Director General's Report to Council for December 2022

by Cindy Finn, Director General, LBPSB

I begin my report this month by paying homage to a valued colleague, Mr. Thomas Rhymes. Mr. Rhymes will soon be embarking on a new adventure, that of retirement. On behalf of the staff and administration of the Lester B. Pearson School board, I wish to take a moment to express our deep appreciation for his leadership and service to public education. I will only take a moment, because my colleague and friend would be uncomfortable with a long tribute, although we could talk at great length about his accomplished career and his many contributions to education, not just with Lester B. Pearson but throughout the province. Mr. Rhymes has held various positions in our organization over the years – that of teacher, principal, and senior administrator. Throughout his career, I have only ever known him to be wholly committed and resolutely dedicated to the welfare of students. He has been a champion for such issues as indigenous education and equity, diversity, and inclusion long before they were in our current public consciousness. He has left his mark throughout our organization – from school operations to educational services to major school change to pandemic management. He will be missed, that is for certain. We wish him only the very best in retirement. 

 

It is now mid-December, with only a few days left before we take a two-week break. Although this month and the approaching holiday period can be a difficult time for some, it is also a time for peace, hope and joy. It is a season of giving to others. Many of our schools and centres have been busy organizing food drives, book drives, and clothing drives. Others have been holding fundraisers such as bake sales in order to have food baskets for those facing food insecurity, volunteering their time at food kitchens or participating in concerts to raise money for cancer initiatives. This year, we held the 1st annual school fundraising campaign for the Pearson Educational Foundation, a charitable organization that benefits Lester B. Pearson students in a variety of ways. We issued a challenge to our schools to designate a day in November when each student would be invited to donate $2 towards projects and scholarships overseen by PEF. We had an incredible response! I wish to thank all those who donated. I extend my appreciation to our administrators for organizing this at their school or centre. I am proud that our community is a giving and generous one, particularly during this economic downturn that has seen food and housing costs soar in recent months.  Generosity and gratitude are powerful dimensions to our humanity. Helping others is a critical part of being in community, for we are truly all our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers. It is heartwarming to witness this sharing and caring for the wellbeing of others. 

 

Wellness is not only important for our students, but it is also vital for our employees. We have had a wellness steering committee in place for the last several years made up of LBPSB administrators and union leaders. This committee continues its work, and we now have a new health and safety team in place in Human Resources whose mandate it is to assist with promoting wellness in the workplace. To date, this team has shared two bilingual postcards with our staff, explaining their role and offering suggestions designed to prevent workplace accidents. 

 

I recently attended two conferences that touched on the importance of wellness in education. Research and practice by those in the field stress the importance of self-care by attending to several aspects that make up wellness: the physical, cognitive, emotional, and spiritual dimensions to health. Research also shows that stress and our ability to cope is affected by the strength of social support networks.

 

As we get ready to take a break from classes, I urge everyone to heed that professional advice; please attend to your own wellness by exercising self-care and make sure to plan some social and fun activities with others. May the coming break be relaxing and allow you to recharge so we can greet 2023 with vim and vigor.

 

For those of you preparing to celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, or any other religious holiday, may your celebrations be filled with serenity, peace, and joy. May tidings of good cheer and harmony fill these dark and early days of winter with light and hope.