In this second full year of post-pandemic uninterrupted learning, there continues to be a reinvigorated vibrancy and enthusiasm at all HWDSB schools as students were in classrooms and learning spaces.
HWDSB students, staff and families had many meaningful moments throughout the school year that provided a deep sense of community, belonging and achievement. Throughout the 2022-2023 school year HWDSB students returned to school in September, enjoyed extra-curricular activities, student-driven initiatives, and exciting school-based events, and some HWDSB students marked the completion of their K-12 education at a year-end commencement.
Even during such memorable experiences, we know the residual impacts of the pandemic created fault lines that continue to be felt for many HWDSB students academically, emotionally, and socially. For this reason and others, HWDSB’s focus remains fixed on student well-being, meaningful inclusion, and positive learning outcomes for all.
Nothing has my attention and ongoing effort more than ensuring all HWDSB student’s reach their academic potential in classrooms and learning spaces that are rooted in our Human Rights policy that was passed in 2022. And we know just how deeply this also matters to you as students, staff, and families at HWDSB.
The past school year proved to be a pivotal intersection for HWDSB. Throughout the year the previous strategic directions that guided 5-years of work at HWDSB came to a close, and in tandem we were also co-creating a new path forward.
To help us do this, we embarked on extensive consultation to capture community voice and interweave those insights into the foundation of the new Multi-Year Strategic Plan. From March 2023 until the end of the school year and onward into the summer, we spoke with parents and caregivers, listened to families and students, and engaged our community in a variety of ways to help shape how HWDSB will dramatically improve academic outcomes and create a deeper sense of belonging for all HWDSB students. I encourage you to read more about HWDSB’S new Strategic Directions that will frame how we guide and support students:
Each year when I do my Annual Report, I know it will be a challenge to capture all the amazing student successes and important initiatives, programs and developments that happened over the course of the year at HWDSB.
And that is why, I encourage you to learn more about how HWDSB closed the previous 5 Strategic Directions, and where the new Multi-Year Strategic Plan will take us over the course of the next 5 years.
But, amid all that we have accomplished, shared, and experienced together, my hope is that as another year came to a close, we all look back and say, “We are proud to be HWDSB!”
In service and learning,
Sheryl Robinson Petrazzini
Director of Education – HWDSB
Looking Back – September – March 2023
Positive Culture and Well-Being
In this important strategic priority, we commit to building student and staff well-being throughpositive climate strategies and supportive relationships.
Our goal is to improve the well-being of all students and staff and close the gap for those currently and historically underserved. And to do this, we continue to review all policies and practices through the lens of the new Human Rights Policy.
Policies and the application of their associated procedures are the foundation of what makes HWDSB a welcoming, inclusive, and safe space for all. That is why, it is important to share that in addition to the Human Rights Policy and institution of its applicable procedures, during the 2022 – 2023 school year, HWDSB also implemented an Anti-Black racism policy and Gender Identity and Gender Expression Procedure further entrenching our commitment to equity and inclusion across HWDSB for all students, staff and families.
In addition to HWDSB policy and procedures, ongoing learning and professional development continued to be a key component of Positive Culture and Well-Being. Across the year, professional learning was facilitated for HWDSB system-leaders focused on:
- The Ontario Human Rights Code & HWDSB Human Rights Policy,
- Collective Duties & Responsibilities
- Interconnectivity of Human Rights to all HWDSB Priorities
- Responding to hate, bias and prejudice
- Mitigating Factors
- Understanding ableism
- Gender identity and Gender Expression Procedure, and
- Anti-black racism.
Additionally, staff learning continued to have a strong focus on Emotion Coaching, an empathetic practice designed to assist caring adults in their ability to support children’s feelings and help them learn to cope with — and self-regulate — negative emotions like fear, anger, and sadness. HWDSB hosted 8 staff-focused learning modules and monthly parent and caregiver education sessions.
And to ensure that HWDSB’s workforce reflects the needs of Hamilton’s growing community, 650 interviews were facilitated across all employee groups, which resulted in approximately 400 new staff, who represent the full spectrum of identities and lived experiences with our community, joining our team. Across 2022-2023, there were HWDSB hiring fairs that successfully helped achieve targeted workforce growth in much-needed areas.
Learning from our communities – with our communities – is a critical component of Positive Culture and Well-Being. An example of this, and an effective practice that promotes Black excellence and connects mentors to Black students who would benefit from culturally responsive support that affirms their identities, is HWDSB’s Graduation Coach Program for Black Students. Last year proved to be another successful year as this program expanded to Nora Francis Henderson and Sir Winston Churchill secondary schools seeing 88% success rate of course completion. But in addition to course completion, some HWDSB students participated in leadership summer programs for Black youth and hosted HWDSB’s first ONYX Ball in June.
In November 2022, alongside Indigenous staff and partners, HWDSB announced the launch of a strategic action plan to guide Indigenous Education until 2025. The Indigenous Education Circle Strategic Action Plan (IECSAP) 2021-2025 has five pillars – Revillagize, Reclaim, Renew, Restore and Celebrate – that create the opportunity to raise the collective Indigenous voices and honour commemoration, education, healing and wellness. The IECSAP signals a move towards restorative Indigenous educational wellness and success for students, families, communities, and nations, guided by the approaching faces.
Additionally, creating a positive culture and environment where all students and staff feel safe, supported, and accepted is one of the goals of the HWDSB Equity Action Plan. Student Voice Advisory Committees continue to be a part of the ongoing effort to achieve this goal and include the voices, experience, insight, and ideas of students who belong to groups which have been historically and currently marginalized by the education system.
Because we know from the student census data that HWDSB schools are diverse places, where students speak 152 languages at home, represent many cultures around the world and identify themselves through gender in evolving ways that we want to respect and honour. And honouring our differences in an environment where all students, staff and families feel safe continued to be priority as part of HWDSB’s Bullying Prevention and Intervention Policy and ongoing Safe Schools Action Plan.
Thank you for helping to build and maintain positive and caring school communities across HWDSB!
Student Learning and Achievement
Achievement Report for 2022-23. This report highlighted prior-year progress and outlined thepath ahead for 2022-2023 through the Annual Plan.
The Student Learning and Achievement strategic direction strives to improve graduation outcome and reading achievement for all students, as well as close the gap for those currently and historically underserved. These goals are targeted through the implementation of three strategies: Investing in People, Leveraging Effective Practice, and Refining Measures of Progress.
The Strategic Direction of Student Learning and Achievement also received attention when the Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) recently released school and school board data for last school year’s assessments.
2022-23 marked the second year HWDSB students participated in EQAO assessments since the start of the pandemic, and I want to thank staff for once again supporting this process. The results represent a new baseline for HWDSB, and the outcome helped to inform our new Multi-Year Strategic Plan’s Direction – Providing Equitable Quality Education.
We continue to be acutely aware of the ongoing impacts the pandemic’s learning disruptions continue to have on student achievement, and much like the trend province-wide, HWDSB has the most significant opportunity for increased achievement in mathematics.
And that is why, over the 2022-23 school year, HWDSB continued to implement the Math Achievement Action Plan which is informed by the Ministry’s Math Achievement Action Plan (2023). Designed to support student achievement and results in mathematics in Grades 3, 6, and 9, there are three areas of focus: Curriculum Fidelity, Math Content Knowledge for Teaching and Knowing Your Student.
Across HWDSB, Math facilitators have been assigned to 46 schools to directly support students with their learning and work with educators to build capacity. This year, the focus has been on the use of proven evidence-informed strategies (high impact instructional practices) to enhance math programming. These strategies are being used to support learning and application of key concepts to build student confidence and develop conceptual understanding.
Additionally, the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s (OHRC) Right to Read Report, Culturally Relevant and Responsive Pedagogy (CRRP), and effective phonics instruction continue to have a major influence on the annual approach. For the 2022-23 school year, our focus on reading achievement remained in place, and prioritized professional learning opportunities on CRRP and phonics as well as effective reading instruction and assessment practices inspired by Right to Read.
HWDSB will also continue to reduce potential gaps in student learning that resulted from the pandemic. This is a contributing component as it relates to overall EQAO results, and this work continues to be underway as part of HWDSB’s ongoing Pandemic Recovery Plan
HWDSB is committed to improving its communication with students, families, staff and the
community to provide the best education possible. Charting a clear course for current and future communications needs, as well as being responsive to the direction of the Board of Trustees, has helped to ensure that HWDSB is communicating the right message to the right constituency using the right communication tactics.
Effective Communication has been guided by the Four-Step Process of Communications Planning: Research, Planning, Implementation and Evaluation. Throughout the implementation of this strategic direction, the Strategic Communications and Engagement Plan has served as the framework for determining communication priorities and driving the work of the Communications and Community Engagement department. This plan demonstrates how projects, tasks and responsibilities align with the strategic direction of HWDSB.
Effective Communication in the 2022-23 school year began with a system strategy to support schools with enrolment and registration over the summer. A message to families was shared on Monday, August 29 to inform them that the Parent Portal was open, and students’ educators and timetables were available. More than 56,000 families accessed the Parent Portal last school year, which is more than double the previous year. HWDSB continues to review the platform to improve accessibility, language and literacy, navigation, data integrity and contact information updates.
Throughout the 2022-23 school year, Communications and Community Engagement staff continued to implement standards of communication for families. Effective communication helps to grow positive relationships. These Communication Standards build on the strategy that promotes standardized digital platforms and a positive customer service experience for families. We want families to be well informed and know what to expect. This is HWDSB’s communications commitment to families.
HWDSB’s Communication Standards were introduced internally to Principals and Vice-Principals in August 2022 and shared with the community in October. Staff collaborated with the Parent Involvement Committee (PIC) for PIC Connects sessions where School Councils across HWDSB could learn more about this refined approach to communication. Learning culminated in spring 2023 when Principals and Vice-Principals were able to test their knowledge and share their experiences during a Communication Standards feedback session. The greater HWDSB community was also able to share thoughts through a new engagement platform, Engage HWDSB.
In fall 2022, HWDSB launched an interactive platform to deliver on its commitment to community participation, collaboration and involvement in support of student success and well-being. Staff now have a repository for HWDSB projects, which promotes transparency and accountability by making plans visible. Progress and outcomes now live in one place so HWDSB communities can return to look up past projects and see new ones.
Engage HWDSB is an online space where students, families, staff and communities can learn more about work at HWDSB, share their voice and follow projects as they happen. Visitors to Engage HWDSB will see an expanding list of projects, policy consultations and initiatives. We are excited about the unique engagement opportunities this platform provides and will continue to utilize it to gather community voice.
As part of a review of communication efforts during the pandemic, staff explored ways to include a summary of Board news in its communication offerings. The COVID-19 Update to Families was a positive method of communication, resulting in the debut of two newsletter communications in winter 2023. The first edition of NOW @ HWDSB was shared in January 2023 and the first editions of the Trustee Newsletter were shared in March 2023.
Staff have worked hard to find ways to diversify communication efforts to meet the needs of how audiences receive communication. NOW @ HWDSB is Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board’s official newsletter. The publication is shared to all families via email, and contains a Director’s Message, elementary and secondary updates and more. In addition to NOW @ HWDSB, there is also a new Trustee Newsletter publication available to families through their home schools. The Trustee Newsletter is a connection between school communities and their elected school board representatives. These communications are sent via email and posted to school websites. We look forward to sharing future editions of both publications and keeping families informed about what is happening in their Board and school communities.
HWDSB continuously strives to improve and maintain the best quality and conditions of its
Ontario Government Approves Gym Expansion at Rosedale Elementary School school facilities to support the learning environment for students and staff, and for the use of schools by the greater community.
At HWDSB, the School Renewal strategic priority matters because quality school environments support student learning and well-being. A School Renewal update at Finance and Facilities was shared in March 2023, and at the heart of these commitments, we strive to optimize opportunities to improve the condition of our schools.
Specifically, we want our School Renewal strategies to move us forward, so that we see at least 25 per cent fewer schools identified as being in poor condition by 2024. These targeted efforts included window and door replacements, paving and parking lot improvements, HVAC enhancements, and roof replacements totaling roughly $10 million of completed school renewal activity at HWDSB throughout 2022-2023.
2022-2023 was the second year of our Long Term Facilities Master Plan. A continued important area of fund allocation is elementary and secondary facility benchmarks. With $4.5 million for secondary facility benchmarks, many HWDSB high schools saw improved common areas such as renovated cafeterias, change rooms, entrances, corridors, washroom upgrades and ceiling repairs. In addition to work on secondary schools, HWDSB elementary schools had $10 million for entrance and foyer enhancements, washroom renovations, and LED light replacements.
Additionally, in 2022-2023, HWDSB requested $21.6 million of funding from the Ministry of Education for a new Waterdown Elementary School in Mountainview Heights that will have a 500-student capacity and 5 childcare rooms. Additionally, HWDSB also has a $11.4 million funding request to the Ministry for an addition at Mount Hope Elementary School. This is planned to include 6 classrooms, a library addition and interior renovations along with 5 childcare rooms.
As always, we are eager to continue our ongoing success securing capital funding to achieve right-sized facilities that meet HWDSB’s future planning requirements and ongoing existing school expansions.
HWDSB is fortunate to have support from several community members and groups throughout
Hamilton. These groups work tirelessly to support students by providing unique experiences, complimenting their educational journeys. The efforts made by members and organizations in the community are evident in the relationships with schools, and the ongoing commitment to collaboration.
On behalf of HWDSB, the Communications and Community Engagement team distributed small thank you packages to 57 local organizations. Service departments and schools identified community groups that were supportive of their work throughout the school year. These community acknowledgements are an annual commitment at HWDSB, to remind community groups that they are valued and appreciated.
The Needs Assessment and Partnership Evaluation is part of the overall Engagement Strategy. It is designed to understand the school-based needs related to community support, as well as to evaluate community programming in relation to meeting these needs. Focusing on the contributions of community to align with school priorities maximizes the impact of work in progress or in the future. Together, the school and community align efforts towards a common goal.
The 2022 Needs Assessment and Partnership Evaluation was completed by 97 schools. The Needs Assessment asks administrators to rank their top three needs based on HWDSB priorities. This information allows for appropriate program selection by schools, as well as system-level decisions regarding support. The Partnership Evaluation requires administrators to provide feedback on external individuals/organizations that operated at their school during the instructional day, as well as the effectiveness of those programs to support the identified needs.
As part of the Engagement Strategy, community-based onboarding and transitions have been identified as areas for advancement. Community-based onboarding sets system expectations for the way school leaders learn about, understand and begin to develop relationships within their school and surrounding communities. The Communications and Community Engagement Department has developed of a framework to support this process, understanding the value of community learning for HWDSB leaders.
In 2022, the Communications and Community Engagement Department implemented a structure to support the onboarding of new Director of Education, Sheryl Robinson Petrazzini. “Coffee in the Community” focused on community learning and relationship building as part of the onboarding process. Allowing the Director to meet community members within organizations and programs across the city fostered trust and emphasis on the importance of the work being done in these neighbourhoods. Tour stops included Food4Kids, City of Hamilton Children’s and Community Services department, NuSteele, Living Rock Ministries, James North Baptist Church, Hamilton Public Library, Healthy Youth Network, Royal Botanical Garden and more.
Food inequality and limited access to food sources is a lived reality for some HWDSB students and families. School nutrition programs are critical to provide needed support to students, and often present stable sources of food security. Volunteers are essential to operating several of these programs. Without volunteer champions, many nutrition programs at HWDSB would be unable to run.
From September to March 2023, Tastebuds supported students in 70 HWDSB schools, with 1,326,391 meals and snacks being served. This support is possible thanks to $1,441,278 in funding and 178 dedicated volunteers. Food4Kids helped nutrition programs in 50 elementary schools and six secondary schools. Over 50 school-based volunteers assisted in the distribution of 1,021 bags of food and 105 gifts cards. Hamilton Bulldog’s Foundation $102,062.50 in nutrition support, with its impact being felt across 13 HWDSB schools.
HWDSB’s Focus on Youth (FOY) program ran from July 4 to August 25, 2023. The objective of the 2023 Focus on Youth program was to provide high quality, safe and supportive summer program opportunities, as well as employment experiences, for HWDSB students that are underserved and underrepresented.
Employment was offered to 100 students from 12 secondary schools and 3 alternative education sites. HWDSB partnered with 21 community agencies across three program streams with a wide variety of work settings and roles for FOY student employees. Placement streams included HWDSB Summer Learning Camps (Camp Power, EL Camps, etc.), Community Agency Placements (Hamilton Conservatory for the Arts, YWCA, Green Venture, etc.) and the Community Connectedness Program.
The Communications and Community Engagement department looks forward to continuing collaborations with our Hamilton community, and the ongoing commitment to providing students with unique learning opportunities and experiences.
Looking Forward at HWDSB
Over the course of the spring and summer, the community was invited to give their input into what students will need to improve their well-being, learning, and overall success in the years ahead. This process included extensive community consultation where HWDSB staff and consultants facilitated 1 Public Meeting with 100+ Participants, 5 Youth-led Pop-ups, 6 Community Pop-ups, 7 Advisory Groups and Student Leadership Workshops, 43 Interviews, 3,000 Survey Responses.
The feedback collected was reviewed by the Board of Trustees and provided the foundational elements that served to inform the new strategic directions and priorities for HWDSB.
At the October 2 Board Meeting, Trustees approved the new Multi-Year Strategic Plan charting a renewed course for HWDSB students, staff and families from 2023 – 2028. And I am pleased to share our powerful new Mission:
To ensure that every student experiences a sense of belonging and engages in dynamic learning to reach their potential and build their own future.
Our Mission is underpinned by HWDSB’s new guiding values: Compassion, Dignity, Trust and Joy.
Building a Sustainable Education System – We will adapt to a rapidly changing world through responsible fiscal management, investing equitably in accessible and sustainable facilities, and supporting a robust workforce.
Reinforcing Indigenous Educational Wellness & Reconciliation – We will honour our commitment to Truth and Reconciliation by nurturing respectful and reciprocal relationships among Indigenous Peoples and Treaty Partners, and by cultivating intergenerational healing and wellness in a restorative education system.
Thank you to the HWDSB students, staff and community members who shared their input! Your feedback helps us establish our school board’s priorities for the next five years. We will take strategic actions to realize the new Multi-Year Strategic Plan, which ensure that all students achieve excellence and feel safe, welcome and included at school today, tomorrow and always.