Monday, Sept. 19, 2022
Board Highlights – Sept. 13, 2022 meeting
The following are the highlights of the Near North District School Board (NNDSB) meeting of Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2022.
Elder McQuabbie provides opening prayer
Elder Wanda McQuabbie of Henvey Inlet First Nation offered the opening prayer of Tuesday’s Board meeting, the first of the 2022-2023 school year.
In addition to being a traditional knowledge keeper, Ms. McQuabbie is an Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe language) teacher for NNDSB at Britt Public School. She expressed her appreciation for being at the meeting. She spoke about her gratitude for the inclusive culture that lives in Near North schools and how important it is for Indigenous students to be “seen and acknowledged” in Near North schools.
Director of Education Craig Myles said he was encouraged to hear Elder McQuabbie’s comments that speak to NNDSB’s inclusive culture that acknowledges and honours the voices of Indigenous students and works to share those voices with all students and staff.
Student Trustees sworn in for second term
NNDSB’s two student trustees were sworn in at Tuesday’s meeting as they committed to serving a second term at the Board table.
Cecilia Darling, a Grade 12 student at Almaguin Highlands Secondary School, swore her oath as the Student Trustee. Later in the meeting, she gave her report, which included an extensive list of back-to-school activities and fundraisers taking place in the first two weeks of school.
Indigenous Student Trustee Allen Lewis Trodd is also returning for a second term with the Board. The Grade 12 student at Parry Sound High School swore an oath at the beginning of the meeting, and later gave his report about the latest meeting status of the Indigenous Youth Circle. The group is scheduled to meet next at Almaguin Highlands Secondary School.
Board sets 2022-2023 meeting schedule
The Board received the 2022-2023 meeting schedule. Trustees meet on the second Tuesday of the month from September through June. The next meeting will be Tuesday, Oct. 11, the last one before the municipal election Monday, Oct. 24.
The inaugural meeting of the new Board of Trustees will be held Nov. 15.
Largest number of students attended summer school
Superintendent of Teaching and Learning Melanie Gray provided a report to the Board that outlined the very successful summer learning program offered by NNDSB.
More than 60 staff were hired to provide education to 576 students from NNDSB and across the province. The summer learning program theme was celebrate, experience, plan, which allowed students to celebrate their prior learning, experience new opportunities and plan for their futures.
The number of students was greater than last year, with the largest increase (220 per cent) in co-operative education.
Among the experiences provided through the power learning program (literacy focus for students in Grades 1-4 and math focus for students in Grades 5-8) were: books donated though Nipissing University’s Books for Brook initiative; guests from the Friendship Centre who shared Indigenous teachings and traditions; staff from fire departments and construction-related fields speaking about their careers; and Science North scientists participating in Ask a Scientist sessions. All camps incorporated outdoor play and promoted positive social interaction.
With funding support from the NNDSB Board of Trustees, NNDSB also launched its first Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) camp this summer. The three-week camp for students in Grades 7-10 involved hands-on problem-solving while working on foundational literacy and numeracy skills. The students interacted with 3D printers, drones, coding and robotics.
COVID-19 management discussed
The Board was updated on how COVID-19 is being managed by NNDSB in schools.
The board is following the guidance of the Ministry of Education, and no additional local measures have been put into place by the Nipissing Parry Sound District Health Unit at the start of the 2022-2023 school year.
All staff, students and visitors are encouraged to self-screen daily before attending school. Masks are not required and will be provided at school for students staff and visitors who choose to wear them.
Schools are permitted to run clubs, activities, sports teams, bands and other extracurricular activities. Field trips will also be permitted, and schools will be available for community use.
Safe schools report presented to Board
Following several violent incidents in the United States last year, Vice-Chair John Cochrane requested a report that outlined the initiatives that keep NNDSB students and staff safe.
A report was provided that outlines the three pillars of the safe schools framework (citizenship and community, conflict resolution, and bullying awareness) and the initiatives that fall under each of the pillars.
The report outlined the board’s partnerships, initiative and pilot projects that all work in tandem to help provide inclusive, welcoming places for NNDSB students to learn. A media release has been issued on the report.
“This is just another example of how the work of the multi-year strategic plan all focuses on student achievement and well-being,” said Director Myles. “Our team and our partners all work together to educate staff and students to help keep them safe.”
Report from the Director of Education
Myles had a lengthy report to the Board.
He thanked executive council and staff for their efforts in getting the board’s facilities prepared for the start of a new school year, taking place predominantly in-person. He noted that NNDSB staff have built momentum as they work towards the four priorities of the multi-year strategic plan (MYSP) – excellence in communication, excellence in teaching and learning, excellence in relationships and excellence in innovation.
Myles also reviewed the leadership framework that will manage succession planning and retention strategies that will continue to build leadership capacity in the board. The framework provides current leaders enrichment opportunities and future leaders a foundation built upon learning and collaboration.
As part of his monthly report, Myles will be sharing data that illustrates the work being done in the strategic priority areas. This month, growth in excellence in innovation was shown by noting that NNDSB has exceeded its planned participation rate in the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP) by 16 per cent. Seven per cent of NNDSB’s Grade 11 and 12 students participate in the program, where the provincial average is 4.3 per cent. In excellence in relationships, the Director reported that 100 per cent of the 24 personal support worker (PSW) grads who are NNDSB’s first cohort have been hired, answering a critical community need. The administrator of one of the training sites, Belvedere Heights, spoke highly of the living classroom model for educating the students. Courses are running in Parry Sound, North Bay and now Mattawa, and intake is underway for the next PSW course starting in February 2023.
Trustees, senior staff attend sharing circle
Both Myles and Chair Jay Aspin noted in their remarks their gratitude to attend the sharing circle hosted by Wasauksing First Nation. The sharing circle supports nurturing relationships following the damage of the Shaptotaun at Parry Sound High School this spring.
Aspin said he found the sharing circle “really moving” and was proud of the work of First Nations Trustee Nichole King to bring the board together with First Nations rightsholders to continue building relationships. These sentiments were echoed by Myles.
“Participating in the sharing circle gave us the opportunity to reflect on the importance of relationships to Indigenous Peoples and how we can continue to take action keeping spaces safe and welcoming for youth and their communities.”
First Nations Trustee King said, “Our Board has a responsibility to our students to provide an inclusive and safe learning environment. Working together with our communities and bringing their voices forward will elevate the programs and services we can offer to First Nations students. We can do better, and this circle was a good start. I see the dedication of Board leadership in strengthening relations with our First Nations communities and I hope these relationships continue to strengthen moving forward.”
Trustees agree to adhere to Code of Conduct
As part of its commitment to good governance, a governance manual and code of conduct for trustees was developed in 2020. Annually, trustees must review the documents and agree to adhere to the code of conduct. Trustees did this at Tuesday’s meeting.
Trustees also voted to approve the development of governance policies regarding student trustees and trustee social media etiquette. Drafts are currently posted on the board’s website for public consultation.
Note: the full agenda package is posted on the website prior to meetings, and official minutes are posted after they are approved at the next board meeting.
For more information, please contact:
Deb Bartlett (she/her)
Near North District School Board
P. (705) 472-8170 ext. 5010