Director General's Report to Council for April 2023
by Cindy Finn, Director General, LBPSB
There is an old saying that April showers bring May flowers, but this year our reality was more about ice than rain. On April 5th, southern Quebec was affected by a brief but powerful ice storm that knocked out the power in most of our territory. This resulted in classes being cancelled on Thursday, April 6th. Thankfully, we were heading into a long weekend so the impact on the school calendar was minimal. However, the ice storm still wreaked havoc for many families over that period and certainly required some of our staff to spring into response mode.
I wish to thank our caretakers, building managers, and the entire Equipment Services team for standing watch throughout that time and reacting swiftly to ensure the integrity of our buildings. Generators were found to keep sump pumps working, alarms were responded to, and perishable food from refrigerators was thrown out. PCHS opened its doors as a warming centre for those West Island residents without power, heat, or hot water. I am deeply grateful for the tireless efforts of everyone who helped us respond to this crisis. Once again, when challenges arrive on our doorstep, we see the Lester B. Pearson community rise to the occasion.
Working with community partners is essential, not only in times of crisis, but in the day-to-day work we do to support teaching and learning. On March 26th, I, along with Chair Kelley, Commissioners Shaheed and Saunders, attended the West Island United Rally held at PCHS. Organized by the Youth Stars Foundation, this peaceful rally elevated diversity, equity and inclusivity while serving as a call to action and reminder that EDI is a collective effort. Inspiring testimonials and artistic performances underscored the need to appreciate diversity through a lens of difference and possibility in order to prevent marginalization and discrimination. Community organizations were also on hand at this event to showcase their services.
Many of these same organizations were present in Pointe-Claire on April 18th, when John Rennie High School held a community fair. Students were invited to tour kiosks and learn more about services they can access in their community. I was pleased to be able to participate in the fair and talk with school staff and students about the importance of school and community collaboration.
April is Autism Advocacy month. Once known as Autism Awareness month, it is now a time for acceptance, appreciation, empowerment and advocacy of neurodiversity. Our Centre of Excellence for Autism Spectrum Disorder continues to support the nine English school boards in promoting promising educational and inclusive practices for students with ASD. Last month, this centre organized a virtual professional learning session with Dr. Barry Prizant on a different way of viewing autism. Last week, on April 20th our Centre of Excellence for ASD also paired up with the Centre of Excellence for Behavior Management for a virtual session on how to best use neuroscience and trauma-informed practices to support students with ASD in the classroom. Our team of professionals in Student Services works hard all year long to support students with autism, and I thank them for their advocacy efforts. In the words of Temple Grandin, an author and academic with autism, “I am different, not less”.
April is also when we formally acknowledge our adult learners. April 24-28 is Adult Learners’ Week, a time when we celebrate continuing education. Learning at any age requires risk-taking and perseverance; those who return to the classroom in adulthood to earn secondary credits or learn a trade also display an abundance of grit and resilience. We salute all of our adult learners for their dedication, especially those who were featured at our Adult Learners’ Week virtual celebration. Their stories are truly inspirational, and I invite you to watch the LBPSB Adult Learner Celebration available on Youtube.
As we finish out the month of April, it strikes me that there are only two months remaining in this current school year. That time will go quickly, and I want to wish our Lester B. Pearson students and staff all the best in the weeks to come. Enjoy the return of Spring!