Chairperson’s Report to Council for April 2022
by Judy Kelley, Chairperson, LBPSB
The Lester B. Pearson School Board strives to create opportunities for student success from K-4 through to Secondary V and in Continuing Education. Every learner is unique in their learning style and in their particular need for support and guidance from inside the classroom and outside in order to do their very best. At the LBPSB we offer a variety of programs to optimize student learning with bilingual and French Immersion, and in high school with many options and extra-curricular activities available to enrich that learning experience. Imagine how distinct each person is in your own family, and how you juggle a variety of aptitudes and interests – now multiply that across a school board of 20,000 plus learners. This school board strives to support all students to reach their potential and to be successful. When the LBPSB students graduate and are ready to start the next steps in their education and in their lives they know there will be exciting challenges ahead. However, some of that excitement, for students planning to go to English CEGEP, has recently been quashed by legislators at the National Assembly who have created a barrier for many students who could now potentially struggle in their college studies where they wouldn’t have struggled before. One of the amendments to Bill 96, “An Act Respecting French, the Official and Common Language of Quebec” is a purely political one which directly interferes with pedagogy in Anglophone CEGEPS, by imposing three additional French courses (not FSL) on all students for the completion of their DEC. Although many Anglophones would welcome having an opportunity to increase their French language skills, and for our LBPSB students, to build on their French knowledge acquired throughout their education with this Board, this decision to add three core French courses to the CEGEP syllabus is ill-informed, and lacks any consideration for the students who will be faced with the obstacles and challenges such courses will present and for which they may be unprepared. Our goal in education is to prepare students for success and for their futures, not to build barriers. There may still be hope that this particular part of Bill 96 could be further amended in a positive light for future CEGEP students; and, because the Bill could be passed into law very soon, the strength of our collective voice, our objection to Bill 96 in its present form, may yet be heard. In my optimism and with hope, I expect the government to listen, to do the right thing and to put the learners first, something educators do every day.
On the other hand, in celebrating education, during the second week of April, Adult Learners Week was a great success. I would like to congratulate Maggie Soldano, Director of Continuing Education and all of the Adult and Vocational Centres for the outstanding work you do. (The ceremony can be found on You Tube – https://youtu.be/YL14Q7jzGp8)
The range of opportunities for adult learners from adult education, to the personal care industry, to health, food sectors, business, telecommunication, electricity, auto mechanics, including electric car mechanics, plumbing & heating, interior design to building maintenance, to name a few, speaks to the boundless opportunities the LBPSB offers to adult students. Bravo!
Celebrating another success, around this Council table, is that of our student commissioner, Emily Raynor, from BHS, who was recently awarded the Lieutenant Governor Medal of Québec. Some of the highlights I read about Emily’s student life, is that Emily is a well-rounded, contributing student with a positive attitude and influence, endless school involvement, volunteering, and overall strong leadership in her school. Dr. Finn will tell you about some of the other recipients of this award in her report. Another BHS highlight is their Battle of the Books team won the final competition this month. This is a wonderful accomplishment and a shout out to the Librarians and teachers at the LBPSB who encourage a love of reading in their students.
In every school and in our centres throughout the school board students are contributing to their school communities and to helping others in amazing ways through their in-school initiatives, fundraising and projects. All that you do is very much appreciated by everyone for whom you strive to make a difference. Your thoughtfulness and kindness is exemplary. I invite our public to visit our Pearson News page on our website to discover much more about the exciting contributions of the LBPSB community.
Commissioners and the administration spent time on Saturday morning this past weekend engaged in a workshop to enhance our knowledge and understanding of gender diversity in education and mental health approaches regarding diversity and inclusion at the LBPSB. The LBPSB houses the Centre of Excellence for Mental Health which provides many resources and information about best practices for the English school boards in Québec. Please visit their webpage to learn more and to take advantage of the resources provided (https://cemh.lbpsb.qc.ca/). I thank you for all the work you do in this important field. A focus on mental health awareness is critical to our understanding of our students’ well-being and the stress and anxiety they face in their day-to-day lives and interactions with their peers, in the classroom and at home. I attended a Canadian Mental Health Leadership Network meeting this month where Dr. Jean Clinton, the guest speaker, a psychiatrist who specializes in early childhood mental health, stressed to us that in young learners, toxic stress can have a great impact on early childhood development. She reminded us that love builds brains, that security, safety, belonging and relationships, relationships, relationships are key. I think this is a message that can serve us all very well.
This brings me back to my opening remarks and about student success. It is critical that all of us who care deeply about education and about our students and their futures in Quebec society, work together with respect for each other, and in kindness, and with a common goal to make a positive difference for all learners. To put the learners first.