(September’s arrival and departure, that is.)

Wow, what a whirlwind September was for me and by the sound of it in the system, for many of our staff as well.  It seems like just yesterday we were preparing our classrooms, building plans for the year and welcoming our students back.

And here we are in October already.  September flew by, and as I’ve made my way around our schools over the past several weeks, I continue to hear that many others have felt the same as I do.  Some would say, “Time flies when you’re having fun!”  I’ve noticed that we are becoming more and more efficient at startup time – we get into routines faster than ever, we look after the details better than ever, and we communicate our expectations and goals for students much faster than ever – all things that I think lend to excellent learning environments for our students.  Within all of the goings on, I do hope we all take the time to reflect on our work and the profound impact we have every day on our students and their families.

Our start this year has not only been a blur, but it’s been filled with great news stories.  At all levels, from our earliest learners to our students who enrol in one of our Alternate Education programs, I know extraordinary means are undertaken every day to ensure the best possible outcomes can be achieved.

Our students in the elementary panel had one of their best years overall with EQAO assessments, with three of the six categories showing our best scores ever and one of them being our second best ever.  We continue to see some challenges for our students when it comes to the mathematics component of the assessment, but I have great confidence that we will find the right balance between independent practice, problem solving, and group work for our students.  It would seem that we (TLDSB and across the province, given the trends) might not have that balance quite right at this time.  I’m also confident in our internal capacity to figure this dilemma out.  We have the talent and the knowledge about good pedagogy right here in TLDSB and I look forward to seeing the outcome of our increased focus on mathematics.

In the secondary world, our students continue to shine.  Our academic students are on par with the province, and our applied students continue to outpace the rest of the province by a substantial margin – something I attribute directly to the enhanced focus on student success that our staff has undertaken.

We welcomed even more early learners into the system this September as we continue to roll out Full Day Kindergarten in our schools.  I’m always amazed at what I see in those classrooms when it comes to exploration, creativity and the development of literacy skills through play, independent and group activity.  The fact that we see very young children achieving such success is not only inspiring, but also highly motivating for all of us.  I’m convinced we will see long term, sustained success for our students because they have had such a great opportunity available to them through this initiative and through the work of our teams in those classrooms.

With October upon us, it’s also time for Program Enhancement Applications to come our way.  I’m looking forward to seeing the creative and innovative ways our staff members  want to enhance the school experiences for our students.  Every year, our Trustees receive applications that are designed to make our schools all that much better for our students, and I’m sure this year will be no different.  A reminder that those applications are due October 15, in case anyone doesn’t know about this opportunity.

I’d also like to comment on another success story that I believe deserves mention, and that is related to our community partners.  Over the past several years, we’ve worked hard to open our doors to our agency partners and service providers.  Our overarching goal has been to increase availability and accessibility of supports and services to our students, and I want to commend everyone who has played a role in helping us work toward that goal.  While there may occasionally be some things we can’t do, I believe we have made great strides toward creating schools that are seen as hubs in many communities across the board.  We will continue to focus on this as we move forward and as we all see the tremendous benefits that come from having supports and services available right in our schools.

On a final note, I wish everyone a wonderful fall, and I look forward to seeing and hearing from you on my visits or through email over the course of the coming weeks.

Larry Hope
Director of Education