We want to see you/your team in the SCDSB Spotlight!

Next month, we are launching a new feature on the Sharing Simcoe blog, called SCDSB Spotlight. Once a month, we will highlight a team or individual who may:

  • work behind the scenes;
  • go above and beyond in their role;
  • make an impact at SCDSB for students and staff;
  • have implemented a new, successful initiative or program;
  • or who is just a great person/team to work with!

Remember this awesome ASD team from Terry Fox Elementary School? We would like to highlight other teams from across the SCDSB doing great things like they are!

If you would like to get yourself, your team or a colleague in the SCDSB Spotlight, please contact:

Rachael Ogorek, Communications Officer at rogorek@scdsb.on.ca.

Please provide details regarding the employee or team and send a photo (or photos) of the team or individual. A photo can be arranged and taken for you at the Education Centre if necessary.

Along with being featured on the Sharing Simcoe blog, the story will also be shared on SCDSB social media channels.

We’re looking forward to showcasing the amazing work that our staff does across the SCDSB. Hope to see you in the SCDSB Spotlight!

PS: Remember that we also have the SCDSB Stars staff recognition program, available for the public or staff to nominate an outstanding SCDSB employee for going above and beyond!

First day of school photo contest showcases excitement

The first week of school is coming to a close, but excitement levels are still high with many students and staff attending new schools, meeting new friends and getting started on a new school year!

Some students are attending our Simcoe County District School Board (SCDSB) schools for the very first time, and their smiling faces say it all in the following photos submitted for the #SCDSBfirstdayJK photo contest:

We also received photos from students, parents and staff (even Maverick the therapy dog!) showcasing their excitement for the first day of school earlier this week using #SCDSBfirstday. One brother and sister duo (who happen to be teachers!) even recreated their first day photo from way back when. How cool is that!?  Check them out:

Thank you to everyone who submitted photos for the contest. To see more, search #SCDSBfirstday and #SCDSBfirstdayJK on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. Two winners (one from #SCDSBfirstdayJK and one from #SCDSBfirstday) will be selected at random early next week and will be contacted to claim their prize! The prize includes SCDSB promo items and school supplies, some of which were kindly donated by Staples.

Happy new school year to all and good luck in the contest!

Commit to Character: Caring

The SCDSB’s 10 values are a key part of our commitment to character education. We refer to our values as character attributes. Each month our schools recognize and celebrate a different attribute. This month on the blog, we highlight ‘caring’.

Caring: We show kindness towards each other

Some examples of how we can be caring:

  • treat people with kindness and generosity
  • help those in need
  • be sensitive to the feelings of others
  • don’t be mean/hurtful
  • think about how your actions will affect others
  • be polite
  • apologize when you need to

Some ways that students in our schools learn about and develop caring include:

  • brainstorm about “Random Acts of Kindness” and discuss how they affect other people and yourself personally
  • select someone who has demonstrated caring towards you and write a letter of thanks and recognition to that person

“We should behave to our friends as we wish our friends to behave to us.” – Aristotle

Learn more about character education in the SCDSB. 

“I quit while I was ahead” – retired principal pens emotional reflection

Steve Peck,  a retired principal from Willow Landing Elementary School, recently had an editorial featured in The Globe And Mail. Titled “I quit while I was ahead”, Peck writes about his emotions as a newly retired teacher and principal as staff and students start returning to school. For the first time in 30 years, he won’t be.

I quit while I was ahead

The birds are singing this morning. Perhaps they sing every morning and I don’t notice, too distracted by the day which stretches out before me, stretched out long before it occurs. This Sunday morning, this first Sunday morning of my retirement, I’m sure this ad hoc concert coming from the birds hidden in the leaves and limbs of trees is solely for me: This is my avian choir of congratulations.

Two days ago, I was employed by a public school board and had been in such employ for 30 years. I taught little people, little in stature or little in maturity or little in what we teachers call “content knowledge.” These little people, shuffling along through the grades and grouped by age, were climbing the uneven rungs to high school. Through no choice of their own and often requiring a boost, 25 or 30 of them would stop for about 10 months in my classroom. With the greatest of irony, they taught me more than I ever taught them.

They came to me year after year in shapes and sizes as varied as skipping stones on the edge of the sea. Some were child-movie-star beautiful, others displayed beauty of character; the luckiest were both. They skipped across the tight surface of the water like the flattest and roundest of stones. Others were scarred and broken by senseless but well-meaning parents. They did not skip. I and those with whom I worked regularly waded out, reached down into the water and did our best to find them and bring them back to shore; if they could not skip, maybe we could build them little paper boats. This skipping and building I did for 30 years. For 12 of those 30 years, I was an elementary-school principal, a leader of schools, teachers and their students.

The birds have stopped singing for some reason. The window is still open, but I hear only the rustle of leaves and the occasional caw of a crow who most definitely seems annoyed by something. Like the birds, I too stopped what I was doing, stopped being a principal. My stopping will likely be more permanent than theirs. But I neither know nor can know for certain, as the future has not yet been released on DVD.

I loved most of my principal work for most of those 12 years. But, as a beginning teacher, I soon learned a lesson that too many teachers, preachers and politicians have not learned: stop the lesson (or the sermon, or the career) when it’s going well. It’s both difficult and counterintuitive to say, while the students are engaged and the lesson is rolling along straight and true, “All right boys and girls, time to pack up.” But when one does, the students are sad to see a good thing end and long for more.

I may still long for a little more myself, but just a little; I hope those I leave behind do, too.

If I stretched out those 30 years on a labelled number line across a blackboard, I could point out some sections I would be happy to erase. Tiny sections and short sections to be sure, but seriously, pass me the eraser. Let the horizontal blue-red-blue pattern of felt fibres trap the chalk molecules and whisk them away.

This we know, above all, is neither the nature of a teaching career nor the nature of life. Erasing the past or controlling the present is not a choice open to the teacher, or the songbird or the crow. Our continuous lines stretch from start to finish without interruption. Looking back, it is most likely those sections I would have liked to erase which strengthened me and fit me to make it to the end of my career. It was Nietzsche who said, “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” Well, I’m still here. Does that make him right?

So, I took my own advice and quit while things were going well, while I was stronger, or at least strong enough. I did not wait until I hated my job. I did not even wait until I started the countdown to retirement, which inevitably and inexorably leads to days of quiet and not-so-quiet desperation.

Did I teach and lead in schools for too long? Ask my students, teachers, colleagues and parents. Did I stop too soon? After all, there’s much left to do, many more things to change for the better and some planted ideas I would have liked to see sprout, grow and mature. I leave the picking of the fruit, or the uprooting of the tree (as the case may be), for those who follow behind.

No one asked me any questions on my last day at school, at least not any questions about the next school year, which already looms on the horizon.

I have always spent Labour Day weekend trying to suck the last sweetness from the bottom of summer’s cup; to spend time at school preparing for what sometimes seems like an upcoming invasion by a foreign power; to spend time wrestling with two competing, angst-creating queries: Where did my precious summer go? And, is everything in place for a perfect start on Tuesday morning?

That will not be my lot for this year’s idolized Canadian long weekend.
The first day of school will record the happy and exciting sounds of tens of thousands of elementary students in all manner of new footwear pattering across school-yard tarmacs. The sound around my home may be different. If I open my window on that Tuesday, the birds may hear me singing.

-Steve Peck

Healthy Lunches - images of kids

6 healthy school lunch ideas your kids will actually eat

It’s almost September, which means back-to-school time and a return to the daily routine of packing school lunches. Let’s admit it . . . we as parents all resort to store-bought granola bars, applesauce and drinking boxes at some point, but with the options below, hopefully you’ll start out this school year on a healthier note!

  1. Water and milk are best to drink

    Find a cool, reusable drinking container you kid loves (maybe an Elsa or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle will do the trick) and use a fun cooler pack or freeze the water container to use as a cooler pack to keep the drink cold throughout the day.

  2. Soup, chili or pasta

    If you make a slow cooker meal on the weekend (or also a great idea for those busy weeknights when you don’t have time to cook!), ensure there is extra for lunch leftovers. One of my son’s favourite is this carrot and lentil soup (he calls it “honey soup!”). Warm a thermos with hot water for a few minutes, then heat the food and place in the thermos. This should keep it warm enough for the first nutrition break.

  3. Cheese and crackers

    Look for low-fat flavoured rice cakes and whole grain crackers. If your child doesn’t like cheese, try some yogurt. Add a protein like turkey or chicken and kids can make cracker ‘sandwiches’.

  4. Bread creativity: Wraps, pita and more

    A great alternative to the traditional sandwich and there’s definitely more choice out there now compared to the Wonderbread we grew up with! Try different kinds of grains, flatbread or tortilla wraps with a variety of filling options – fruit, veggies, tuna, cooked egg, deli meat, etc. Let your kids pick out what they like.

  5. Veggies/fruit and dip

    Switch it up and try something new (snap peas and cauliflower or kiwi and strawberries). Your child can help prepare it and sort the foods by colour, shape or texture – a learning experience! Healthy dip options
    include hummus, plain yogurt, guacamole or a low-fat salad dressing.

  6. Muffins

    Muffins are quick and fun to make on the weekend with your kids, and are a great alternative to packaged granola bars and sugary gummy snacks. A few favourites in our house include: cranberry blueberry bran muffins, banana muffins and broccoli and cheese muffins.

For more ideas and tips, check out our Welcome to Kindergarten healthy eating video, featuring Andrew Hunter Elementary School students and created in partnership with the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit.

Remember to label all containers with your child’s name and make sure your child can open and close the containers  on their own. Use reusable containers to encourage waste-free lunches, and ask about classroom and school allergies so you are aware of what is safe to bring to school.

Also, encourage your child to help make and pack their own lunch and snacks – they will be more likely to eat it if they help prepare it. Even three, four and five year-olds can help pack the containers in their lunch bags. Healthy eating helps kids focus in the classroom and gives them the energy and nutrients they need to learn and play!

~ Melanie Rumley, Communications Specialist, SCDSB


EatRight Ontario

Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit

Health Canada

Zach officially makes tracks and starts his journey to Ottawa

The day finally arrived on Sunday, August 13 when 13-year-old Zach Hofer took his first steps on his journey to Ottawa with a Big Send-Off event. Zach has been raising funds for youth mental health and the RVH Foundation since the beginning of the year, and what a journey it’s been.

With the entire community of Barrie behind him, including the mayor and government officials, his friends and staff from Codrington Public School and the Simcoe County District School Board (SCDSB), media near and far, and numerous organizations and businesses supporting as donors and sponsors, it’s been an incredible ride. He shattered his initial goal of raising $10,000 and funds raised have skyrocketed to $55,000 and counting.

Even Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is aware of and impressed by Zach’s accomplishments!

“I have been touched by the engagement of young people like Zach on the issue of mental health,” said Prime Minister Trudeau. “I look forward hopefully to meeting with Zach when he comes to Ottawa and I certainly know he will be very well received by my government because the issue he is championing is one that matters not just to our government but to all Canadians.”

The Big Send-off featured both Rock 95 and Kool FM on site, cheque presentations for the Zach Makes Tracks campaign, photo opportunities with Zach and his now-iconic tour bus, and speeches from Zach’s mother Shelley Hofer, media personalities and community supporters. Also present for the day and part of the speech presentations was Annaleise Carr, one of Zach’s inspirations who had a successful campaign of her own in 2012.

Annaleise became the youngest person to swim across Lake Ontario in 2012 at the age of 14. She began her swim in Niagara-on-the-Lake and finished in Toronto. Over $100,000 was raised on that swim alone, with all proceeds benefiting children and families at Camp Trillium, a camp created for children with cancer. She set out on another swim in 2014, this time across Lake Erie and raised $230,000 for Camp Trillium.

“I just want to say to Zach, you got this!”, said Carr. “You’re amazing, I’m so proud of you and I’m so happy to be here. You’re already a winner in my eyes, just for having a big dream, a big heart and for trying your hardest. You’ve reached your goal, you’ve worked so hard and you’re already a winner.”

We are so #SCDSBproud of Zach and look forward to following the rest of his journey. We’ll be watching the news and on social media for his big arrival in Ottawa on September 10! For more information and updates, visit www.zachmakestracks.ca 

First Rider program teaches bus safety to first-timers

From August 16-Sept. 1, the Simcoe County Student Transportation Consortium (SCSTC) is offering a free program for all families with children new to riding a school bus called the First Rider program. The program will be available in communities across Simcoe County.

Provided by the SCSTC in partnership with School Bus Operators, the First Rider program focuses on educating students and their families on bus safety and the rules and regulations regarding riding a school bus. Children and families start by watching an educational video, followed by instruction on how to safely cross a street and enter a school bus. They then enjoy a brief school bus ride and get an opportunity to practice safely exiting the bus and meeting up with their waiting families.

“Riding a school bus for the first time can be overwhelming, especially for students going to school for the first time,” says Sean Levasseur, Safety and Accessibility Officer, SCSTC. “We want to ensure they feel comfortable on the bus, but also know best practices and procedures for school bus safety.”

The one-hour program includes take-home tools and information, such as a bus safety rules colouring book and a certificate of completion for the students.

For a list of dates, times and locations regarding the First Rider program, please visit main.simcoecountyschoolbus.ca. Registration isn’t required – just show up, learn and enjoy the ride!