Director General's Report to Council for April 2022

by Cindy Finn, Director General, LBPSB

The saying that April showers bring May flowers is certainly being borne out this month. Technically, the calendar has notified us that Spring has arrived, but the weather says differently. April can also be a tough month in education; students and staff are working hard but there is still a ways to go before we hit those end of year milestones, such as celebrations and graduations. The additional stressors of this year due to the ongoing and resurging pandemic have been lived by all. Luckily, there is a lot of sunshine and positivity taking place in our schools and centres to make up for these grey days.

I had the pleasure of attending a special ceremony on Sunday, April 3 hosted by the Lieutenant Governor of Quebec, Michel Doyon. Recipients were honoured with a Lieutenant-Governor Youth Medal, and over 120 youth from Montreal and Laval area highschools, cegeps and universities were recognized for making a difference in their communities. I am proud to state that four of this year’s class of recipients are Lester B. Pearson students. These young people were nominated by their high schools because of the positive impact they are having on their community through their leadership and service to others.

One of our student commissioners, Emily Raynor, received such a youth medal. Emily was nominated by Beaconsfield High School for her active participation in student life. The other LBPSB students who received a Lieutenant-Governor Youth Medal this year were Dylan Sciampacone from Beurling Academy, Brianna Georgiadis from St. Thomas High School, and Christina Koulouris, from Lakeside Academy. Congratulations to these recipients, our future leaders of tomorrow! 

April was a big month for Beaconsfield High School. Not only did one of their students receive a Lieutenant-Governor medal, BHS also proudly represented Lester B. Pearson at the annual Battle of the Books. This was a friendly but fierce competition between Lester B. Pearson School Board and the Quebec Association of Independent Schools. The energetic team from BHS faced off against students from Hebrew Academy the evening of April 11th. It was exciting to watch these students work furiously under pressure to answer a barrage of questions about novels both teams had carefully read and studied. I am proud to say that our Beaconsfield Bisons were triumphant, and they brought home the win! Congrats to the librarian and students at BHS and for doing Lester B. Pearson proud! Kudos as well to all of our schools who spent months preparing for this competition. It is wonderful to witness this celebration and love of reading.

During the week of April 11-15th, our school board celebrated Adult Learners’ week. A wonderful virtual gala was held to mark the occasion. Ten students from each of our 8 adult education and vocational centres were selected to be honoured for their achievements. Watching the inspiring testimonials given by our adult learners who have made the choice to further their studies, learn a trade, or obtain their diploma is very touching. Knowing that so many of our students attribute much of their success to the encouragement and dedication shown by Lester B. Pearson teachers and staff is very rewarding. This virtual gala is available for viewing on Youtube and can be accessed by using the key words LBPSB Adult Learners’ Week 2022.

Several of our centres also held events last week to celebrate the perseverance and resilience of students. I was delighted to visit Place Cartier at their new home on Ambassador Avenue in Pointe Claire at the end of Adult Learners’ Week and meet some of our students and staff as I toured the building. Last week a mini-career fair was held at Place Cartier where all of our vocational training centres were on hand to answer questions adult learners have about pursuing a trade at an LBPSB vocational centre. Our continuing education sector is doing some amazing things!

April has typically been known as Autism Awareness Month. However, it is not sufficient to be aware of people with Autism Spectrum Disorder; we need to appreciate difference and not stigmatize it. For that reason, April is now referred to as Autism Acceptance Month in the spirit of acknowledging neurodiversity and embracing difference. Pathologizing different ways of thinking and behaving is rooted in an ableist perspective, and so as educators we continue to make this shift towards understanding and acceptance. In so doing, we become more inclusive and equitable in our practices.

In recognition of Autism Acceptance Month, the Student Services Department hosted a speaker, Steven Atme, a young man with autism who won the Simon Chang award for being a difference maker in the special needs community. Steven Atme talks about the need for educators to embrace and nurture students’ talents and dreams rather than take a deficit-based approach to individuals with ASD. Mr. Atme presented to the professionals in Student Services as well as to resource teachers and special education technicians working in our schools. He was very well received, and his message was inspirational and uplifting.

Another event taking place in the last week of April is the Pearson Family Fun Run. We are issuing a challenge to the entire Lester B. Pearson Community to walk 5k over the next 6 days in support of our wellness and as part of a fundraiser for the Pearson Educational Foundation. If you register to walk, you will be invited to a celebration we are holding on next Sunday May 1st in the community. We hope you will join us!

So although April may have some feeling tired and discouraged, I point to these bright examples of the accomplishments of our students and the ways in which our staff and administration strive to have a positive impact on the learners we serve. We continue to plant seeds so that everyone can flourish.

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