Kemptville – CDSBEO Board Meeting Highlights from meeting held on March 6, 2018.
STEO – Special Projects, Programs and Updates
Student Transportation of Eastern Ontario (STEO) is the transportation consortium for the CDSBEO and the UCDSB. STEO provides transportation for approximately 33,000 students on nearly 800 vehicles traveling over 120,000 kilometers each day across Eastern Ontario.
STEO has a number of special projects and programs actively under way to help promote student safety and well-being while riding the school bus.
Janet Murray, GM/CAO and Marc Gosset, Operations Manager, presented information to the Board about the current special projects that STEO is engaged in, including the Purple Band Program, Tokens of Kindness, and the Mental Health School Bus Signage Campaign. STEO also discussed impacts of the school bus driver shortage, and a new delay/cancellation app.
“The purple band program has been in place for several years as an efficient means to help protect the tiniest travelers – our junior and senior kindergarten students,” began Ms. Murray. “School personnel attach a purple band around the handgrip on the top of a junior or senior kindergarten student’s backpack. The purple band is a quick visual tool that tells bus drivers that the students with a tagged backpack require their special attention, as well as adult or guardian supervision at the drop-off point.”
The Tokens of Kindness program was developed and implemented in 2016. The initiative helps to build positive school bus culture, and rewards acts of kindness on the bus. Bus drivers are provided with tokens inscribed with the words “an act of kindness can change the world,” which are given to riders to reinforce positive behaviour.
“We developed this program in response to feedback we received from school bus drivers, who suggested there are many tools rectify inappropriate behaviour on the school bus, but not as many tools to recognize positive behaviour on the school bus,” explained Ms. Murray.
The Mental Health School Bus Signage Campaign was established in collaboration with both school boards (CDSBEO and UCDSB), and STEO services, as well as school board mental health leads, and community crisis intervention supports including the Suicide Prevention Coalition for Champlain East and Kids Help Phone.
“All STEO buses are now equipped with this sign, which really is reminding them of the mental health supports in their community – namely Kids Help Phone,” noted Ms. Murray. “We felt that there was a good opportunity to reach out to students while they ride the bus.”
The poster campaign was launched in coordination with Pink Shirt Day on February 28th, along with a promotional video.
STEO has also established various resources for schools and parents around emergency short-term busing, as well as an annual reference guide for school staff regarding best practices in student transportation.
Operations Manager Marc Gosset also discussed some of the challenges that have arisen for bus companies due to the current bus driver shortage.
“The shortage is impacting the consistency of school bus drivers on daily routes, as well as availability of charter buses. Normally a bus company would have a driver pool with a ten per cent spare ratio, and a few charter drivers. Right now the charter drivers are driving school routes, the spare drivers are driving school routes, and office staff are helping with school routes,” explained Mr. Gosset.
STEO has been working closely with schools to help alleviate and find solutions to this shortage, including the need for charter services for special student day trips. The problem is not unique to Eastern Ontario, and the shortage is being experienced by school boards across the province.
A new BusPlanner Delays App has been launched recently, offering “push” notifications for school bus delays and cancellations. The BusPlanner Delays App is available for Apple or Android devices and can be downloaded free of charge by school staff, parents and guardians. The app allows for notifications that are specific to a child’s school, and bus route.
“Thank you for making this presentation this evening. I do know from representation of our Board on the STEO Committee, Vice-Chair Ron Eamer, Trustee Nancy Kirby and Associate Director Bonnie Norton, continue to update us on the good work happening at STEO and this evening’s presentation certainly reinforces those reports,” concluded Chair Todd Lalonde.
Renewed Math Strategy Provides Intensive and Targeted Curriculum
CDSBEO has engaged in rigorous and purposeful Renewed Mathematics Strategy programming and learning for both students and staff over the past two years. This plan aligns with the Ministry of Education’s focus on increasing student achievement, increasing educator math knowledge, and building capacity in the area of mathematics.
Principal of Curriculum Dawn Finnegan, and Curriculum Consultant Patrick McLeod, presented details of the CDSBEO Renewed Math Strategy to the Board of Trustees. This is the second year of Ontario’s Renewed Math strategy (RMS) and the CDSBEO continues to take intensive and targeted steps to improve mathematics achievement across the Board.
“The Ministry of Education has clearly outlined the four main objectives of Ontario’s Renewed Mathematics Strategy. The first priority is focused on increasing student achievement, well-being and engagement in mathematics,” began Mrs. Finnegan. “We want our students to understand and have a growth mindset towards mathematical learning. Naturally, the second objective is to increase educator math knowledge and their pedagogical expertise; this priority will help teachers as they continue to enhance and engage their students in innovative approaches to learning mathematics.”
She continued, “The third area of focus is to increase leader knowledge of effective mathematics pedagogy which will continue to contribute to system improvement. Finally, the fourth objective is another fundamental piece of improving achievement in mathematics, which is increasing parent engagement in their children’s mathematical learning. Our presentation tonight will outline the many ways that the CDSBEO is ensuring that these key objectives are being fulfilled.”
The CDSBEO has created a Numeracy Learning Cycle that has been in place since 2017. There are a number of integral components that allow educators and school leaders to come together to collaborate and share best practices around mathematics education. These components include: the Principal Advisory Committee, a leadership steering committee unique to CDSBEO in Eastern Ontario; the Leaders in the Middle sessions, which brings together principals, special education teachers and mathematics leads from each school to provide guidance and resources to help school teams increase student achievement in mathematics; the Regional Math Sessions, a joint effort between the Curriculum and Special Education Departments that emphasizes both the mathematic curriculum expectations and essential strategies and supports for all students, as well as students with additional learning needs; and, the school-based Divisional Math Meetings, which take place three times per year, and give school teams an opportunity to examine the strategies discussed at the Regional Meetings, as well as the Leaders in the Middle sessions. These professional development opportunities are an excellent means to build teaching capacity, and to encourage educator collaboration and learning.
A number of mathematics resources have also been developed by the board to help ensure supportive math learning for students.
“The Curriculum Department’s Weekly Tips highlights resources that can be used in the classroom,” explained Curriculum Consultant Patrick McLeod. “Over the past two years, this weekly email has included a math puzzle of the week. The purpose of the puzzle is to have students think critically about mathematics and how they can use their knowledge of computation to solve the value of each puzzle piece. Amazingly, these puzzles have taken off, and students are now building their own puzzles to share with their peers.”
Students have described the puzzles as a fun and engaging way to learn mathematics and solve problems.
The Curriculum Department also released Olympic themed resources in the areas of numeracy, literacy, French as a second language, Indigenous studies and Kindergarten. The math team provided schools with math questions for every strand in the primary, junior and intermediate divisions. Teachers appreciated these resources as it demonstrated ways to make cross-curricular connections between mathematical concepts and an important global and cultural event.
Technology is also used across the Board to help engage students in math learning. Tools include Dreambox, Math is Visual, and Explain Everything. These tools help students to assess and learn math through varied means, including images, visuals, videos, spoken words, games, and other activities.
Other events and professional development opportunities have been provided for educators at all levels, including the Early Years Math Collaborative Inquiry, Junior Numeracy Skill Builder Sessions, the Grade 9 Numeracy Foundations Course, Senior Math Tournaments, and Parent Math Nights to help engage parents in math learning.
“I would like to congratulate the Curriculum Department on the excellent strategies that are being implemented throughout our Board,” noted Trustee Brent Laton. “I know first-hand that the Puzzle of the Week is an excellent strategy that is engaging students in mathematics learning.”