Director General's Report to Council for May 2023

by Cindy Finn, Director General, LBPSB

I think it is fair to say that the “M” in May stands for movement. This month was a busy one, and I was very much on the move, visiting schools and participating in many events throughout our school board community. The entire system is abuzz with activity!

School and centre visits are a wonderful opportunity for me to see learning and growth in action. I am grateful for the time spent talking to a principal or centre director, meeting staff, and interacting with students. In the past month I have been fortunate to spend time at Beurling Academy where I observed a social studies lesson and talked with teachers and students about how problem-based and inquiry learning are serving them well. I got to tour Beaconsfield High School with the principal and meet students who are deeply committed to equity, diversity, dignity, and inclusion. I visited Horizon High School and was struck by the sense of dedication and community that underlies the tremendous work being done to help all learners succeed, no matter their degree of challenge. Time spent at St. Patrick Elementary watching students proudly perform in their school musical and listening to grade six students at St. Anthony Elementary happily present their IB projects were powerful reminders of the varied ways learning takes place daily across our system. I extend my thanks to the principals for their leadership and warm welcome on these school visits. 

Movement was also the theme for an event that took place early on a Sunday morning a few weeks ago – our annual Pearson Family Fun Run. On Sunday May 7th, several hundred students, parents, and staff at Centennial Park in Dollard-des-Ormeaux who completed a 2K/5K run or walk on a warm and sunny spring day. In addition to being a community wellness event, it also served as a fundraiser for the Pearson Educational Foundation. I am very pleased to say that over $11,500 was raised which will help PEF continue to support Lester B. Pearson schools and programs. Our return to an in-person fun run was made all the sweeter as we celebrated the 10th anniversary of this community event. Thank you to the organizers for making the day so great! I also wish to extend my congratulations to Kyle Verboomen on his recent nomination as PEF President and acknowledge the important role Barbara Vuk-Freeston has played at PEF. I had the pleasure of working with Barbara during her many years as a Lester B. commissioner and know how dedicated she has been to the students and staff of our school board. Congratulations to Ms. Vuk-Freeston on her lifetime membership. 

Lester B. Pearson students were also on the move this month. On May 11-12th, the 16th annual Vocational Training Olympiads were held in Quebec City. We proudly participate in these competitions which allow students to showcase their learning of a skilled trade. Three of our students returned victorious: Ibrahim Damlaj, a student at West Island Career Centre was awarded a medal of merit for a high score in Automechanics. Lucas Schachtler from the Electricity program at Pearson Electrotechnology Centre took home a bronze medal and Gordon Robertson Beauty Academy student Nisanthy Mahathevan won a bronze medal in Hairdressing. Congratulations to all of our Olympians! 

It is also the time of year when we acknowledge our schools and centres that participated in the Quebec entrepreneurship contest and celebrate those moving on to the provincial finals! This year 575 entrepreneurial projects were submitted at the by our elementary, high school and adult education levels, and we received funding in the amount of $268,775.00 for these projects to be realized. From these submissions, we had 25 project winners at the local level, and 2 winners at the regional level. 

The first regional winner was a project submitted by Cycle 1 students at Beaconsfield High School under the leadership of teacher Rosemary Hill. This project, known as The Awareness Project or TAP, sought to raise awareness about accessibility issues in their school. They created a presentation and activity about the challenges faced by those navigating the school building in a wheelchair. The Awareness team also created a button-making service to promote LGBTQ+ rights, anti-racism efforts, and awareness about neurodiversity, mental health and climate change. 

The second project was carried out by adult students in the social integration program at Place Cartier. Under the leadership of teacher Stephanie Blanchfield, students learned the basics of first aid practices and ways to feel safe and secure when home alone. They are creating a training guide that uses more visual materials and will be thus more accessible for students with particular learning needs. 

These two projects now advance to the provincial level, with the final winners being announced in Quebec City next month. Congratulations to Place Cartier and BHS for showcasing their commitment to addressing social justice issues! 

May was indeed a time of movement and momentum. Now, as we head into the final month of the 2022-23 school year, I encourage everyone to remember that the finish line is now on the horizon. Ne lachez pas – we are almost there! Again, my deep appreciation to all who help us continue to inspire and educate, always seeking to move the system forward.

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