Catholic schools exist to support the evangelizing mission of the Church. Catholic parents send their children to Catholic schools with certain expectations. The overriding expectation is that their child will experience education permeated with religious values, religious instruction and be invited to participate in the sacramental life of the church. They also expect that Catholic values will be held, modeled, expressed, and taught within the Catholic educational community.
Our three-year pastoral plan supports and animates the faith life of students and staff in the WCDSB. Additionally, our Multi-Year Strategic Plan indicates that nurturing our Catholic community will be a priority area with opportunities to bear witness to our faith through joyful discipleship and our relationships with and in Christ as an essential strategic direction. To this end, we endeavor to provide opportunities to live out and inform our faith through implementation of our Pastoral Plan, which is informed by the Ontario Bishops’ pastoral letter, Renewing the Promise.
As our three-year pastoral plan, Called to Belong, Gathered to Become and Sent to Build came to a successful conclusion, we embarked upon a deep dive into developing another spirit led, three-year Pastoral Plan to animate our system. With the help of a diverse staff, representing all employee groups, we went to work, meeting, listening, and praying to ascertain where the spirit was moving up. It became clear that the next WCDSB three-year Pastoral Plan needed to provide an encouraging and uplifting message to our staff, students and families that would help usher us from pandemic, and provide healing, and spark.
Thus, we arrived at our Year One theme, AWAKEN, fueled by scripture “It is now the moment for you to wake from sleep” (Romans 13:11), and animated by the charge, “We are the People of God, diverse yet united, awakened to heal in Community! With this in mind, we move forward into our next Three-Year Pastoral Cycle (Awaken, Strengthen, Ignite)!
As we move further into our year of Awakening, we begin with two key initiatives:
Each school will receive the Pastoral AWAKEN painting, and during that time they will have the opportunity to engage with some hopeful and age-appropriate resources to support the work Pope Francis has asked us to do with respect to Walking Together.
Each school community will receive a signed PRINT of the painting which will reside at their school – and which will be auctioned off on or around Catholic Education Week, with funds going to support the Diocesan Reconciliation Fund and the Native Women’s Association who has done much work around the issue of Human Trafficking and Indigenous women.
The Information Technology Services (ITS) department had a very busy Summer preparing for the 2022/23 school year. The focus in the classroom was preparing for a full return to in person learning and having technology updated and ready for this. Security has also been a big focus in educating WCDSB staff and digital citizenship for students.
ITS successfully completed many technology related projects and initiatives that aligned with the Multi-Year Strategic Plan, which will enable staff and students to excel in the coming year in these unique times.
While the COVID-19 experience has posed many challenges for students and staff, it has also provided many opportunities for positive change.
The report presented on October 3, 2022 provided details regarding the following key learning renewal priorities:
Tutoring Supports Program
Integrating Science and Technology with Math and Literacy: Sept. 2, 2022, Cross-Curricular Learning
Supporting the Development of Foundational Early Reading Skills Through Evidence-Based Systematic and Explicit Instructional Strategies
The outcome for the Tutoring Supports Program is to support academic achievement and well-being for students at risk who have been impacted by learning disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The short-term outcomes for the program included:
Achievement of students as measured by the tutoring program
Improve literacy and math skills in students to promote learning recovery and help address achievement and skills development gaps.
Increase students’ engagement in learning
Increase students’ confidence and positive attitudes to learning
Elementary: Tutoring Support Program (April – June 16, 2022)
521 students registered to take part in the in-school tutoring program.
38 Elementary schools participated
5622- 1-hour sessions occurred
Secondary: School Tutoring Drop-In Program (April – June 16, 2022)
1246 students utilized the drop in tutoring support
5 Secondary schools participated in the in-school tutoring program
The 2020-2021 school year was like no other. Students were impacted by many school closures and the transition to online learning. Across the province many more students than in years past disengaged from their learning — exhibiting an increase in truancy, a drop in achievement and observed changes in their attitude towards school.
Many groups of students were disproportionately affected by the pandemic. Students identifying as Indigenous, Black and racialized, children and youth in care, students from low-income households, those with disabilities, special education needs, mental health needs as well as English language learners were identified as those who would benefit from additional support.
The Ministry of Education provided funding for the 2021-2022 school year to school boards to increase support to families to address gaps in learning, systemic barriers and disconnection with the school community. In budget deliberations during the Spring of 2021 the WCDSB’s senior team made the decision to augment these funds and create a specialized team that would provide concentrated support to families and students by identifying needs and assets, collaborating with all stakeholders and supporting the development and facilitation of an individualized re-engagement plan.
2021-22 WCDSB Re-engagement Team – Grades 7 to 12
The re-engagement team’s goals for the 2021-2022 school year were to:
Provide support to students experiencing disadvantages as a result of systemic barriers and COVID-19
Build on existing supports by providing concentrated intervention, collaboration with stakeholders and community resources
Develop individualized plans for students to reconnect with their school community
Re-engage students who have languished in their learning and attendance
In total, there were 121 referrals made for re-engagement services. The majority of the referrals were made at the start of the school year and the majority of students referred were in Grade 10 followed closely by Grade 11.
A variety of activities were undertaken to help re-engage students. Using the categories provided by the Ministry of Education, students were supported to feel included and belong at school, engaged in ways that are student centered, connected to caring adults in their learning community, deal with their learning disruption, and connect with supports in the greater community.
Re-engagement Strategy for the 2022-23 School Year
For the 2022-23 school year the Re-engagement Strategy has shifted to include a centrally assigned reengagement teacher dedicated to grade 7 and 8 students, re-engagement sections assigned at each secondary school, and a re-engagement social worker. Based on the collaboration, consultation, and learning that came from the 2021-22 Re-engagement strategy, it became clear that there is a greater need for re-engagement support.
To best meet the needs of the students we examined options and decided that the secondary schools have a variety of supports in place that can assist in continuing the mission of re-engaging students for success.
Each year, a concerted effort is made by WCDSB staff to assist students in danger of not graduating to gain sufficient credits to earn their Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD). Key components of that work include:
Lists are generated (Early Leavers Reports) of Year 5 Cohorts who have not graduated and are currently not on roll. Year 6 and 7 Cohorts lists generated as well.
Lists are generated from each school of Year 5 cohorts currently on roll at each school.
Individual Reports are generated for each high school (WCDSB, Non-WCDSB, Early Leavers, and Year 6 and 7 Cohorts).
Meet with Guidance department at each high school to review potential re-engagement students. A brief history of the former student and a potential Pathway to Graduation.
Re-Engagement Officer attempts to connect with all potential re-engagement students from Year 5, 6 and 7 Cohort lists.
Prior to contacting Credit Counseling Summary is consulted to check the needs of the school board leaver. This will identify if the leaver needs compulsory and/or elective credits.
When contacting a student, options are presented will generally be St Louis for compulsory credits and OSSLT.
If working and Elective credits are needed, they are directed to an Experiential Learning Coop program. If a credit swap is an option – Re-Engagement Officer connects with the Guidance contact at the home school.
The co-op teacher also supports students in finding work, resumes, tracking hours completed, and submitting credits with the home school.
The Re-Engagement Officer follows each individual throughout the program.
Support is also given with Volunteer opportunities in the community.
The program is now available to Year 4 and even Year 3 students on roll who are falling behind in credits (in collaboration with school re-engagement and caseload teams). If they are working their Pathway will be blended with in-school programming for compulsory credits and Coop for elective credits.