Commitment to Multi-Year Plan
As an organization our ongoing presentations with our public and trustees have focused on our work and the connections to our Multi-Year Plan. Last month both our Human Resources(HR) and Business Superintendents provided an overview of their work and the connections to our Multi-Year Plan. The highlights of those presentations and the connections to our priorities, goals and values are highlighted below:
Re: Transportation Presentation:
Excellence in Teaching and in the Learning Environment: Ensuring Equity: Support and celebrate diversity of students and provide access to resources, tech and experiences that meet students’ strengths and needs; and, Excellence in Communication:
The Transportation presentation highlighted the ways in which staff have, over the last number of years developed guidelines and processes that have established a more equitable and transparent access to busing for our students. The established guidelines ensure that a consistent and fair approach is applied across the district. However, it is as important to note that where special circumstances arise or needs of students are unsupported by the guideline as written, the appeal process is in place which allows again, in a very transparent and protocoled way, a means of achieving these supports.
As well, the Chair of the Consortium has established strong relations with all of the Directors of Education about his vision and how to both improve service delivery and attain efficiencies. Our Superintendent of Business sits on the Board of Directors.
Excellence in Alignment of Resources: Ensure efficiency, accountability ad transparency in Business Operations departments; and, Establish, maintain and nurture partnerships:
Our partnership with the consortium is well established but one that requires much work to ensure that communication is strong, and established guidelines understood and adhered to by all parties. Trust is the foundation of any strong partnership and the trust that has developed by all players that are involved in this work is paramount to its successful outcomes. The consortium have worked diligently to identify efficiencies that have improved service delivery while reducing costs.
Re: Human Resources Presentation:
The Board requires a strong and proactive HR department in order to achieve excellence from their workforce. Specifically, healthy and respectful relationships developed alongside our staff and union partners are critical to the functioning of our Board. During these times of regular change in employment standards, contracts, and generally, in the expectations of the workforce of a large organization, this requires significant focus and leadership from this department.
Achieving Excellence – Become a learning and research driven board:
The HR department relies heavily on effective data to make decisions, recommend investments, and support staff. Specifically, comprehensive data are used to measure employee absenteeism rates, labour negotiations, hiring, retention and recruitment, and much more. Further, much of the work of HR is predicated on case law as we need to ensure our efforts are understood under the most up-to-date legislation. The team consistently reaches out to other boards, legislation and legal to ensure we mitigate risk for the board in not mis-stepping in a costly manner.
The duty to provide a personalized and accommodated workplace for our employees is ever growing. Recognizing the Human Rights Code, Collective Agreement language or employment legislation and regulation, ensuring equitable outcomes are central to the work of the HR team. In an interesting way, the best way to access equitable outcomes is to start at the same place with everyone and then to consider the challenges that many of our staff may have in a way that is driven by strong guidelines, protocols and HR law. The team holds itself to a high level of commitment to this work to again ensure mitigated risk to the board.
Promoting Well – Being: Ensure safe and healthy learning environments
All formal and systemic employee wellness activity starts in our HR department and the work of our Wellness Committee which puts out a regular newsletter. This work remains a key priority for our HR department as they embark upon a new Mental Health and Resiliency program for Employee Wellness. Making efforts to celebrate employee achievements and provide recognition is a common practice and systemic goal of our HR team.
Ensure efficiency, accountability and transparency in all departments and schools; and Promote a culture based on trusting relationships, professional reflection, shared responsibility and thoughtful action:
Our HR team has recognized the need to focus on our relationships with our union partners to ensure they were as healthy and respectful as could be given our understood roles and responsibilities. The HR team has been held to a high level of accountability, and professionalism to ensure this goal has not only been matched, it has been surpassed. Our union partnerships are stronger than ever. Hiring practices were tightened and transparency of effort and follow through on hiring’s was achieved. Guidelines were rewritten to capture this work and feedback loops with our union partners were incorporated at the drafting stage. As well our negotiations throughout the last years have been healthy and non-personal with a strong emphasis for managers to understand the importance of “our” collective agreements (not theirs). HR becomes, through the grievance process, the watchdog for all things accountable and transparent in all departments and schools.
Student Recognition and Achievement
Art Student Recognized:
A young student from Chippewa is making a statement. Thank you to Catherine Beatty, Chippewa IB Arts student who has shared the images she worked on and submitted to Amelia Rising. They contacted her saying that they would like to use the image. It is most powerful! Thank you for allowing us to view your thinking Catherine, on this incredible piece.
The exhibition text titled “Dragged Down Under” belongs to this image. Below is Catherine’s original curatorial rationale and the overall picture of her exhibition.
The White Ribbon of Hope
The white ribbon is the symbol of empowerment for women in hopes of terminating the acts of patriarchy and societal compulsion. As much as the white ribbon intertwines with many women across the globe, patriarchy and compulsion to fit into a certain mold are still dominant in modern society. Women distort their appearances to become a character of their own persona in order to gain recognition on social platforms such as Instagram. The drive of likes and views are what controls them to become something they aren’t. Just like a movie they change themselves in order to please the audience, but do they even know who they are anymore? In the book Educated by Tara Westover “John Stuart Mill claimed that women have been coaxed, cajoled, shoved and squashed into a series of feminine contortions for so many centuries, that it is now quite impossible to define their natural abilities or aspirations.” Just like John Stuart Mill I wanted to establish how women have been controlled by society and the difficulty they had to face to try to gain complete control on themselves. In my exhibition you will travel alongside the white ribbon to view the battle with compulsion women are engaged in until it has reached its final destination… This destination will be the commencement of a new era where women will become empowered and fight for their freedom. Get ready to dive into the life of a women and experience how society tries to control them as if they were robots. Although there are many hardships women will eventually triumph over all. “Happily, ever after” is a cast of a female hand who is holding the end of the white ribbon. The pink hand and the white ribbon pay homage to the idea of celebrating femininity and the commencement of female empowerment. I want my exhibition to take the viewer on a journey and allow them to consider a “women’s place” in society and the expectations society places on women.
Staff Recognition and Achievement
Special Olympics Award:
Congratulations to Rob Saunders. Rob has been an outstanding supporter of Special Olympics working as a volunteer since 1982 on top of the dedicated work he oversees at Widdifield Secondary School. He started the Schools Special Olympics programs with 20 athletes – we are now up to 130 athletes!
On March 25, 2019, 50 communities celebrated Special Olympics Day, led by one of Special Olympics largest partners in the province – local Law Enforcement. As part of our commitment in the year-long celebration of the 50th year, Special Olympics Ontario identified 50 of its members who received an award in one of four categories: CHAMPION, BUILDER, PARTNER or STAR.
Rob was chosen in the BUILDER category, for a person who exemplifies leadership, dedication, perseverance, and impact as a leader within the Special Olympics movement. We are all so very proud of Rob being named the recipient of the Builder Award for his services with Special Olympics. He is an extraordinary educator!
OMEA (Ontario Music Educators’ Association) Recognition
With great pleasure I share with you the following excerpt from a letter just received from OMEA recognizing Chippewa’s own Marla Sundstrum:
Marla currently holds an executive position on our OMEA board of director’s as our web resources director. She has made an incredible impact during her tenure with our organization with her leadership on this new portfolio by organizing our hundreds of resources for our members and responding to their requests for support. Marla has also been a valuable member of many conference committees recently, leading our registration team. Marl’s expertise, drive and passion for music education continues to help our organization grow as a vital subject and provincial association.
We couldn’t agree more with this insight and are so very proud of Marla’s recognition though OMEA!
Terry Fox Fundraising Milestone
We are proud to announce that the Near North District School Board family of schools have reached an incredible fundraising milestone of $500,000.00 to date. This milestone was achieved through the hard work and dedication of all our staff and students. The Terry Fox Foundation has offered congratulations on this inspiring achievement and provided milestone plaque which will be displayed at our Board office.
Capital Projects Update
Parry Sound K-12 Update
We continue to move forward with our planning for our K-12 Ministry funded school in Parry Sound. Our Capital Planning team meet regularly to update and address the needs of the space template and are working alongside the Ministry to ensure we are meeting all expectations. We look forward to bringing timely updates to this project as things unfold.