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Board Highlights (May 2020)

May 22, 2020

​Notes from the May 20, 2020 Regular (Public) Meeting of the South East Cornerstone Public School Division Board of Educationlogo-vertical.jpg

Early Learning Report:  Jacquelene Gibbs, now in her third year as the division's Coordinator for Early Learning, shared a glimpse into the work of her department through a focus on reports, projects and service delivery.  She initially explained, "Over the past few decades there's been a growing body of research that has placed an emphasis on the importance of early childhood experiences and the long-term benefits of investing our time and energy in the early years."  She then provided highlights of economic and health perspective from www.graduationeffect.org and the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, being reasons known for the importance of early learning.  Gibbs explained that students with high reading levels in grade 3 are more likely to graduate from high school. As well, it is known from Saskatchewan data collection that students arriving in kindergarten possessing strong skills are far more likely to read at grade level in grade 3 than those who don't, as portrayed in charts that were presented.

Early Years Evaluation (EYE) data representing the number of SECPSD children per tier in Response to Intervention programming for fall/spring 2014/2015 to 2019/2020 showed the following averages:  Tier 1 (408), Tier 2 (109) and Tier 3 (55).  The educator stated, "It really is critical that not only are we bringing kids up to green by the end of the school year in kindergarten but its important we are supporting our families as they raise their children in those preschool years so they are actually entering kindergarten in Tier 1 in the green;" hence, the EYE reading and writing goals in the early years.

The Coordinator explained that as part of the early years instructional team plan (ITP), teachers across the division spend 45 minutes monthly with an instructional team, and the desire was for preK and K teachers to have the same support. A brief tour of a sample monthly ITP meeting was shared.  It was noted that teachers were able to participate (whenever they had the opportunity to take their 45 minutes) through readings, watching videos from the Harvard Centre of the Developing Child, and by posting and responding to reflections resulting in rich discussion and great support among the early learning educator community. 

Gibbs stated that the division has really strong teachers, so she wanted to showcase their work and have them be a support for their colleagues.  She provided video clip snapshots into what was accomplished in kindergarten pre-COVID-19 in illustrating the goal of creating focus grade support from elementary curriculum coaches.  The coaches spent their first day of the project in kindergarten classrooms observing and making plans with the teachers to gather evidence of their strengths, followed by a second day in the classrooms gathering the evidence.  The coaches then spent considerable time curating a virtual tour of all the kindergarten classrooms to support the teachers' work and so the teachers can reflect upon their own areas of strength and their need for growth which, once self-identified, will be supported by the coaches to assist them in reaching their individual goals. There were 375 items uploaded to the virtual tour portfolio, covering 13 different categories such as assessment practices, inclusion, holistic learning and teaching, use of key kindergarten resources, uninterrupted time for inquiry and play-based learning, and application of letters and sounds.  Follow up with teachers will be done in the fall.

With the early learning team having to "in a flash" become experts in online learning, they are now working to support teachers with their online delivery of supplemental learning. For example, Gibbs' shared a model learning session being conducted by a coach with two Grade 1 neighbouring students and video clips of Speech Language Pathologists meeting with families to provide service delivery through private Teams channels.  The full PowerPoint presentation can be accessed here.

Monitoring Report on System Goal #4: Director of Education Lynn Little explained that SECPSD recognizes that engagement with all stakeholders is crucial for the success and achievement of every student across the system.  In her report to the Board, which she noted is the last monitoring report of the school year, evidence of achievement of the Board's goal "Our division systematically builds, strengthens and maintains two-way communication with internal and external stakeholders" was presented.  The report illustrated engagement at three levels:  Board of Education, School Level and Division Level. Little noted that several annual meetings and events were cancelled this year on account of COVID-19 such as the Saskatchewan School Boards Association Spring Assembly, the Board's annual meeting with the SECTA Executive and their annual meeting with the Board of Education of the Holy Family school division. During the pandemic the division has been relying on the use of established social media and traditional media print formats for messaging.

The Director reported that the annual regional School Community Council (SCC) Engagement and Information meetings held each fall after the SCC elections were held in Alameda, Radville and MacLeod in November with a focus on Truth and Reconciliation. Her report also listed data regarding student led conferences, parent nights, and the division's administrative council which is comprised of two representatives from each service area, a president, and a superintendent facilitator who meet every second month and provide feedback and direction to the system. Little announced that in the upcoming year Aaron Hiske, Superintendent of Education, will assume her role as co-chair of the South East Community Mobilization Steering Committee and South East Community Protocol for VTRA.

Mosaic Extreme School Makeover: During the round table portion at the top of the board meeting agenda, Kevin Keating, Board Member for subdivision 4, congratulated Oxbow Prairie Horizons School which is one of ten schools across the province to win the 2020 Mosaic Extreme School Makeover Challenge.  The award of $10,000 is slated to increase the frequency of their breakfast program, implement after school cooking classes and host nutrition education workshops.  The school makeover initiative began in 2006 to encourage grassroots initiatives to improve student nutrition.  In partnership with the Saskatchewan School Boards Association, Mosaic annually awards a total of $100,000 to support ten schools to provide healthier school environments for their students. SECPSD congratulates OPHS on their success and is grateful to Mosaic for the generous donation to the school. For information on the challenge and past recipient projects visit https://saskschoolboards.ca/.

Presentations: Three guests joined the Board via WebEx to be recognized for their work.

  • Krystal Fehrenbach, Community Education Liaison and Counsellor in Arcola, was pleased to report that the division applied for and was fortunate to receive a $19,000 COVID-19 emergency grant provided by the Breakfast Club of Canada (an organization with which the division works on an annual basis) for immediate distribution to families across the system to aid nutrition.  The fund was created to support children and local community organizations that support food insecure families during the pandemic.  In collaboration with schools, thus far $12,400 has been shared among 248 families (who either self-identified or were identified by schools) through a mail out of $50 gift cards purchased from local businesses, and designated solely for groceries. Families were also encouraged that if they were not currently in need of the funding at this time to pay it forward to another family that they know is in need. The remaining $6,600 is yet to be distributed to identified families.
     
  • Student Services Counsellor, Trina Battersby, stationed in Estevan, reported on supports and projects she and her colleagues have developed for students and families. She explained that when the pandemic struck, the counsellors were quickly organized into four main working groups (process, trauma response, self-care and anxiety) to enable them to stay connected with families to continue to offer support and to respond to hot spots that arise.  Through the blending of a webinar by a trauma expert who offered solutions to try to mitigate trauma and some social media ideas gleaned from the Good Spirit School Division the Connection Challenge was birthed and rolled out on April 27 to engage and help families mitigate trauma effects. The weekly wellness challenges cover topics such as routine, connection, moving/getting outside and anxiety. The counsellors are also currently creating "Kitchen Connections" which are short webinars to be rolled out by the end of the school year, with the initial three focusing on surviving and thriving with supplemental learning, sleep, and screen time.
     
  • With delivery of student driver education topping the list of questions to consider from administrators as a result of the slowdown, Curriculum Coordinator Michael Graham, at SECPSD's head office, reported that after direction was received from the Ministry of Education an online solution was devised and implemented through MS Teams to enable students to complete their in-class course requirements, much like all other schools are delivering the "in-class" portion of supplemental learning for students. Drivers Ed teams were established for each of the four contracted instructors and a level of safety and security was developed through clusters with each classroom having a specific private channel.  Instructors can assign tasks normally completed in class, have a relatively easy time marking and utilize a feedback-to-students mechanism if desired. Graham was enthused to have participated in his first ever live online driver ed training on the evening of May 19, describing it as "a most unique experience." He was also impressed with the ease of some students, who are familiar to Teams, in navigating the virtual learning environment to hop in and out of breakout rooms. Graham said the in-vehicle portion of the training is yet to be determined; however, looking ahead, using Teams is going to help students, particularly in rural settings, to complete the in-class portion of the driver course.

Board Chairwoman expressed appreciation for the presentations stating, "It is certainly good to see all the initiatives that are happening." She also thanked staff for their efforts saying, "… I am pleased that all of you have done this good work to try to address all the needs of our students throughout the system."
 
Articles by Norm Park:  Articles submitted by Norm Park, contracted reporter for SECPSD, are available at these links: Driver Education, Early Learning, Monitoring Report, Nutrition Grant, Student Services.

 Upcoming Meetings:

May 21 & 28 /20Board Chairs Teleconferences
June 17/20Board Committee-of-the-Whole Meeting
June 17/20Regular (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

 

 

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