longer.  "Students are provided inclusive opportunities to reach their full potential," she added.  The student success profile supports planning in order to know where a difference has been made in closing gaps and meeting the needs of students. The focus is not on the weaknesses a student experiences; it is now more strengths based.  The two Coordinators expressed gratefulness for the strong partnerships that have been built with community agencies and services such as mental health, social services, justice, medical practitioners and settlement workers in schools in support of students. 

Anderson explained the traits of an inclusive practice focus stating that SECPSD "focuses on the strengths, needs and interests of the student while fostering an attitude of respect, appreciation and acceptance of diversity," and emphasized the importance of students learning by watching others model actions such as opening a textbook or picking up a pen.  She said one inclusion focus is independence so that when students leave the school system they are able to be contributing members of society.  Several pieces of data were provided pertaining to intensive need students, English as an Additional Language (ELA) students and Review 360 which is a solution that helps staff reduce suspensions and generally improve the school climate through the implementation of anti-bullying initiatives and behavior tracking plans to increase positive behaviour.  In addition, data was shared regarding a new partnership with Holy Family school division which began in April, 2017 to have settlement workers in schools, resulting in 56 families (129 students) receiving assistance.  Also reported was the establishment of gay/straight alliances in 19 SECPSD physical schools as well as one online through Cyber Stone Virtual School.

This past year the school division received funding allocated to "Jordan's Principle" for First Nations students age 6-17.  The initiative "aims to make sure First Nations children can access all public services in a way that is reflective of their distinct cultural needs … without experiencing any service denials, delays or disruptions related to their First Nations status."  Funding for ten families in the 2017-2018 fiscal year was received, with funding to increase next year.

SECPSD 2016-2017 Annual Report

Director of Education Lynn Little took the opportunity to share aspects of SECPSD's 2016-2017 annual report that was tabled by the Ministry of Education in December, pointing out that CFO Shelley Toth reported on the financial statements during the November, 2017 board meeting.  Little expressed appreciation for the engagement and leadership of school community councils and in particular their contribution to the prevention of a summer slide in reading among students.  The high level report drew attention to data pertaining to goals and results for reading, First Nations graduation rates and early years domain achievements, all portraying that the school division is on track to meet its goals.  As well, she stated that under sector-wide efficiencies reporting, SECPSD reported efficiency savings through findings and realignment of positions in the amount of $677,389 over the course of last year.

Correspondence

Audrey Trombley, Board Chair, was pleased to share correspondence from the Deputy Minister of Education, announcing the appointment of Susan Nedelcov-Anderson as Assistant Deputy Minister of Education, a role in which she will continue her work on curriculum renewal and the implementation of the Education Sector Strategic Plan.  Nedelcov-Anderson spent over twenty years employed in Saskatchewan school divisions with the most recent position being curriculum coordinator for SECPSD, prior to accepting employment with the Ministry of Education four years ago with the Student Achievement and Supports branch.

Articles by Norm Park

Articles submitted by Norm Park, contracted reporter for SECPSD, are available at these links:

Instructional Technology, Student Services.

​Upcoming Meetings

     February 28, 2018Committee-of-the-Whole Board Meeting
     February 28, 2018Regular (Public) Board Meeting

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For more information, please contact:

South East Cornerstone Public School Division

80A-18th Street N.E., Weyburn, SK S4H 2W4

Telephone:  (306) 848-0080

Website: www.secpsd.ca

Email:  contactus@secpsd.ca