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Director's Annual Report - 2015

The Director's Annual Report is a brief review of the activities and achievements of the Greater Essex County District School Board in the previous year.

We hope it will give you an appreciation for the efforts of our staff and the accomplishments of our students as we work to build tomorrow together.

Click on the image to view the video. DAR Image.jpg

A translatable transcript of the presentation is available below:

 

2015 Director’s Annual Report

2015 was invigorating, challenging and rewarding for everyone in the Greater Essex County District School Board.

I’m Director of Education Erin Kelly.

Thank you for taking the time to review my annual report. It is my hope that this presentation will inform and possibly inspire viewers, enhancing your appreciation for the work of our staff and the achievements of our students.

This year, our Board of Trustees, working closely with Senior Administration, developed a new five year strategic plan with a renewed Vision and Mission.

As you will see, the plan is based on three principles: Confident Learners, Engaged Communities and Ethical Stewardship.

For each of these areas, three priorities were established and this report reflects both our efforts and our successes.

This is how 2015 looked to us.

 

The achievement and well-being of students is the preeminent goal for any school board, as mandated by the province’s Renewed Goals for Education.

Our students should be conscientious, generous and responsible, critical thinkers and confident learners.

And we must be provide them with the direction and resources they need to be successful.

Communities have to be mobilized to complete a well-rounded learning environment. We need the support and involvement of families, municipalities, business and our partners in education.

Staff, administrators and our Board of Trustees also create trust with the students and our communities through their sincere efforts to use our resources wisely.

Ethical stewardship is a concept that needs to be modelled by those claiming to follow it.

The Greater Essex County District School Board’s commitment to student achievement is reinforced by a determination to reach some ambitious yet realistic goals.

Our Board Improvement Plan wants to engage and empower staff, students, families and communities to focus student learning.

A measure of that success is the number of students who receive their Ontario Secondary School Diploma. Our four year graduation rate last year was above 83% and nearly 90% in five years.

The work of our Student Success branch has been fundamental in this undertaking.

An emphasis on equal value for all pathways is guiding young people to fields of study that match their inclinations and aspirations.

Cooperative education opportunities increased in the past year.

More Specialist High Skills Majors were offered in more of our schools- 51 programs in 15 sectors.

And unique programs such as our Student Ventures initiative are inspiring entrepreneurship.

This year, twenty-three students received grants and guidance to begin and operate small businesses.

We were the only school board in Ontario to get funding from the provincial Ministry of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure to offer students this chance to gain important experience and earn money as well as co-op credits toward their Ontario Secondary School Diploma.

By June 2017, we expect to see a 10% increase in primary and junior math results on provincial tests and to that end, the GECDSB has established a Math Task Force that will provide recommendations that will help us achieve our goals.

EQAO results were only available last year for Grade 9 math and for the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test written by Grade 10 students

Camp Wonder, our summer learning program, expanded to provide more students with learning opportunities and recreational activities. Starting the day with a healthy breakfast, students engaged in inquiry-based learning through a variety of activities designed to develop literacy and numeracy skills. Small group instruction, differentiated learning and the effective use of technology help to reinforce academic skills, positive social interactions and healthy lifestyles.

Digital responsibility is a keystone of our Character Education program. This past year every student from JK to Grade 12 received a half-day workshop on safe and appropriate use of technology from our Digital Learning Team.

As well, every teacher was trained on how to effectively integrate technology into teaching and learning.

 

Our Board understands that we have mutually-beneficial relationships with our communities. We not only provide an essential service, our students’ outcomes are enhanced through partnerships and our partners, in turn, profit from their involvement in the community.

We appreciate the role of our Board of Trustees in fulfilling this objective. They provide valuable direction based on the input they receive as the communities’ representatives for public education. Last year we finalized a unique agreement with St. Clair College which allows high school students in the Precision Machining and Tooling OYAP program to fast-track their apprenticeships by earning college credits while they complete their high school requirements. This is the first program of its kind in Ontario.

We have continued to build trust and mutual respect with our First Nations, Metis and Inuit students and their families.

An Indigenous Parent Committee was established to collectively work toward enriching students’ educational experience as it relates to their culture, language and inherent rights as well as to promote awareness about indigenous perspectives, histories and cultures.

Our successful Mental Health Seminar Series staged three events for families to recognize and deal with children's mental health issues and reduce the stigma of mental illness.

These events were made possible with the support of the Greater Essex County District School Board Parent Involvement Committee.

The community continued to be an important resource for teaching and learning in our schools. We worked with a number of partners to revise our high school African-Canadian Roads to Freedom document.

The updated version includes the latest documented information and new stories about the significant contributions that Canadians of African descent have made to the Windsor-Essex region and across the country.

And we continue to enjoy the benefits of positive two-way communication with all the individuals and organizations that have an interest in public education.

We take every opportunity to engage our partners and the public in person, online and through the expanding range of social media.

 

Leadership is vital in the protection and efficient use of our fixed, limited resources, whether that’s money or the precious assets in our natural environment.

The annual operating budget for the Greater Essex County District School Board is more than $415 million, with an additional $39 million in capital funding.

Through the Program and Accommodation Review process and boundary adjustments we have taken action to reduce surplus student spaces across the district.

We celebrated the opening of the new West Gate Public School, the consolidation of two old buildings; and the new Essex District High School, a challenging three year rebuild, was completed.

Other capital projects – a $10 million addition at Tecumseh Vista Academy and the renovations at W.F. Herman Secondary School- were started and are progressing well.

In 2015 we also began an ambitious campaign to recruit International Students to our schools. Working with approved agents, 35 students from six different countries have registered with us and started school this September.

Our financial and environmental stewardship coincided during the past year in our annual Energy Challenge.

Through the conservation efforts of many of our schools we reduced our electrical usage considerably from January to June 2015, saving the Board thousands of dollars.

Contracts have been awarded to place solar panels on 25 of our schools.

Once these projects are complete, approximately 200,000 new panels will generate more than 6,000 megawatts of clean, renewable energy that has the potential to bring in $250,000 to $300,000 annually for the Board.

And our efforts board-wide to do the right thing for the planet were impressive during the past year.  Fifty schools received provincial certification through Ontario EcoSchools in 2015.

The Leamington District Secondary School EcoTeam organized a community summit on the dangerous algae blooms in Lake Erie, an initiative which drew the attention and praise of Canada’s foremost environmentalist, Dr. David Suzuki.

 

Thank you for taking the time to review my annual report. I’m excited about the possibilities and opportunities in 2016. I encourage everyone to be involved in public education in our community so we can continue building tomorrow together.