At WRDSB, it’s our goal to reimagine and transform public education to create a system where identity and social location are no longer determining factors in student outcomes. We know it’s not an easy task, given this has been the way public education has worked since it began. The numbers continue to show that a disproportionate number of Indigenous, Black, racialized, queer, students in special education and students coming out of poverty do not reach their full potential in school.
We know we can change this. It means ensuring that all students have the resources, supports and opportunities they need to be successful. We can help to ensure that identity is no longer a factor in outcomes for those we serve, by providing equitable access to learning experiences for students from all backgrounds. All students must have the chance to achieve their full potential on their academic pathway.
In June 2023, we saw the return of the Multilingual Language Learners (MLL) camp for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic. Hosted over three days at Hidden Acres Mennonite Camp, the camp brought together Grade 5 and 6 students who have been in Canada for less than three years.
The MLL team designed the day camp for Grade 5 and 6 students who have been in Canada for less than three years. During the three days, attendees enjoy an array of activities. This year’s camp hosted 200 students from more than 30 WRSB schools. The students participated in high and low ropes challenges, archery and tie-dye.
Sharon Newmaster, an ESL/ELD Consultant from the MLL department, expressed her delight at being able to once again, invite students out to the camp.
“It’s been a challenging few years due to the pandemic. We are thrilled to finally be able to offer this experience to our students again,” said Newmaster. “The camp provides them with new and exciting activities. It also allows them to build relationships and embrace their cultural backgrounds.”
At WRDSB, we want every student to feel like they belong, and we know that language plays a key role in creating welcoming spaces. We strive to create a language-friendly environment in every school. To help, we created the Language Friendly Schools Poster, with ideas for helping to welcome all languages in WRDSB schools. Copies of this poster will be shared with our schools.
In February 2023, on International Mother Language Day, jeewan chanicka, director of education and Crissa Hill, superintendent of student achievement and well-being, came together to share their thoughts about the importance of language to identity and how they connect us to who we are.
We know that the task of transforming public education to better support all students is not a task we can accomplish alone. In early spring 2023, Executive Officer Eusis Dougan-Mckenzie, Human Rights Advisor Deepa Ahluwalia and Director jeewan chanicka had the opportunity to meet with members of Adventure4Change, to learn more about their experiences of the work happening at schools.
Adventure4Change is a community-minded organization that offers programming for children, youth, parents and families to become more engaged in the community and help grow vibrant neighbourhoods across the Waterloo region. Their mission is to contribute to a changing world by supporting those who are most marginalized in our community.
It was an opportunity to discuss the incredible work the group is doing to support children and families, as well as our shared goals in ensuring student achievement and belonging and making sure families experience a sense of belonging and inclusion in the WRDSB community.
In May 2023, ten Grade 12 students from across the WRDSB received the Past-Directors’ Bursary, awarded to students pursuing a post-secondary pathway in the trades through college or an apprenticeship. It’s one part of our efforts to foster excellence as we support Waterloo Region’s next generation of skilled tradespeople.
Chairperson Joanne Weston expressed her pride in the students who received the 2022-23 Past-Directors’ Bursary. “We are thrilled to offer this bursary to deserving students who have exhibited tremendous potential in pursuing a trade career. By investing in their education, we hope to enable their success and contribute to the growth of skilled trades in our community.”
Read more about how we’re working to create equitable opportunities and outcomes: