We’re building a public education system that serves the needs of all students hand-in-hand with the students we serve. This means putting them at the centre of our work as we make decisions that impact their opportunities for achievement, learning and growth. We’re committed to centring their ideas, feedback and voices as we collaborate in the creation of a public school system where every student has a sense of connection and belonging at school.
Our goal of centring students requires a focus on supporting equitable access, opportunities and outcomes for all students. This means providing increased resources and measures to support the success of Indigenous, Black, racialized and marginalized students. It means holding true to our commitments to address the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action.
In 2023, we saw students centered in countless ways across our system. Not only did we launch a new Student Agency and Voice plan, students are now directly supporting us in sharing news from their schools, with the new #StudentVoice series. So far, students from Grade 4 to Grade 12 have provided us first-hand accounts of their achievement and learning experiences in a range of subjects, from hip-hop and poetry to student leadership.
Students across the system demonstrated their skills and abilities as leaders, including at the Board table. In May, Ontario Public School Boards’ Association (OPSBA) and the Public Board Council of OSTA-AECO announced that Kenzy Soror and Vaishnave Raina, student trustees of WRDSB, were the recipients of the 2023 Ontario Public Student Trustee Leadership Scholarship.
Kenzy and Vaishnave were recognized for their instrumental contributions to creating a new student trustee election process. The voting process, which was implemented in the February 2023 student trustee election, ensured accessibility, transparency, equity, and inclusivity for all WRDSB secondary students. It was a stunning example of student voices helping to centre the voices of their peers across Waterloo Region.
Students at Groh Public School in Kitchener were centred in their learning journey thanks to a design thinking approach used by their teachers. We first caught up with the students in December 2022, as they set out with the goal of improving the experiences of newcomers in their community. Groups of students in the class created proposals to address a need, and pitched it to a panel of Smart Waterloo Region Innovation Lab (SWRIL) representatives. Four groups received funding, and put their plans into action.
In September 2023, their plans became reality, with the Groh Global Gala showcasing the efforts of the four groups. Their projects included the Groh Global Gala event itself, a children’s book called “Deliciously Different”, the addition of community-building murals throughout the school, and the creation of a podcast focused on sharing the voices of those in the school community. Vihaan, one of the students behind the Gala, explained that the result of their learning was about more than just receiving a mark.
“The project helps people, it’s not just about a test,” said Vihaan. “It brings something to the community.”
Students in the WRDSB continue to be recognized for their academic excellence along with the strength and clarity of their voices. Jomi Oyediran, a student at Cameron Heights Collegiate Institute (CHCI) in Kitchener received the Capstone Scholarship to support her studies in Political Science at Howard University in Washington, D.C.
Oyediran’s ability to bring people together to share their own voices stood out to her teachers, including her History teacher Fraser Haig, who saw her ability to foster meaningful discussions amongst her peers on historic and contemporary topics.
“I am always impressed by her effort and her contributions to class discussions,” said Haig. “Through grace, kindness and empathy, Jomi builds bridges and helps bring people together to seek greater understanding.”
Read more about how we’re centring students in WRDSB: