IN THIS ISSUE
It’s a Long Way… Hana’s Suitcase is Coming Oct. 4 Top
It’s a long way from 1930s Czechoslovakia to modern day Japan. But this was the trip made by a suitcase that helped piece together the real life story of Hana Brady, a victim of the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz in 1944.
Hana’s Suitcase, the award-winning book that tells the story of Hana and Holocaust museum curator Fumiko Ishioka, has been recreated as a play and film to help illustrate how Jewish people were treated during the Second World War. Educators use the story to illustrate the importance of social justice.
“Hana’s Suitcase is the first event in the school year that is part of the Board’s social justice initiative,” said Superintendent of Education Pat Rocco. “We want students to understand the importance of tolerance and respect so that they are aware of how their actions can affect others. Hana’s Suitcase, the Social Justice Fair and Martin Luther King Day festivities are all great tools that help promote student engagement and are aligned with our curriculum and instructional practices.”
This year, each HWDSB school has received a suitcase toolkit packed with the novel Hana’s Suitcase by Karen Levine, resources that relate to the true story, and curriculum-linked documents that highlight the social justice program’s ties to literacy, social studies, history, the arts and character education.
“Hana’s Suitcase is a wonderful teaching tool about tolerance and respect,” said Hamilton Jewish Federation’s holocaust education committee co-chair Madeleine Levy. “The story shows the dangers of staying silent in the face of oppression, which relates to bullying in schools.”
For the Board-wide initiative, 1,350 students from grades five to 12 will attend a screening of Hana’s Suitcase at Hamilton Place on October 4. Because HWDSB schools have the resources for Hana’s Suitcase, the intention is that people can use the material for years to come. Schools have some archival access that supplements the film this year, and there will be live feeds of the film in our schools.
Cafeterias Full of Nutritional Choices Top
The Board’s new Nutrition Policy took effect this school year, and is seeing schools offer students healthier food and drink choices.
“It’s such a great idea,” said Michael Murkovich, a Sherwood Secondary School guidance counsellor. “There is a ton of research that suggests healthy nutrition and low sugar consumption results in better student performance. I am really happy to see this policy in effect.”
Sherwood, like other high schools, has a Healthy Eating Action Team (HEAT) that has been seeking such a policy for three years. “Last year, our HEAT team convinced the cafeteria to start serving a healthy yogurt option, something the team originally sold in the hallways during lunch hour. The yogurt and other choices that the team was fighting for are now a part of the lunchtime menu. I am very proud of them,” Murkovich said.
The policy is in line with the Student Nutrition Program Nutrition Guidelines developed by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services and the recommendations of Canada’s Food Guide. The policy states that 80 percent of all food offered must have a high level of essential nutrients and a low level of fat, sugar and/or sodium. Beverages must also be in line with the policy guidelines.
It is a topic that people inside and outside of the Board certainly care about. HWDSB’s Nutrition Policy had the highest response rate and interest of the Board policies that underwent consultation in 2009-10, with more than 500 hard-copy responses.
Trustees requested the policy in 2007, to show their support for healthy lifestyles, and it has been amended to reflect community input. The policy incorporates parts of the Ministry of Education’s School Food and Beverage Policy.
“Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board’s Nutrition Policy complements the Board’s overall healthy schools strategy,” Board Chair Jessica Brennan says. “We want to ensure that our students are healthy and that they arrive in our schools, ready to learn and to reach their full potential.”
See a copy of the Nutrition Policy here.
Dr. Davey Celebrates Playground and Partnership Top
Windy, fall weather couldn’t put a damper on the fun that students had playing on new playground structures at a partnership celebration at the new Dr. J. Edgar Davey Elementary School this month.
Board officials mingled with leaders from the city and business communities to recognize the generosity that emerged from the Rotary Club of Hamilton A.M.’s fundraising of $50,000 for the play structures at HWDSB’s newest school.
“So many partners have come together: the city, the Rotary club and others as well to make this a really wonderful school,” Trustee Judith Bishop said outside the school at Ferguson and Wilson. “We are hoping this is going to be a school where the children do really well and where we are able to help revitalize the whole neighbourhood.”
As Rotarians fed all of the nearly 500 students attending the BBQ and celebration, Mayor Fred Eisenberger joked that he would love to go down one of the new slides. Students surrounded the new mounted Hamilton police officers before speeches ended and play began.
“I believe that our partnerships have made this a more stable community. Parents are realizing that what we have at our school isn’t available at every other school for free,” said Dr. Davey Principal Leah Schwenger. “Parents are putting down roots in our neighbourhood…We actually had people in tears. Our parents were just overwhelmed with the beauty of our school.”
Replacing a 1971 school on the same downtown site, the new Dr. Davey’s opening concluded a Board revitalization strategy that saw 10 new schools built by 2010. Its students were at Sanford elementary during construction last year.
A joint effort by HWDSB and the City of Hamilton led to a new community centre adjacent to the school. This centre – with an Ontario Early Years Centre, meeting rooms, and space for future programming like dance or cooking classes – is attached to the school with secure interior doors.
“At HWDSB, we are so proud of the hard work and collaboration that has gone into the construction of the new Dr. Davey, and we are thrilled that the school will provide more educational opportunities in such areas as technology and the arts for our students so that they can achieve their full potential,” said Superintendent of Education Pat Rocco.
Associate Director to Become OPSOA President Top
At the Ontario Public Supervisory Officials’ Association (OPSOA) annual general meeting in April, HWDSB Associate Director of Education Ken Bain was elected the organization’s president-elect and will assume presidency next September.
“Ken has been involved at OPSOA for several years now and has shown that he is dedicated to staff development, takes an interest in the training of supervisors and he has taken the lead of several committees,” says OPSOA Executive Director Frank Kelly. “He is seen as an effective and dedicated guy… a real leader.”
OPSOA is an organization made up of directors and superintendents from Ontario’s 31 English-speaking school boards. Bain was nominated to the role of president-elect by a committee of past presidents and area representatives. Bain was unanimously voted in at the April meeting.
“It’s a great honour to have been elected,” says Bain. “Being a member of OPSOA has been an important part of my professional career. It is great to be able to give something back to the organization.”
Bain has been the south-western regional director at OPSOA for two years and also represented the Canadian Association of School Administrators on the OPSOA Board of Directors. He has been at HWDSB for 36 years, working as an elementary school teacher, principal and superintendent before taking his current post.
Teamwork Helps Teachers Row to Victory Top
“The water conditions were particularly rough this year, making the start of each race very tricky,” said rower and A.M. Cunningham Grade 2 teacher Nicola Giles-Morreale. Weather isn’t the only factor that can rock a boat, she added.
“Teamwork is huge. You row with a lot of different personalities and need to collaborate, set your agendas aside and make the boat move well,” she said. “Perseverance, responsibility, respect and trustworthiness are key elements in a successful crew.”
The Sept. 2-5 event in St. Catharines saw 2,000 clubs compete in various categories. Other HWDSB teachers on the Leander team were Nicole Lebon-Ernst, Kristin Moore, Valerie Shepherd and Bev Comfort.
Another HWDSB staff member, experiential learning consultant Rich Neufeld, was also at the Worlds. A retired rower, he has officiated at regattas for nearly five years – and he was impressed with what he saw this year.
“I worked at the finish line one day and I was amazed at how close some of the races were,” he said. “There were three of us determining order of finish and we still had to go to the photo finish to verify some of the placements.”
Churchill Grad Wins Fraser Bursary Top
Maintaining a 90 per cent average is hard enough for most students – but imagine how discouraging it might be if you lacked the finances for college or university.
Thanks to the generosity of Ronald and Gina Fraser, one deserving HWDSB graduate will attend McMaster University this fall with their tuition paid. HWDSB’s Innovation and Partnership Office helps award the Ronald K. Fraser Foundation and Gina E. Fraser bursaries, for a student in financial need who wishes to study health sciences at McMaster.
“We are very excited that Dejana Ristic was this year’s Fraser Foundation winner,” said April Morganti, manager of partnership and community engagement. “There were a few deserving students of the award which made it hard to decide, but I am confident in the committee’s recommendation to McMaster.”
Recipients are students who have kept a high academic standing despite financial hardship; they must also seek to attend the health sciences program at McMaster University. Other challenging circumstances are also factors. Winners receive the scholarship annually, if they maintain high academic standing, and may remain funded even as they continue to medical school or bio-medical engineering.
“I am very confident that the award went to an individual who has the ability to not only overcome adversity, but to excel when most others might not see a way to succeed. Dejana is truly an inspiration,” Morganti said. The Ronald K. Fraser Foundation Bursary was created by Gina Fraser to honour her late husband.
Oprah Guest Speaker to Discuss Safe Internet Use Top
The Internet is always growing, but not always with content appropriate for children. It’s pervasive role in today’s society can make it tough for a parent or guardian to feel comfortable leaving their child alone with the computer.
“The reality is that all kids in the classroom have access to the internet and who knows what they are being exposed to,” says Janice Floyd, client service coordinator at the Community Child Abuse Council. “We wanted to hold a conference to help parents and professionals understand the impact of porn culture in the lives of young children, youth and their families.”
Internationally renowned speaker and trainer Cordelia Anderson, who has appeared on Oprah, will be in Hamilton to speak on the impacts of exposure to online pornography and sexual exploitation on Oct. 25 and 26.
Floyd said there will be two sessions. A free session for parents will teach parents about the impact of pornography, and strategies to help their children make better choices when using the Internet. The professional session will focus on the impact of pornography and sexually toxic culture on child development.
Find more details on the Community Child Abuse Council website.
“Aligning our Structure will Align our Work”: Director Top
If you have ever done a home renovation, you’ll know that they often take longer than you thought, take more work than you imagine, and include glitches and delays that you could not even invent.
But a renovation is also about making a space make sense, so that the layout of your home fits your needs.
It was with this aim in mind that we have been working away at the structure of departments at the Education Centre. We want to ensure that all staff members here, and elsewhere, are focused on student achievement. We want the structure of our workplace to reflect the Strategic Directions that guide our work.
Our Education Centre transformation strives to create a system that focuses on students and schools. We want every member of HWDSB to be responsible for – and to have a role in – improving student achievement. We want our processes, our decisions and our actions to be collaborative. We are building the departments and teams that will ensure we are not afraid to grapple with differing perspectives.
What does it mean when all of our leaders focus on supporting our schools? It means, for example, that when principals gather in learning teams that our superintendents also engage in this learning. Likewise, when school staffs are learning, we want administration to learn with them.
Like the hallways that connect linked departments, we want this to create a flow of communication that is constant and reciprocal between schools and the system. We want to remove barriers and distractions. This will allow us to be a nimble learning organization and to make adjustments as necessary.
Aligning a structure around strategy is ultimately about ensuring that we can respond in an effective and expedient way to issues and challenges. If we do this well, we will not be distracted from the important teaching and learning work happening in our schools.
It is in this spirit – of collaboration, of rapid and effective response – that we are undergoing our transformation. Our home, so to speak, is becoming just the kind of place in which we can guide schools as they help all students achieve their full potential.