Director General's Report to Council
for March 2022
by Cindy Finn, Director General, LBPSB
Since our return from March break, the pace of activity has increased considerably across our system. Not only are we entering the final third of the school year at a time when many of the public health restrictions are lifting, but we are also busily planning for the next school year. Our budget and staffing processes are cyclical ones tied to the provincial budget and registration numbers. Everything is underway to help us plan for the 2022-23 school year.
One of the lessons we can draw from the last two years of hardship is that in community we can work together to address problems of common concern. Youth violence is an issue that requires our collective attention. On March 24, I attended Part 1 of a 2-day forum focused on armed violence and youth in Montreal. The goal of this forum is bring together many actors – police, city officials, health and social services, school systems, community groups, families and youth – to address the issue of youth violence and find solutions that will increase feelings of belonging, engagement and security, thereby reducing aggression and violence. The second day of this forum takes place on March 31, I am eager to share in developing concrete solutions to this societal concern. The tragic loss of one of our students last month only drove home the point that each of us has a stake in addressing these issues for they not only affect our schools and centres but our society as a whole. We are committed, both within our organization and with outside partners, to continue our efforts to prevent and reduce violence in all forms.
Tonight’s presentation by Beurling Academy is but one example of the ongoing work we are doing in the area of equity, diversity and inclusion. At our school board, we have also included another value, that of dignity. Our commitment to improving school climate also means carrying out the work with integrity in order to raise awareness, deliver professional development and provide useful resources to our schools and centres. February was filled with many activities celebrating Black History month. This month, many schools and centres also paid particular attention to gender equity issues evoked by the observance of March 8 as International Women’s Day. The invasion of Ukraine at the end of February has been another reminder of the human suffering that comes from oppression. Many of our schools and centres have been actively working on Ukrainian relief efforts. From snack sales to thrift shops to collections of food and supplies, our students and staff are sending messages of support and kindness to the millions that have been displaced and adversely affected by this latest humanitarian crisis.
One of the goals in my monthly reports is to celebrate points of pride and achievement. I will conclude my report with a few examples of the accomplishments of our students. First, I wish to congratulate Beaconsfield High School on their impressive win at the recent Battle of the Books. This event is a celebration of a love of reading in the form of a competition that tests students’ knowledge of various novels they have read. Students from four Lester B. Pearson high schools – LCCHS, Lakeside, Macdonald and BHS – spent months reading 12 different books and preparing for this competition. All of our schools did a phenomenal job, and I wish to thank our school librarians for dedicating so much time to this labour of love. Not only did this event mark the 10-year anniversary of the Battles of the Books, I believe it is one of the first in-person, interschool event we have been able to hold since March 2020. It was a true joy to be back at an in-person event, seeing students and parents. Now the BHS team will go on to compete against the winner of the battle from the Quebec Association of Independent Schools in early April. Best of luck Bisons; I know BHS will do Lester B. Pearson proud!
I also wish to recognize for Lester B. Pearson High Schools who have been awarded a green grant as part of the MEQ’s projet jeunesse en changement climatique. 46 projects from around the province were approved for funding, and I am proud to say that Beurling, Macdonald, John Rennie and Pierrefonds Community were among the successful applicants. Each school received $5000 toward their initiative. At Beurling and John Rennie, the grant will help with building a community garden, at PCHS the funds will support various green initiatives within their school community, and Mac is using the funding to create a pollinating sanctuary. Congratulations to these schools for their efforts to address environmental issues and stem climate change.
I will conclude my report by wishing our Central Students Committee all the best as they prepare to hold their senior leadership conference. Tomorrow is a pedagogical day meaning we have no classes, but some of our secondary students will be participating in a series of virtual workshops as part of this Leadership event they hold each year. The theme this year is Amplifying our Voice and I look forward to our secondary students and staff online to learn more about the issues that are top of mind among our adolescent learners.
My report this month has been filled with examples of the power of student voice and action. This empowerment is directed towards creating a better world, and I am hopeful that as we leave winter behind that the spring thaw brings a sense of promise and renewal for everyone.