June 29th, 2020
As the 2019-2020 school year comes to a close, I am offered the opportunity to reflect on the challenges encountered, and more importantly, the challenges overcome this past school year. As we began our year together in September, I don’t think any of us could have predicted the path this school year would take, but I am so proud of the efforts of our staff and students to adapt while remaining committed to our strategic priorities and strategic plan.
When I look back at this past school year, one thing stands out: the overwhelming perseverance of our students, their families and our staff. This trait was demonstrated again and again. I saw it in the students who left their teachers, friends, classrooms and schools and adapted to an entirely new, distance learning environment. I saw it in our staff and educators who came together, working long hours to transition our entire system to teach and learn from a distance. I saw it in our Education Centre staff who worked tirelessly to ensure the continued operation of our organization. And I saw it in our community – from the families who took on a new, direct role supporting student learning, to organizations like Nutrition for Learning and Food4Kids that continue to ensure people in our community don’t go hungry. Thank you for approaching these unprecedented challenges with such courage and resolve and for always maintaining a willingness to adapt and to learn.
Committing to do more and do better in the name of equity, inclusion, human rights and social justice remains at the forefront of our approach to all we do – from the implementation of distance learning, to our current planning for reopening our schools. As you know, this month is Pride Month, and schools across our system are flying the Pride Flag as a celebration of diversity, signalling safe, caring and inclusive schools and workplaces to all of our students, staff and families.
That being said, we know that when it comes to confronting anti-Black racism in our system, we have more work to do. While we have all been engaging in work to acknowledge our own unconscious bias and privilege, we know that anti-Black racism and racial harassment, as well as other forms of bigotry, harassment and discrimination, exist within the education sector and within the WRDSB. To our current and former students who have shared, and continue to share their experiences: thank you. We hear you and we know we have to do better when it comes to identifying, addressing and eliminating discrimination, and racism in particular.
We are committed to continuing to work with students, families, staff, community members and stakeholders to ensure that each and every one of our students experience a learning environment that is free from discrimination. Thank you for working with us to build a better system for all.
As our students set out on a truly well-deserved summer break, I hope that you are all able to take this time to rest and recharge. Your efforts over the past months of distance learning, and throughout the challenges of this school year, have been truly impressive. To our graduating students, I hope each of you feels proud of all you overcame to reach this milestone. The skills you learned this year, and throughout your journey with the WRDSB, will help you experience success on whatever path you choose.
To the members of our staff who are retiring, I want to say thank you for all you have contributed to the WRDSB, public education and, most importantly, our students. I was saddened this year that we could not come together in person to celebrate you, our dedicated staff, but I want you to know that your efforts made life better for our students. As you embark upon your next adventure, I hope each of you carries with you pride in knowing you have shaped young minds and inspired lifelong learning.
To all of our staff, your tireless efforts helped to ensure our students had the opportunity to succeed and achieve their goals, even in the face of a global pandemic and rapid transition to distance learning. Our students benefited from the ability to continue their learning and had access to the latest technology, supports and resources they needed to succeed thanks to your efforts. Each day, our students set out to learn, knowing they had the support of a caring team of adults, eager to help them achieve their full potential. No matter your role in the WRDSB, take a moment to pause, reflect and acknowledge these accomplishments.
To the families of our students, thank you for continuing to be the most important partner in your child’s learning – a fact that has become even more apparent over the past months. While we may not have a clear picture of what learning will look like for the next school year, we all look forward to welcoming our students back to learning, with the well-being, health and safety of all as our top priority.
Director of Education