Larry Hope, Director of Education
The Trillium Lakelands District School Board vision statement, Better Together, and our multi-year strategic plan slogan, Embrace Learning, resonates with many of us as we try to incorporate these ideals into our daily work and home lives. The board of trustees at the inception of Trillium Lakelands District School Board agreed that Better Together described our collective and ongoing capacity to strive together as communities and as staff and parents to provide the supports, resources, and environment where our children have everything they need to succeed in post-secondary education or the world of work. We came together two years ago as educators, parents, and community members to develop a comprehensive strategic plan for TLDSB. Embrace Learning encapsulates all the priorities contained within that plan.
What is our collective responsibility when it comes to these powerful words?
Our students get it … do we? I spent several months last year purposefully listening to the voices of secondary students. I also offered the opportunity for parents to come and share with me their thoughts on the education of their child. While it was easier to gather a significant group of students from each high school than it was to entice parents to come to a meeting, I was profoundly moved by the passion and emphasis our students and parents placed on high expectations. Our students want us to push them to be their very best. They told me they do better when the achievement bar is set high. I’d like us all to think about this – in our role as educators, but also in our most important role as parents and community members. Do we have high expectations for our young people or are we lowering the bar? Are we underestimating the confidence and work ethic of our young people?
I know how easy it is to lower the bar – we’re tired, there are myriad distractions, and there’s seemingly too much to do. We cannot let go of the need for high expectations to be a priority for all of us. For our students to be successful when they leave our schools, they must have the knowledge, skills, ability and most of all the confidence that they have risen to the challenge along the way. As the adults in their lives, it is our responsibility to present that challenge and to have high expectations of our young people. This can start with the very young where basic academic, social, and behavioural expectations are presented. As they move through primary to junior and intermediate grades, expectations of increased autonomy, independent learning, and active citizenship will lead to secondary school students who are able to set and achieve goals for themselves.
Staff at TLDSB are well aware of my current focus on high expectations. I am challenging all adults – educators and parents alike – to view our young people through this lens. Even if you do not currently have a child in the public school system, you meet them in the grocery store, on the street, at sporting events. We will all be Better Together if we expect the best. For our students to Embrace Learning we need to set the bar high, support them as they reach their potential, and celebrate their success along the way.
Please join me in sharing this message of high expectations in your home, in your community, with your colleagues, and most importantly with the children in your lives. Together we will raise a generation of young people who will be well prepared for the world ahead.