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School board and city chasing the future together

Posted on Wednesday, May 03, 2017

chasethefuture-circlelogoManny Figueiredo and Chris Murray
Hamilton Spectator

Today’s students are tomorrow’s leaders.

That’s why Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB) and the City of Hamilton invited thousands of students to share their visions of Hamilton’s best future.

In the project Chase the Future: 2041, students dove into the new City Strategic Plan priorities through exploration, critical thinking and investigation. They shaped their visions for 2041, a full 25 years from when we began.

We believe that this kind of learning and partnership is an example of the synergies that are required to help make Hamilton the best place to raise a child and age successfully.

Before the research, mentoring and preparation began, Chase the Future was just an idea at HWDSB and the City of Hamilton. Both organizations were doing extensive consultation on strategic directions. We were asking our communities: What do we stand for?

At HWDSB, this feedback shaped five new priorities: Positive Culture and Well-being; Student Learning and Achievement; Effective Communication; School Renewal; and Partnerships.

At the City, it led to a community vision with six priorities: community engagement and participation; economic prosperity and growth; healthy and safe communities; clean and green; built environment and infrastructure; and culture and diversity.

With the big ideas in place, however, we felt we could do more. We could ask students to define their own visions for the future by exploring a big question in their learning this year: How might we make Hamilton an even better place to live?

Chase the Future looks different at each school, thanks to our innovative students and staff, as well as the generous support of our city mentors. Schools created visions for the Hamilton they want in 2041, when our students are our leaders.

At one school, an indoor mural and First Nations inspired garden evoke the indigenous history of the school site. At another, plans for a digital learning space employ piezoelectric sensors to transform movement in the hallway into energy for lighting. Others explore ways to encourage a village feel in suburban neighbourhoods, how to reduce dependence on plastic bottles and so much more.

During Education Week (May 1 to 5), we will celebrate with a showcase of Chase the Future projects. Students have embraced curiosity and creativity — and now it is time to see the possibility they have created for Hamilton in 2041.

We are grateful for the energy our students and staff have poured into Chase the Future, and for the strong partnership between HWDSB and the City that made it possible. Partnerships are key if we want to enhance student learning and connect them to options for their future.

We are also grateful that our students reminded us about the most important lesson of all: If we want to make Hamilton’s future brighter than ever, students will light the way.
Manny Figueiredo is director of education at Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board. Chris Murray is city manager at the City of Hamilton.

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