Director General's Report to Council for January 2023

by Cindy Finn, Director General, LBPSB

Come January 1, when we turn the page on the calendar, we start to fill that blank page with hopes, dreams, and resolutions. Similarly, when we return to classes after a two-week winter break, we bring the promise of fresh starts and renewed efforts to successfully complete the second half of the school year. 

We began 2023 on a pleasant and positive note. Upon our return to school, we welcomed Ms. Veronique Marin, our newly appointed Assistant Director General. Ms. Marin joins the Directorate with many years of administrative leadership experience at Lester B. Pearson School Board, having served as Vice-Principal, Centre Director, Regional Director, Director of Continuing Education, and most recently as Director of International Programs. I wish Ms. Marin all the best in this new role, and we look forward to our continued work together. 

Earlier this month, we also welcomed the Deputy Minister of Education, Mme. Carole Arav, to our school board. Mme. Arav and a small delegation from the Ministry met with the Directors General and Assistant Directors General on the Island of Montreal and then carried out school and centre visits in the 5 school boards and school service centres. ADG Carol Heffernan and I, along with Principal Heather-Anne Denton, were on hand to welcome Mme. Arav and her team at Dorval Elementary on the afternoon of January 12th. We had lunch together, discussing educational issues, and then spent the better part of the afternoon touring the school. We visited classes being carried out in both French and English and toured Le Lab, a maker space that allows students to explore, discover and create. We sat in on a music class and toured the resource area. It was a very successful visit, and I wish to thank Principal Denton and the entire Dorval Elementary School staff for their hospitality and warmth. This was a wonderful way to usher in the New Year well as welcome our new Deputy Minister of Education. 

New Year’s greetings continued well into the month of January. Lunar New Year was celebrated on January 22, and many of our schools and centres marked the Year of the Rabbit with cultural celebrations in the form of musical events and food tastings.

We are now moving into the second half of the academic year, which means that we are already planning for 2023-24. Our elementary Open Houses took place earlier this month, just prior to the start of our registration period. We were very excited to host these Open House events in person once again. Being able to physically open our doors to the public allows us to really showcase our wonderful elementary schools. Parents and future students can truly experience the vibrant and welcoming learning spaces that we offer. Our older students are often involved in these events, and they share their experiences with visitors. Our open houses were highly publicized and well attended; LBPSB pride was in full force! I thank our elementary school principals and our Communications and Community Development Department for helping us re-launch these open house events. 

As much as January is about looking ahead and thinking about fresh starts, there are also events that take place during this month that remind us of the importance of reflecting on the past. On January 27th, many of our schools and centres observed International Holocaust Remembrance Day, a day designated by the United Nations to commemorate the over six million Jewish lives lost in this genocide. A student-led campaign to wear paperclips in memory of those who perished in the Holocaust was launched by students at Margaret Manson Elementary School. As a community, we also participated in the green square campaign in honour of the men who were slain in Quebec City Mosque shootings on January 29, 2017. In the week leading up to this National Day of Remembrance and Action Against Islamophobia, many of us wore green squares on our lapels to remember and stand in solidarity with the Muslim Community. Both of these events serve as reminders that we must actively fight against intolerance, hate, and violence in all its forms. We owe it to our students to teach them about these devastating events in the hope that we can build a better future for all of humanity. I wish to thank our Lester B. Pearson staff who carry out this important work in our schools, centres, and service departments. It is through such actions that we can serve as a spark of hope to guide our students forward on a good and better path.  

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