When I took on the role of Director General 10 months ago, I knew the learning curve would be steep. I have spent this school year seeking to better understand the people and structures that make up this fine organization, all in pursuit of improving the learning and work environments for the students, staff, and families we serve.
We can be proud of our many accomplishments; there is much talent, strength, and dedication evident throughout our school board. The resilience demonstrated by our students, staff, and families during the COVID-19 shutdown is noteworthy.
However, there is also much work to do. While we responded and coped with the sudden closure of schools and centres the best we could, challenges soon surfaced around issues of equity and access. The Black Lives Matter movement also affected our community and highlighted the fact that issues of discrimination, inequity, and exclusion in our community are real and deserving of attention. Our School Board has begun important work to address racism and discrimination. If we are to make meaningful change, we will need to wrestle with these concepts both on an individual level as well as on an institutional level.
The 2019-20 school year ended in a way no one could have foreseen last August. In mid-June, we opened our elementary and secondary schools to students and staff albeit in a limited fashion. We welcomed back almost 330 elementary and secondary students who participated in our pedagogical camps. Remote learning was offered for students until the last day of school. In our adult education and vocational training centres, courses were re-organized to be given at a distance with limited in-presence learning. On June 16th, we began teaching the new AEP program in two of our vocational training centres. We are now training students to become attendants who will work in long-term care facilities to help with the COVID-19 response.
So as this school year winds down, we look ahead to the next school year. Our leadership team is working hard to make 2020-21 a successful one for the entire Lester B. Pearson community.
To conclude the final DG report of the year, I wish to offer some words of appreciation. To our students and families, I say thank you for your tremendous resilience, courage, and patience. To our graduates of 2020, I salute you for persevering through difficult moments. Although this was not the graduating year any of us planned for you, change and growth still emerged. On behalf of our entire leadership team, I congratulate you on your achievements.
To our entire staff I say thank you for your actions, big and small. Since mid-March, you have had to respond quickly in the face of ever-evolving situations. Thank you for your dedication and professionalism.
To our unions and associations, I offer my gratitude for your cooperation. Despite the many twists and turns imposed by COVID-19, we were successful in finding solutions to problems via a climate of respect.
To our Council of Commissioners, I say thank you for your guidance and support. We appreciate your efforts to advocate for the rights of our community.
Finally, I want to wish everyone a restful summer break. We cannot underestimate the toll that these last few months have taken on us all. My hope is that everyone - students, staff, parents, administrators, and commissioners can find some time to relax and recharge.
BEST WISHES FOR A HAPPY AND HEALTHY SUMMER!