Notes from the May 19, 2021 Regular (Public) Meeting of the South East Cornerstone Public School Division (SECPSD) Board of Education
Interim Provincial Education Plan (PEP)
Lynn Little, Director of Education, reported that the current provincial plan known as the Education Sector Strategic Plan (ESSP) is set to conclude after a decade, wrapping up at the end of June. There were a number of outcomes and priorities over the course of the decade that were worked on across the province where goals and priorities were set at the provincial level and then SK school divisions and first nations authorities that participated aligned with the same goals, with the three core ones being graduation rates, reading levels and early learning intervention. Although work on the next decade's plan began, with the interruption of COVID-19, the provincial education planning implementation team, of which Little is co-chairing, developed a one-year interim plan to respond to the pressures experienced by school systems as a result of the pandemic. The interim PEP includes three priorities for the 2021-2022 school year as well as provincial level key actions to meet the needs of all students in the areas of reading, learning response, and mental health and wellbeing. The plan was developed by members across SK with input from many different sectors across the province. The interim plan was endorsed by Board motion.
Early Learning Report
Jacquelene Gibbs, Coordinator of Early Learning, shared a one-hour presentation of the work of the 14 member team of Speech & Language Pathologists, Early Learning Consultants, Elementary Curriculum Coaches, KidsFirst Community Liaison and herself in terms of what drives them to do the work they do, and showcased the year's accomplishments, explaining that across the province public schools share the same goals for students and that in early learning SECPSD contributes to those goals in foundational ways.
She further explained, "We know that just within the business of education, children who regularly participate in quality early childhood programs, are excited about learning, make gains in reading and math, develop strong socials skills, and are more likely to graduate from high school. All of the things that we care deeply about in SEC need to start in the early years, as early as possible, in order to receive the greatest impact for our efforts and the greatest return on our investment."
Gibbs' 30-slide PowerPoint presentation depicted a graph of the Nurturing Care framework (good health, adequate nutrition, responsive caregiving, security and safety, and opportunities for early learning) which was developed by the World Health Organization and UNICEF. It is a set of conditions that promote learning, that protect from the effects of adverse childhood experiences and ensure success and achievement for every child, coinciding perfectly with the vision of SECPSD. Gibbs explained that nurturing care protects children from the worst effects of adversity by lowering their stress levels and encouraging emotional and cognitive coping mechanisms. Through the division's early learning program, staff endeavor to support the components of the framework through direct impact opportunities for early learning and responsive caregiving, while connecting families with community agencies and supports when they are struggling to meet the goals of the aforementioned framework. The early learning team provides community and family supports, child and family supports, and supports for students and teachers in school from PreK to grade 5. As well, they provide touchpoints for schools and families across the preschool years in order to enable connection and build relationships to ease the transition to school and to support families to provide all of the conditions of nurturing care for all the children in our communities.
With high rates of children visiting public health nurses by the age of two, the school division has found a way to put information into the hands of families to offer assistance and relationship building through assessments, supports, resources, conversations, regularly partnering with public health to provide a bridge to families without breaching confidentiality of health records. This is done through "events in a bag" - resource bags filled with books, craft supplies, resources, and other information. The supply of bags is replenished as needed upon the request of public health nurses. Resources are made available for children ages 18 months, 3 years, and 4 years. This year Madeleine Valentine, KidsFirst Community Liaison, delivered 613 bags to families via curbside pickup. As well, 402 Tales for Tots bags for children aged 18 months were delivered.
The Coordinator said more work was put into the online presence of early learning programming this school year, through the creation of a blog that emphasizes the three R's of early learning: reading, routines and relationships. As well the breadth and depth of early learning information available on the public portion of the division website has been significantly improved. Families can now access fully online applications forms for both the early learning and PreK programs.
Currently children on caseload are receiving home visits, centre-based visits, online visits, backyard visits, phone calls and play packages, all depending on COVID-19 case numbers in each community and the family's daily health and comfort level with having a home visit. Referrals come in from public health nurses, speech and language pathologists, the Regina General Hospital, schools, daycares and from families themselves. Early learning provides home visiting support until the child is meeting milestones or until they are transitioned into school.
SECPSD has nine Ministry funded PreK classes in seven communities (Arcola, Carlyle, Carnduff, Weyburn, Moosomin, Oxbow, Estevan) that offer quality early childhood experiences for 3- and 4-year-olds. In addition, the division supports 12 intensive needs students in this age bracket, with partial funding from the Ministry.
Gibbs was eager to present and explain several pictorial testimonials of early learning successes achieved by families through the work of her team.
New this year is that parents of children entering K, Grade 1, and Grade 2 this fall can now register their children in French Immersion programs in both Weyburn and Estevan. As well, Kindergarten teachers will add home visiting to their family engagement repertoire. The educator, who personally spent five years working as an early learning consultant, stated, "I can tell you there is no more powerful family engagement strategy than home visiting … that's when real partnerships develop."
Gibbs was enthused regarding the new opportunity recently announced by the Government of Saskatchewan of funding for family programming in the Estevan area and pleased that SEC has been given the opportunity to work closely with community partners to expand and enhance existing services there. She stated, 'The opportunities to impact the components of nurturing care are incredible. This has the potential to significantly impact our early years evaluation data and change the trajectory for children in our school division." She looks forward to reporting on this next May. View the full presentation here.
Monitoring Report on System Goal #4
The final monitoring report of the school year was shared with the Board by Director of Education, Lynn Little who provided evidence and samples that the division systematically builds, strengthens and maintains two-way communication with internal and external stakeholders, through a variety of processes at the board, system and school level. Little explained that several annual events were cancelled or moved to virtual offering this year. At the board level, while the annual MLA forum proceeded virtually via WebEx on March 19, 2021, the Board's annual meetings with the Holy Family school division board, and their meeting with the SECTA board were both cancelled. By virtual means, the board members were able to attend SSBA meetings and events, the annual SCC engagement and networking session, regular SCC meetings, and since November their own monthly meetings. At the school level, parent-student-teacher conferences were held virtually, as were SCC meetings and Local Advisory Council meetings. At the division level, meetings conducted by the Administrative Council, Administrator Group, and between the Director of Education and the President of SECTA were all held virtually.
The Director introduced Calli Cugnet (Communications Officer) and Carolyn Thompson (Executive Assistant to the Director) who each provided a summary and illustrations of some of the work they have engaged in this year to support communication among all stakeholders.
Cugnet went over some of the key mediums she has been working on or created to enhance communication and connection with parents or caregivers and the general public since joining SECPSD in September 2020. She provided statistics around the division's social media platforms: Facebook @ 1,484 followers, Twitter @ 702 followers, and Instagram, which was started in December, @ 294 followers. She explained that division posts have the potential of reaching many more people through shares and retweets and have reached as many as 2,000 on Twitter and 12,000 on Facebook. An employment related LinkedIn account was started this month and already has 245 followers. While posts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram will mostly be the same, the focus of LinkedIn posts will be on job openings and an attractive workplace.
Cugnet also worked with Raylene Forseth, the division's Mental Health Consultant to start a weekly social media campaign called Mental Health Monday utilizing monthly themes to bring awareness to issues around mental illness and offer simple strategies for families to use to optimize their mental health.
As well, a brief newsletter consisting of stories from schools, retirements, events, and messages for parents is released monthly. The communications officer also manages the Cornerstone@Home page within the families tab on the division website, which is dedicated to the partnership between home, school and community where links to videos, articles and information for parents and caregivers that connect academic learning with physical, social and emotional wellness can be found.
Thompson then shared various communications aspects of her work including attending bi-weekly provincial meetings held for Ministry of Education and school division communicators where a provincial COVID-19 update is provided and opportunity is given for sharing of media communications at both the provincial and school division levels. As well, she fields media calls and sets up interviews on behalf of the Director of Education and designated staff, as appropriate, with the Board Chairperson and Director of Education being the spokespersons for the Board. The executive assistant also monitors the division's general email account and liaises communications from media/parents/public for the Board of Education and the Senior Leadership Team, routing day-to-day communications. Statistical data and themes regarding media interviews and contact us emails was shared with the Board.
Since 2014, Thompson has drafted board highlights after each regular public board meeting, which are then enhanced by articles written by contracted reporter Norm Park and shared with all SECPSD employees, local media and via the public website. She also assists with website postings and manages the board portion of the website. In conclusion, she shared with the Board a brief presentation of some of the pictures that were used in features posted to the website scrolling banner during the past year.
- Jenn Deglau and Emily Gillies appeared virtually before the Board to express concerns regarding COVID-19 related issues and their impact within the school division.
- Weldon School in Bienfait was the lucky winner of one of ten $10,000 grants offered by Mosaic through the annual Mosaic School Nutrition Challenge for which schools and school communities can apply. The Director of Education praised the staff and school community council in Weldon School for their work in support of their students and families. The school has earmarked the funds for the renovation of the existing kitchen lab, to offer student cooking programs and to purchase a commercial dishwasher.
Motions were passed by the Board approving the 2021-2022 amended Preventative Maintenance & Renewal Plan (PMR) as well as the Three Year PMR plan for 2022-2023, 2023-2024 and 2024-2025. Manager of Facilities & Transportation Andy Dobson spoke to this item explaining that the division receives $2.7 million annually. This is the only year that has been status quo in terms of funding, which started out at around $900,000. The Manager explained that the PMR is fluid, with years two and three details being more vague in terms of priorities. At times projects have to be cancelled or added, and the plan updated.
Articles by Norm Park
Articles submitted by Norm Park, contracted reporter for SECPSD, are available at these links:
Board News Briefs, Early Learning, Maintenance Renewal, Mask Removal, System Goal 4
|Thursdays||Board Chairs RPT Update|
|May 31/21||Board Chairs Council Meeting|
|June 4/21||Public Section General Meeting|
|June 16/21||Committee-of-the-Whole Board Meeting|
|June 16/21||Regular (Public) Board Meeting|
For more information, please contact:
South East Cornerstone Public School Division
80A-18th Street N.E., Weyburn, SK S4H 2W4
Telephone: (306) 848-0080