The Waterloo Catholic District School Board supports a range of initiatives to facilitate student success in secondary schools — and in the transition to secondary schools — with the understanding that every student learns in their own way.

Ontario’s high schools – including our own St. David CSS, Resurrection CSS, St. Benedict CSS, Monsignor Doyle CSS and St. Mary’s H.S. (with the support of our St. Louis Adult Learning & Continuing Education Centres and St. Don Bosco CSS) — are working with communities, employers, colleges, universities and training centers to offer more ways than ever to help students focus on their interests and support their learning.

The goal is to meet the needs, interests and strengths of all students and provide equitable opportunities and positive outcomes that engage students in their learning and better prepare them for graduation and a post-secondary destination — be it an apprenticeship in a skilled trade, college, community supported living, university, or the workplace.

And the WCDSB’s Experiential Learning programs which support that vital goal, are among the most robust in all of Ontario!

Here are some facts and stats about the various available WCDSB Experiential Learning and skill-building options:

Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) 

  • Fifty-one sector-specific Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) programs accommodated 1,282 students in 2021-22.
  • The board’s total SHSM footprint is 33% – which remains one of the highest footprints in the province.
  • Students enrolled in the Specialist High Skills Major program have a higher 4-year graduation rate than their peers who are not in SHSM.

Cooperative Education (Co-op) Program & Apprenticeship 

Through Co-op our students continue to:

  • Participate in a learning experience connected to a community.
  • Reflect on the experience to derive meaning from it.
  • Apply their learning to influence their decisions and actions in various aspects of their lives.

Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP)

Dual Credit

  • The goal of Dual Credit Programs is to support students in the achievement of their OSSD and to provide a successful transition to a college and/or apprenticeship program. In partnership with the School College Work Initiative (SCWI) and Conestoga College, the Waterloo Catholic District School Board offers five Dual Credit programs. Each of these programs include experiential learning and in particular, Cooperative Education.
  • In 2021-22, Dual Credit programs were offered face-to-face on Conestoga College campuses or fully online for portions of the school year. The four WCDSB Dual Credit Teachers supported 59 students in their 103 Dual Credit courses.
  • The overall success rate in these college courses was 92% and the graduation rate for this group of students was 81%.

The wide variety of technology programs available to students at St. Mary’s High School (SMH) provide an excellent illustration of the WCDSB’s student success initiatives in action.

There are 1,675 students enrolled in the various SMH technology programs – an average of approximately 24 students per program section.

Importantly, there is an intentional focus on providing the required staff support and physical resources necessary to ensure equitable access for Multilingual Learner (ML) or Multilingual Language Learner (MLL) students and students with special needs.

The programs focus on the following disciplines – providing practical trades skills and theoretical learning related to each program:

  • Construction (9 sections)
  • Transportation (9 sections)
  • Cosmetology (7 sections)
  • Health Care Technology (7 sections)
  • Hospitality – Culinary (7 sections)
  • Hospitality – Baking (6 sections)
  • Computer Engineering (5 sections)
  • Grade 9 Integrated Technology (5 sections)
  • Custom Woodworking (4 sections)
  • Manufacturing (4 sections)
  • Technological Design (4 sections)
  • Communication Technology (4 sections)
  • Robotics (2 sections)
  • Fashion Design (2 sections)
  • Animation (1 section)
  • Child and Elder Care (1 section)
  • Green Industries (1 section)

 Among the practical skills learned in the various programs are:

  • Trim and Framing Carpentry
  • Electrical Wiring and Plumbing
  • Automotive Service Technician
  • Welding, Precision Machining, and Millwrighting
  • Film-making and Animation
  • Sewing
  • Culinary Essentials and Baking
  • Electronics
  • Hairstyling, Barbering and Makeup

And the programs continue to grow. Two additional teachers have been hired in th