Feb, 22, 2013 news update – TDSB Trustee Pamela Gough’s Office

Following message is from Trustee Gough’s Office:

Sent on behalf of Trustee Pamela Gough:

Ward 3 Trustee Pamela Gough’s Update February 22, 2013

Premier Kathleen Wynne was sworn in on Tuesday, marking a new beginning in provincial labour relations with teacher unions. Extracurriculars will be returning to high schools as early as next Monday (see below) – very welcome news indeed.

As difficult as the last year has been, the Bill 115 provincial government-teachers union turmoil has brought out resolve on the part of students to have their voices heard. This week, the Ontario Student Trustees Association, headed by TDSB student trustee Hirad Zafari, unveiled an initiative that allows students to become part of a province-wide network to access newsletters and student voice forums. Students plan to become far more active in understanding and expressing their opinions on the education system that serves them.

Parents have been steadfast in their support of students and their schools. It was very heartwarming to see about 400 school council chairs at Thursday’s TDSB Parent Involvement Advisory Committee annual dinner. At our Ward 3 table, parents from many schools enjoyed a delicious dinner, interesting guest speakers and a chance to network informally. Our Ward 3 PIAC representative, Laurie Green, spoke to the assembly on the importance of parent advocacy. Thanks to everyone who came!

 In this issue:

·     High school teacher leaders vote to return extracurriculars

·     PROmoting family literacy with PRO grants: March 19 at Park Lawn JMS

·     TDSB student census gives snapshot of students’ lives

·     ESA hosts guest speaker on teenage anxiety Feb. 26

·     Bloorlea Red Cross babysitting course April 6

·     Crowdsource fundraising with My Class Needs Foundation

·     New guide to schoolgrounds that connect children with nature

·     Nominations now open for teacher, principal, support worker awards

·     TIFF Jump Cuts Young Filmmakers Showcase accepting submissions

1.    High school teacher leaders vote to return extracurriculars

On Friday, the provincial council of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation voted to recommend that teachers return to offering extracurricular activities. Needless to say, this is very good news for our high school students, who benefit greatly from activities such as clubs, dances and sports teams. Activities may be resuming as early as next Monday in some schools.

2.    PROmoting family Literacy with PRO grants: March 19 at Park Lawn JMS

Our next ward forum will be focused on best practices in family literacy/school library initiatives and how to secure funding to support them. Engage Literacy, a group dedicated to supporting school libraries and literacy, will give a presentation on ways to increase literacy initiatives in your school. This will be followed by a workshop on how to successfully apply for up to $1000 in provincial Parent Reaching Out (PRO) grants, which all school councils are eligible for, and which can be used for family literacy events.

School Councils who have successfully applied for PRO grants in the past, please bring your grant applications to share ideas with other schools who may be new to the process. Childcare and snacks will be provided. If you need childcare, please rsvp to Debbie.Wagdin@tdsb.on.ca

Where: Park Lawn JMS, 71 Ballacaine Drive (Berry Road/Park Lawn), Library

When: Tuesday, March 19, 7 pm to 8:45 pm

Please see the flyer attached to this newsletter and distribute widely.

3.    TDSB student census gives snapshot of students’ lives

One of the benefits of being a mega-board is that the TDSB is able to do research in ways that other boards cannot. This week, the TDSB released the results of the largest student survey ever done in Canada, with 103,000 students from Grades 7 to 12 taking part. The survey is wide-ranging. It shows student perceptions of teachers, their physical health and eating habits, out-of-school activities, cultural background and racial affiliations, and many other aspects of their lives.

Some findings are heartening: 90% feel their backgrounds are respected, 72% feel confident in literacy, and 92% feel safe in class. A full 83% have had their eyesight tested and 51% have had their hearing tested, with the help of new pediatric clinics located in some schools. Many are now eating breakfast and lunch because of school nutrition programs.

Alarmingly, though, many students in high school reported high levels of stress and anxiety about their futures. Physically, 76% said they had difficulty concentrating some or all of the time, 57% reported losing sleep because of their worries, and 47% felt they were unable to overcome their difficulties. Even more problematically, almost half of high school students reported not feeling comfortable seeking help from any adult in their school. Clearly this is a call for action to connect students more closely to their teachers during this crucial stage in development. These findings will form the basis of a new mental health strategy to be developed by TDSB staff.

Results of the survey are available school by school and principals should be discussing their results with school councils as part of school improvement plans. You can access the full survey here.

4.    ESA hosts guest speaker on student anxiety: Feb. 26

Etobicoke School of the Arts is hosting a parent information session on the topic of “Adolescent Anxiety: A Guide for Parents,” with guest speaker Dr. Taylor Armstrong of the George Hull Centre. All welcome. Those planning to attend are asked to rsvp to Leeja.anderson@sympatico.ca.

Where: Etobicoke School of the Arts, 675 Royal York Road (Queensway/Royal York), Library

When: Tuesday February 26, 7:30 pm

5.    Bloorlea Red Cross babysitting course April 6

NEW! I will be hosting a full-day Red Cross babysitting course on Saturday, April 6th at Bloorlea Middle School. The course is aimed at students 11-15 years old and will give them the basics of babysitting and how to start their own babysitting business. Students will receive a certificate upon completion. More details to follow.

6.    Crowdsource fundraising with My Class Needs Foundation

Does your school have innovative teachers who want to try exciting new class projects but lack funds to run them? The My Class Needs Foundation, an affiliate of the non-profit organization Curriculum Services Canada, has developed a way to access crowdsource fundraising to support class projects by supplying the resources needed from interested outside donors. Find out more here.

7.    New guide to schoolgrounds that connect children to nature

Schoolyard greening has just received a huge boost with the publication of a new, free, and very comprehensive design guide for kindergarten play-learning environments. Called Landscape and Child Development, this resource guide shows how to design and build landscapes that nurture child development and connect young children to nature in meaningful ways. It was launched last week by TDSB’s Environmental Sustainability Office and Evergreen Foundation. Access the guide here.

8.    Nominations now open for teacher, principal, support worker awards

Do you know an outstanding educator, school administrator, or school support worker? Nominate them for an award! Ward 3 has many dedicated and outstanding people working in its schools. Check out my trustee website here for a comprehensive list of awards available.

9.    TIFF Jump Cuts Young Filmmakers Showcase accepting submissions

The 16th annual TIFF Kids International Film Festival takes place from April 9 to 21, 2013. TIFF Kids is now accepting submissions for the Jump Cuts Young Filmmakers Showcase, which presents short films created for young people by young people. Jump Cuts is open to young filmmakers in Grades 4 to 8. Deadline: Friday, March 1, 2013. For more information, click here.


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