Superintendent of Leading & Learning, Steve McCabe, and Superintendent of Student Success, Intermediate & Secondary, Manon Seguin, introduced staff who play a key role in the Board's use of Restorative practices: Learning Partner, Marina Westbrook; Safe Schools Principal, Mary-Ellen Agnel; and, Vice-Principal Marcy Cooper.
Restorative practices are an effective means of building strong relationships and connections within communities. It refers to a range of methods and strategies which can be used both to prevent relationship-damaging incidents (proactive stance) and to resolve conflicts if they arise (reactive stance).
Becoming a restorative school has many benefits including increased attendance and improved student achievement. Over the last four years, IIRP Restorative Practices training has been provided for almost 500 OCSB staff including educators, admin staff, social workers, and chaplains.
For more details, see pages 5-15 of the February 28, 2017 Board agenda.
What are the Cappies? An international program driven by students who act, write and vote in high school drama productions. Student critics hone their writing skills and vie to be published in local media outlets.
Katie Lewis-Prieur and Christine Adam-Carr shared the many successes of the Board's 12-year journey in the Cappies program. The program builds student self-esteem and gives real world experience for students as critics, while supporting and inspiring arts and drama education in schools. The culminating experience is a red-carpet-style gala to give out — drum roll please — The Cappies.
For more information, see pages 24-33 of the February 28, 2017 Board agenda.
Overview of mental health initiatives
Mary Donaghy, Superintendent of Special Education and Student Services, and Dr. Elizabeth Paquette, provided an overview of the Board's mental health initiatives. We continue to support schools in deepening their understanding of social emotional learning and self regulation, while supporting schools in adopting a whole school approach focused on social emotional learning.
Highlights of the overview:
- Build communication strategy
- Build capacity for principals
- Develop mental health literacy for educators
- Develop mental health literacy for students which can focus on dealing with stress and building resilience. SafeTALK is part of Specialist High Skills Major Program Training (suicide alertness)
- Communication to parents
- Offering the Sources of Strength suicide prevention program (6 high schools)
Professional development opportunities for staff include topics like: Anxiety, Creating Mentally Healthy Classrooms, Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST), Suicide Alertness for Everyone (SafeTALK), Non-Suicidal Self Injury (NSSI), Social Emotional Learning (SEL), ADHD, Fostering Resilience, and Collaborative Problem Solving.
The Headstrong Youth Summit will send teams from eight high schools for a day to raise awareness and anti-stigma messaging in their schools. Other student initiatives supported by educators are: In Love and In Danger, I Matter U Matter, Student wellness groups, Diversity Clubs, and Gay Straight Alliances.
The Board continues to support mental health initiatives that support English Language Learners, newcomers and those that have endured trauma. School teams work to better understand the barriers faced by children and youth in care or involved with the Children's Aid Society.
Further details can be found on pages 34-46 of the February 28, 2017 Board agenda.