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At HWDSB, we have a team of professionals who work with students, families, schools and community agencies to ensure that needs are met in the most equitable and inclusive environment possible. This could involve, but not be limited to, the following:

We also help our students and families  inside and out of the classroom through supports such as:

Click the drop-down menus below to learn more about supports for students in HWDSB secondary schools:

Black Students

The Graduation Coach Program for Black Students uses a comprehensive approach to build a healthy and vibrant community for Black students. Graduation coaches provide mentorship and advocacy for students. This partnership can look like one-to-one support, advocating for student needs, providing referrals to resources, creating a dedicated space within schools and summer programming.

The Graduation Coach Program for Black Students provides intensive supports to Black students and their families with the goal of seeing each student achieve credits, graduate, and successfully transition into their chosen post-secondary pathway. The program is currently located at Bernie Custis, Nora Frances Henderson, Sherwood, Sir Allan MacNab, Sir Winston Churchill and Westdale secondary schools.

Indigenous Students

At HWDSB, we strive to meet the academic, holistic, and educational wellness needs of Indigenous students and families. Through partnerships with local Indigenous organizations, we endeavour to intentionally weave ways of knowing, being and doing into all streams of education.  

We encourage families to visit Indigenous Education Circle Strategic Action Plan (IECSAP) 2021-2025 to learn more about the ways we intend to build reciprocal relationships with local Indigenous communities, including urban Indigenous families. Our vision includes preserving Kanien’kéha, the Mohawk Language, and a diverse approach to cultural knowledge systems and worldviews, as we bring our minds together as one for the success of our students.  

The Native Youth Advancement with Education Hamilton (NYAWEH) program is a partnership with Niwasa Kendaaswin Teg. It empowers Indigenous students in grades 6 to 8 and 9 to 12 through personal, social and cultural-based support.  

Cultivating Community: Reclaiming Our Spaces in Education (CC:ROSE) is a student-driven leadership and learning community consisting of self-identified Indigenous learners in grades 7 to 12 across HWDSB.  

The Learning Nest is a specialized program for Indigenous students in grades 9 to 12 where learners experience culturally immersive, rich and authentic experiences rooted in Indigenous Knowledge systems. 

Strengthening Hamilton’s Aboriginal Education (SHAE) empowers Indigenous learners in grades 9 to 12 to reach their post-secondary pathway of choice. The program is rooted in Indigenous pedagogical approaches and cultural learning with the vision of student success at the forefront. 

We hope these resources help you navigate the school system, and we invite you to connect with us at [email protected] so you can stay informed about the exciting events happening throughout the year for students and families. 

Special Education

Individual Education Plan (IEP)
An Individual Education Plan (IEP) is a written plan describing the appropriate special education program and/or special education services to be received by a student with special education needs. Students who have an IEP will have a transition plan in place to ensure the move from Grade 8 to 9 is a positive one. The transition plan:

  • is a detailed and coordinated plan designed to assist students in making successful educational transitions.
  • is developed as part of the students’ IEP in consultation with families, students, and relevant community agencies and/or partners, as necessary.
  • may include planning visits to the future secondary school to help become familiar with the building and other personalized transition goals.

Post-Secondary Navigation (PSN)
The Post-Secondary Navigation (PSN) Team works collaboratively with post-secondary institutions, provincial associations and educational service partners to support the transition requirements of students with disabilities, as they exit secondary schools to continue their education and/or life journey. PSN provides:

  • Community, Employment, and Education Resource Fairs and events throughout the year
  • Elementary to Secondary transition support
  • Resources and connections for students, parents/and guardians to supports found in all pathways
  • Staff development and training
  • Job Readiness programming
  • Experiential Learning

Transition Planning
Students who have an IEP will have a transition plan in place to ensure the move from secondary school to their post-secondary pathway is a positive one. The transition plan is a detailed and coordinated plan designed to assist the student in making successful educational transitions.

Students with an IEP who are Planning to Attend College or University
Students with IEPs planning to attend college or university should research potential post-secondary schools’ support and accessibility services. They should also understand the process of disclosing a disability to the Accessibility Services (AS) office and providing appropriate documentation. In addition to disclosing your disability with the institution, students should prepare to advocate for themselves.

Specialized Services Programs for Preparing
Project SEARCH is a business-led, transition-to-work program for young people with developmental or intellectual disabilities. The main objective is to prepare students for employment with job skills training through a combination of classroom instruction and hands-on career training.

The Transitional Work Experience Program (TWEP) is a unique learning opportunity that provides on-the-job training and valuable work experience. TWEP is available for students who are between the ages of 14 and 21 and have been identified as having special education needs.

Students Learning English

HWDSB provides a variety of supports and programs for students learning English. The purpose of these credit courses is to develop the level of proficiency in English required for success in school, the community, post-secondary education and the workplace.

Newcomers may need an initial assessment to determine their English proficiency, which guides programming and places them on the Steps to English Proficiency (STEP) continuum. All assessments are conducted at the HWDSB Welcome Centre.

Settlement Workers In Schools (SWIS) can also play a crucial role in bridging the gap between newcomers and available community resources and service. English as a Second Language (ESL) programming is offered at Bernie Custis, Glendale, Nora Frances Henderson and Westale secondary schools.

Student Services

The Student Services department is the most diverse department in the school and is the umbrella under which the following services are delivered:

  • Career Education
  • Cooperative Education
  • e-learning Guidance
  • Learning Commons
  • Student Success

This staff team plays a central role in all secondary schools by providing you with the supports they need for success in school, in the workplace, and in your daily life. Student Services:

  • Provides support for course options, pathway planning, and student
  • Ensures that you develop the knowledge and skills you need to make informed education and career/life choices.
  • Provides opportunities for learning both in and outside the classroom.
Updated on Wednesday, December 06, 2023.
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