Education Week, Catholic Education Week celebrated across the region
Jesse Bonello - Staff Writer
Schools across the Keewatin-Patricia District School Board (KPDSB) and The Northwest Catholic District School Board (TNCDSB) celebrated Education Week and Catholic Education Week last week.
In the KPDSB, students and alumni working on the frontlines were celebrated throughout the week. Local schools in Sioux Lookout were using social media to display students and their work, and also encourage students with messages from staff members.
“We’ve been submitting photos of our current and past students from both Queen Elizabeth (District High School) and Sioux North (High School), who are working on the frontlines right now, to the school board. Those students are being shared on the KPDSB Facebook page. We also put out, at the start of this week, a staff video for our students. We really want to let them know that we miss them, that we’re thinking about them, and that we can’t wait until we can all be back under the roof as Warriors again,” said Jennifer McMaster, Sioux North High School (SNHS) Vice Principal.
“What we’re doing this week is we’re using social media to showcase some of the student work that’s happening from home, so we’ve had submissions this week. We had a student paint this really cool mask, so we put a picture of that on there and acknowledged him. We had another student who was doing a math lesson in the kitchen, and on May 4 he made Star Wars cupcakes and food so we acknowledged that,” said Darryl Tinney, Sioux Mountain Public School Principal.
In the TNCDSB, this year’s theme for Catholic Education week is Igniting Hope. The TNCDSB, and their schools, used social media and digital platforms to post videos and host activities based on this year’s theme.
“Our Catholicity Coordinator Mike Nerino is our person at the board level who is establishing that presence on social media for Catholic Education Week. He puts out a daily video for our students and students across the district. The theme this year for Catholic Education Week is Igniting Hope,” said Manuela Michelizzi, Sacred Heart School Pastoral Team Leader.
“We started off the week using our online platform for a way to get students actively working through the curriculum we’ve set on our online platforms. We’re using Google classroom and an app called Seesaw for our younger students. Our Catholicity teachers are providing students with a few different options and they’re getting out into the community, they’re participating in activities with their family, looking at being good stewards to the environment, spending time with your family, and igniting that hope in your community that things are going to improve,” she said.
Michelizzi said students at Sacred Heart School and across the TNCDSB celebrate the Virgin Mary throughout the month of May. She said the board wanted to still provide that for students, so they created a virtual living rosary.
“We’ve created a board-wide virtual living rosary. The living rosary is something we traditionally do across our district within our schools. In the past we’ve had the Knights of Columbus and the Catholic Women’s League be a part of that, and at our school we would go outside, stand in a circle, and classes would participate in the five decades of the rosary. Because we are not physically at school, the idea was to create a virtual living rosary that we could post online and our district, and our families, could follow along at home with. That set out our plan for having all of our schools in our board participate. We have five schools and there’s five decades of the rosary, so we divided it up between the teachers, staff, and the senior administration at the board level and we created that rosary. It’s on YouTube, and it’s on our board’s (@tncdsb) and school’s (@sacredheart.tncdsb) Facebook page,” said Michelizzi.
Typically, during this time of year, students transitioning from grade eight into high school would have the opportunity to visit the high school, meet staff, and select their courses. Last week SNHS shared they created an online transition portal to provide students important information to ease the transition process and help them feel confident as they head into high school.
“Typically, at this time of year, we’d have our students who are transitioning to high school visiting the high school on a number of occasions, getting to know our staff, the programs we have to offer, and doing their course selection. We really focus on relationship building and community building during that time, and we wanted to make sure our students still had access in gathering some of the information that will make them feel confident coming to school in September, hopefully, at Sioux North,” said McMaster.
“We put together this online transition portal that has different activities our students can take themselves through, and it has personal introductions to staff, descriptions of courses they can select from, they can complete their course selection online, look at some of the different rules, and even learn how to open up a lock. We’re really excited about the engagement we’ve been getting with this online transition portal.
“There’s a link shared on the parent information page on the transition portal, and from 6 to 7 p.m. on May 12 we’re going to have an online open house with our Sioux Lookout admin and our transition staff where we’ll be able to answer questions from parents and hopefully meet parents and students at that time,” she explained.
When asked about distance learning and staying connected with students digitally, local teachers and staff praised the support they received at the board level. They’ve also been excited to see students staying engaged with staff through digital platforms.
“Every time we get to communicate with the students and the families we’re really excited. It’s difficult because we know that in each home the reality is very different, and the access to even internet and devices looks different in every home, but we’re excited to see how many of our students are engaging weekly and daily with our school staff. We’re just happy to stay connected, and we want to make sure that our students and families know that we care, we’re still here to help with anything, and even if it’s not related to your classes we can still help connect to the services in the community that are open and running. Our hope is that we have stronger relationships than ever with our students and families when it is safe to return to school,” said McMaster.
“We’re very fortunate in the KPDSB that there was an amazing supporting distance learning tool put together for the teachers that has, in the first two weeks, allowed them to get support they needed to be prepared to kick off distance learning. It’s definitely a learning process for all of us, and we’re all adjusting to this new way of being because things take longer in a distance world then they do in a classroom setting. Our access to the hands-on portions of learning and the experiential learning is looking very different, but I’m really proud of how our staff are learning every week,” she explained.
“You can’t ever replace the connections that happen in our building with the routine, structure, relationships, and the learning... We’ve never gone through anything like this in our lifetime, but I’m really impressed and happy with the response from our school board and our staff on how quickly we mobilized something to provide learning from a distance, structure, routine, and predictability for students and families,” said Tinney.
“It’s been really awesome… It feels so good to see them (the students) excited, participating, and getting in on the conversation. It’s a really important part of the week, and it’s really great to see them,” said Natalie Northway, Sioux Mountain Public School kindergarten teacher.
As a part of Education Week, the KPDSB and Seven Generations Education Institute (SGEI) announced support for adult learners throughout the region.
In a news release on May 5, the KPDSB and SGEI said they launched a new adult learning online portal.
“The Keewatin-Patricia District School Board (KPDSB) and Seven Generations Education Institute (SGEI) are excited to launch a new online portal to support adult learners across the region. The new online portal - https://www.nwoadulted.com - is host to a wealth of information, including:
Pathways – Depending on the goals of each learner, the portal offers individual pathway planning in the following areas:
- Earning your high school diploma
- Upgrading for college or university
- Upgrading for
- Upgrading literacy skills
- Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR) – Adult learners may be closer than they think to reaching their goals. The new portal provides PLAR information for mature students including a credit calculator that can provide potential students with a senior credit estimate they can apply to their high school diploma.
- Course Selection –Adult learners can choose between university, university/college, college, and workplace preparation courses, as well as open courses for Grades 11 and 12.
- Success Stories – The portal includes a variety of success stories from past Adult Education graduates. By sharing their stories, we can celebrate our students’ achievements and inspire potential students to reach out and complete their high school education.
- Online Registration – There are a variety of ways to register for Adult Education through the portal, including a new online registration process.
- Contact Information – With numerous sites and locations in the region, the new portal includes location and contact information to support learners,” the news release states.
“We are so lucky to have this great partnership with Seven Generations Education Institute to provide Adult Education programming in our communities. This new portal is an excellent way to help interested adults know what is available. The PLAR assessment tool in particular helps potential students know how much their life experience is valued as part of the learning and really helps the goal of a high school diploma be that much more attainable,” said Sherri-Lynne Pharand, KPDSB Director of Education.