During Black History Month 2020 the Greater Essex County District School Board announced the creation of a pilot Graduation Coach Program for secondary school students who self-identify as Black, African and/or Caribbean along with the appointment of Dr. Venus Olla (pictured, left) as the Board's Graduation Coach.
Olla has been working with the GECDSB since 2004 first as a Change Your Future counsellor and more recently as a secondary school teacher. She will provide additional, targeted, culturally responsive supports for self-identified students to improve their academic achievement and well-being. The format for the program will include skill-based learning and local, community networking opportunities. The intention is to improve attendance and graduation rates and advance Black, African and Caribbean students in their chosen pathways. Dr. Olla will be based at Kennedy Collegiate Institute and working with students at all GECDSB high schools.
Funding for the Graduation Coach program has been provided through a grant from the Ministry of Education.