17 Sep. 2015
KPDSB Media Release
Media Release - September 9, 2015
Trustees met at New Prospect Public School in Dryden on Tuesday, September 8, for the first Board Meeting of the 2015-2016 school year.
The September “Students Come First” presentation titled ‘2015 Kids Come First Video’ was received by Trustees. Sheena Valley, KPDSB Communications Officer, and Jordan Hinchey, owner of Spot On Creative, spoke to Trustees about the creation of the annual video that is shown to all staff on the first day of school and at all committee meetings. The video, created to inspire and give a visual representation of our strategic plan and vision statement of ‘Kids Come First’, includes footage from all areas of the board and has become an initiative that staff look forward to each year. Hinchey spoke of the job fondly, indicating that it’s a project he looks forward to and commended our staff for the work he sees in our buildings “You should all be very proud. None of what I see or record is a show or put on, it’s the real work that is happening in your classrooms. You have amazing staff doing amazing things and I’m very grateful to be able to help you tell your story.”
Sean Monteith, Director of Education, added “This video is truly a representation of who we are as an organization and underscores our three areas of focus: kids, learning and leading.”
Scott Urquhart, Student Success Lead, and Kieran McMonagle, Dryden High School (DHS) Graduation Coach, presented the First Nation, Metis and Inuit (FNMI) Grad Coach Report. The graduation coach model is a new initiative that began in June 2014 under the title of Four Directions Program. Currently, there are approximately 15 FNMI graduation coaches across Canada, with the only two in Ontario working in KPDSB schools (Dryden High School and Beaver Brae Secondary School in Kenora – new for the 2015-2016 school year). The work of graduation coaches is vast and includes building meaningful relationships with the students and their families, transition activities for FNMI students preparing to enter high school, participating and being visible at community events, academic and pathways support, and ensuring students know they have a caring adult to talk to throughout the day.
The goal of the Four Directions Program is to increase credit accumulation and mark distribution for FNMI Grade 9 students. That goal has been achieved in the first year with nearly 80% of DHS Grade 9 FNMI students achieving eight or more credits (only 3% below non-Aboriginal students in the same cohort) for the 2014-2015 school year, a stark difference from previous school years where approximately 55-60% of Grade 9 FNMI students achieved eight credits. We also saw significant improvements in mark distribution for those students and are proud to acknowledge that no students were disconnected from the school over the year. With enthusiastic support from the Student Achievement Division of the Ministry of Education, we will continue to grow these programs in Dryden and Kenora and hope to expand the program to Queen Elizabeth District High School in Sioux Lookout in the future.
Susanne Bastable, School Effectiveness Lead, and Heather Gardner, Aboriginal Family Case Worker, presented the Open Roads Public School Aboriginal Family Case Worker Report. The position at Open Roads, which began in January 2015, is a new and exciting initiative that works to support FNMI students in many different ways, including creating and fostering strong relationships with students and their families, building a sense of belonging at the school, encouraging and facilitating participation in community events, celebrating student achievement and successes with families, and acting as a liaison between home, school and other community supports. Gardner spoke of the work she is doing at the school passionately, sharing challenges some of the FNMI students at Open Roads face, and how those needs have to be addressed before children can expect to be able to focus on their learning. From providing nutritional meals for students, to supporting their families in making connections with community supports, the work of Gardner and the school staff is having a positive impact on the lives of FNMI students and their families.
Dean Carrie, Superintendent of Business, presented the Sioux Lookout High School update. Work continues on plans for the new school to ensure the building will meet the needs of our students and staff once completed. Trustees heard that soil samples from the future site of the new school have come back and plans for preparation for foundation work are currently being discussed with the Ministry of Education. We will continue to share updates on the progress of the new school as they become available.
KENORA ONLINE: Student achievement goes beyond the classroom in Dryden
For trustees at the Keewatin-Patricia District School Board, improving test scores can mean adopting strategies that go well beyond the classroom.
Heather Gardner's job is helping aboriginal children at Open Roads School in Dryden. As she told trustees last night, she's rarely at her desk.
"I'm almost never sitting down. I'm always in the classroom getting to know the students, getting to know the teachers. I'm in and out of the school getting to know the families as well. We're always in constant communication with them. Whether that's a text, a phone call, an email, Facebook message, Twitter. Whatever it is, we need to do to reach the families and get them to correspond with the school," she said.
At Dryden High School, Scott Urquhart oversees the Four Directions initiative. In their first year, he says they were able to narrow the gap in academic achievement between aboriginal students in Grade 9 and their peers.
"I think it speaks to what's possible and what can be done, and the commitment we're ready to make as a school board to move forward," he said.
In an average year, Urquhart says up to 60 per cent of Grade 9 students might earn eight credits. Last year, after the Four Directions program, 80 per cent of students earned eight credits. That's only three per cent below the average for non-aboriginal students in Grade 9.
Kieran McMonagle is called a grad coach. She's been working with aboriginal students in The Four Directions initiative -- which is focused on aboriginal students in Grade 9 -- in an effort to improve their academic achievement. McMonagle says the key is building strong relationships with her students, as well as their families and communities.
"So, for some students, that might mean working with their parent or guardian. For some students, it might mean working with a coach or a team within the school, or in the greater community. For some, it might be linking them with an agency, to better support and meet their needs," she said.
Urquhart says this kind of result has people in Queen's Park taking notice. He adds the board is hoping to expand the program to Beaver Brae in Kenora, while continuing with a second cohort in Dryden.
With a legacy of residential schools, as well as missing and murdered aboriginal women, both staff say its important to provide a strong bond between the classroom and the communities they serve.
Four Directions Youtube Video
FIRST NATIONS, METIS & INUIT (FNMI) COACHING PROGRAM BEGINS AT DRYDEN HIGH
Beginning in 2014 Dryden High School is piloting a new program for First Nations, Metis & Inuit (FNMI) students. FNMI is a program which provides mentorship, individual and group support for First Nations, Metis, and Inuit students transitioning to and attending High School. It is the first program of its kind in Ontario.