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!

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 

Welcome to Holland, SCDSB

You may have seen the hashtag #SCDSBHolland used a few times on Twitter with photos of Special Education staff or heard mentions of SCDSB Holland around your office or school, but do you know what it’s really about? You will be amazed and inspired when you do.

Stephen McClelland, Principal, Special Education Services has implemented a special way of recognizing the needs of special education students and the staff that work so hard to support them. The ‘Welcome to Holland’ concept stems from the following video, which features a poem from Emily Perl Kingsley.

The video is shown at the beginning of every Special Education department meeting with the goal for all schools to embrace the ‘Holland’ concept: to embrace life’s unexplained detours. That being different than others is not only ok, but makes others learn to see the world differently and the beautiful things it offers.

“Our special education staff go above and beyond to support our students with special needs,” says McClelland. “The work that they do is very difficult at times, and it’s exhausting. At the end of the day, they don’t always see the successes they achieve or consider what they do to be extraordinary.”

Over the past year, there have been many stand-out moments within the department which they refer to as ‘golden buzzer’ (think America’s Got Talent) achievements. These include a blind student having a lead in a school theatre production and a student with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) participating in track and field for the first time. The schools and the staff in these cases are embracing Holland to the fullest degree.

To celebrate these achievements, Holland Awards are given out each month to recognize the staff who are so dedicated to students and the Holland initiative. The certificate includes a Holland lapel pin and the ‘Welcome to Holland’ poem on the back.

This past spring, each staff member in the Special Education department received a hand-written note from the management team to thank them for their hard work and dedication to ‘Holland’. Along with the note were two blank thank you cards for the staff members to pay it forward and give thanks to someone they would like to recognize for their hard work within SCDSB. They were also asked to take a photo of the experience and include the hashtag #SCDSBHolland.

To the staff in the Special Education department: we appreciate the work that you do, and we are inspired by the Holland initiative and the way you have embraced it. Thank you for paying it forward, recognizing the amazing work our staff across the SCDSB does and for taking us to ‘Holland’.

ASD educators at Terry Fox Elementary School go the extra mile for their students

Written by: Sue Ducau, ASD teacher, Terry Fox Elementary School

Meet the Awe-some-tism Titans team

We are a team of educators who teach and support students in a county class for students deeply affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).  The students in our class come from across Simcoe County for individualized instruction in the focus areas of communication, social skills and self-regulation. Reading, writing, technology, gross motor and fine motor skills are also a focus of learning for the students, as the class features robust literacy and numeracy programs.

To create real-life connections for our students, field trips are a key element of our classroom experience.  When you only have six students in your class, the cost of a field trip can become unrealistic when transportation and admission fees are factored in.

This year we have set out to make field trips a reality for our students.  As a team we have hosted six lunches for Terry Fox staff.  We have had lunches with the themes of tacos, pancakes, spaghetti, sandwiches and more.  To make the lunch successful as a fundraiser, each team member donates the food items and prepares the meal the night before. We offer the lunch for all staff members at a cost of $5, and all funds collected go towards field trips for our ASD students.

By the end of the school year, we will have taken two field trips to Vertical Zone Trampoline Centre.  This location and activity allows us to practice our sensory diets, turn taking, communication and meet some of our physical education learning expectations.

Thank you to the Awe-some-tism Titans team in Room 139 at Terry Fox Elementary School who make our classroom an amazing place in which anything is achievable!

“Unity is strength…when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved.” – Mattie J.T. Stepanek

Innisdale becomes Canada’s 16th Fair Trade School

Fairtrade Canada recently named Innisdale Secondary School in Barrie as the 16th Fair Trade School in the country. Fairtrade Canada is an organization that works with businesses, schools and consumers to make trade fair for farmers and workers. The Fair Trade School program is focused on educating Canada’s youth about the connection between our food supply and the people that grow our food on a daily basis.

The idea to work towards the designation at Innisdale started two years ago with Grade 12 equity and social justice teacher Eleanor Alexander and her students. The project has continued with the current Grade 12 students and the Social Justice Club.

“There are many initiatives that the students have incorporated to ensure fair trade products are represented at Innisdale,” says Tracey Aylesworth, advisor, Social Justice Club. “Initiatives include everything from serving fair trade coffee, hot chocolate and tea in the cafeteria and at banquets, to students wearing banana costumes to promote fair trade at school events.”

Bruce Morton, Fair Trade Barrie, worked closely with the students and mentored them about the importance of incorporating fair trade products into the school. He introduced fair trade Cadbury chocolate bars, which have proven very popular for the school community!

“What a pleasure to be able to congratulate Innisdale Secondary School on becoming a Fair Trade School two days ahead of World Fair Trade Day!” says Mélissa Dubé, Outreach and Marketing Manager, Fairtrade Canada. “The school joins an ever growing movement as Canada’s 16th Fair Trade School but more importantly they are now part of a big international family.”

Congratulations to Innisdale Secondary School and its social justice students and staff!

Getting the ‘Royal’ treatment at Twin Lakes SS

Walk into the cafeteria at Twin Lakes Secondary School on any given day and you’ll be treated to the comforting aroma of soup simmering and pastries baking. These enticing scents are courtesy of the school’s cooking and baking classes. Students in these programs are preparing for careers in the culinary arts every day. Not only do they cook and bake for themselves and to learn new techniques and recipes, they also run the school’s cafeteria and a staff ‘soup kitchen’.

Recently, four students in the baking program entered the Royal High School Chef competition. Run by the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in partnership with Foodshare Toronto , the competition invited high school teams from across Ontario to submit recipes featuring local ingredients that could work as a menu item in a school cafeteria. Noelani Cline-Kitchener, Cory Lawrence, Nick Mason and Jason MacTiernan formed the team from Twin Lakes. Of the 27 schools that entered by submitting a recipe and photo of their creation, they were selected as one of three teams to compete at the Royal and recreate their recipe in the finals.

Students from team at the Royal

“We were trying not to think about (what a big deal it was) but when we got there we realized it was really big,” said Jason.

The team and their teacher, Kathryn Payne, took their Three Sisters Burrito recipe and wowed the judges with their innovative approach to the classic North American soup. Their creativity and skills in the kitchen (they made their own tortillas from scratch!) resulted in them winning the grand prize and bringing the 2016 Royal High School Chef championship home to Orillia.

Each member of the winning team is part of the Hospitality and Tourism Specialist High Skills Major at Twin Lakes, and have aspirations to continue in the culinary field after they graduate. In the meantime, members of the community can place special orders for food created by the students; contact Kathryn Payne at kapayne@scdsb.on.ca for details.

Great things are cooking at Twin Lakes!

Career Centre supports newcomer to Canada in finding meaningful work

By Wanheng “Hana” Zhao, Career Centre – SCDSB client

About two years ago, I said “Yes” when my husband proposed to me in Shanghai, China.  After being with each other for three years, we were finally going to be a couple. We were so excited and started to plan our future together. My husband is Canadian, so he wanted to bring me back to Canada and try to start our life here, which meant I had to leave my parents to go to the other side of the world. That was not an easy decision to make. After a few months struggling, I finally made up my mind and decided to move with my husband no matter what happened.

Visiting a new country or an island for a vacation is fun and exciting, but living in a completely different environment is difficult. I had so many things to learn, and I still do, but when I first landed, I felt a little overwhelmed. Thanks to my parents- in-law: they are so nice that they made me feel at home instantly.

I have a Bachelor’s Degree in English from China, as well as experience teaching both English and Mandarin as a second language, managing a staff of teachers, and working as a Mandarin/English Interpreter back home. I heard about how hard it is to find a good job in Barrie before I came here, and I understand why, but it was still so depressing when I couldn’t find anything for the first three months after I got here. I connected with the Career Centre in Barrie where I met with an Employment Consultant and began working on an employment plan right away. I learned about various resources I had access to as a newcomer, how to identify my transferable skills and market them in a competitive resume and cover letter to employers, how to network and navigate the hidden job market, as well as prepare for the local interview process here.

I enrolled in the Occupation Specific Language Training (OSLT) Program through Georgian College for Business English training, and I went to the Barrie Learning Centre to improve my general English skills, where I met the best team of instructors and lovely classmates. I felt alive being in a school environment, because that is my background, and that is where my heart is. Knowing my teaching background, my speaking instructor recommended that I apply for a Mandarin instructor position at the Learning Centre that was posted, and my reading instructor volunteered to be my reference. With their help, I applied for the job. After a month’s wait, I got an interview. After a couple of weeks, I received a phone call from the coordinator telling me that I was hired. I cannot forget about the moment when I heard it. I knew it was going to be a good start. Now I am teaching Mandarin to students from Grade 1 through Grade 6 every Saturday at the Learning Centre, and go to a secondary school as an ESL support staff twice a week. I love it!

In the meantime, I applied to a position with WINNERS and received another invitation to attend an interview with the hiring manager, who was very nice. After the second interview, I was hired as a part-time associate. One of the store’s policies is promoting diversity, and luckily I speak Mandarin.

I know it is not going to be that easy to make my ultimate dream come true, which is to bring my parents here to Canada to be with me, but I will try my best. I am lucky, and I do appreciate everything I have accomplished so far, and everyone who has helped me along the way.

Meeting new people is important, and meeting the right people will definitely make things a little easier. Understanding what resources are available and connecting with the right people is so important. So go out and meet people, let them know your strengths and skills and how wonderful you are, and always, always be appreciative and enjoy life.

Part of the Simcoe County District School Board’s Adult and Continuing Education Department, the Career Centre has been providing quality employment services to job searchers and employers in Barrie and the surrounding area since 1995. The Career Centre has experienced, professional Employment Consultants available to help job searchers prepare for and find the work they need. For employers, Employment Consultants are available to help them with hiring people with the skills they need and by providing information on the Canada-Ontario Job Grant. The Career Centre’s services are available at no cost for anyone who is looking for work or employers who are looking to hire.

This Employment Ontario service is funded in part of the Government of Canada.

This Employment Ontario service is funded in part by the Government of Canada.

Career Centre