At this time last year, I wrote a column about a delayed start back to school after the winter break due to COVID-19.
Things have progressed since then. While globally we are experiencing the ongoing challenges of flu, respiratory illnesses and COVID-19, in School District 73, we are continuing to incorporate lessons learned throughout the pandemic by adhering to daily healthy habits of checking for symptoms, not coming to school or work when sick and practising good hand and respiratory hygiene.
As a district, we support wearing masks as a choice within an accepting culture in our schools and workplaces.
While navigating the challenges over the past few years has not been easy, we have continued to grow as a learning community of students, parents, staff and civic partners.
In the spring of 2022, we shared our 2022-2027 district strategic plan. Together, more than 2,000 participants articulated our district mission, which is to support learning opportunities and environments that inspire students to thrive.
The strength of that mission is evident and we will continue our efforts to bring this to fruition as we continue into 2023.
In September, as classes begun, each school community posted its initial draft of this year’s school learning plan, based on the 2022-2027 district strategic plan, with a learning goal and a well-being goal. To read school learning plans, visit the district website at sd73.bc.ca. These plans are fluid and will grow and change as living documents.
Learning goals are focused on developing students’ literacy and numeracy skills and their competencies, such as how to communicate in multi–modes (print, visual, digital, dance and drama), collaborate, think critically and creatively and empathize.
This is an evolution as, in the past, academics was about improving language and math skills without asking students to show what they know by applying it to real world problems or by presenting information in multiple ways to help everyone enjoy and understand the information.
I am honoured to be a member of the SD73 board of education, where I have the privilege of witnessing educational opportunities that inspire students to apply their learning and to share it with each other in meaningful and relevant way.
Examples of students applying their learning and sharing it with each other in meaningful and relevant ways include secondary students creating picture books to teach facts about water to elementary students, and primary students writing their own songs to perform during a school celebration.
Regardless of the exact nature of the activities, one common theme is that they draw on students’ interests and grow students’ competencies, while also developing their literacy and numeracy skills.
Every school has also articulated a well-being goal that is aimed at students feeling welcome, cared for and connected and having a sense of belonging while at school or participating in school or district-supported events.
In one school, students, staff and parents contributed responses to the question: What does it mean to belong in our school?
Their responses resulted in the common themes of being comfortable to share and feeling connected to one or more friends. They then co-determined how to increase sharing comfortably in safe spaces in their school community.
This kind of in-depth look at well-being through community engagement drives change and is inspiring.
As we continue to experience living examples of our district mission, I am excited to see what transpires in 2023, with a dual focus on learning and well-being with approximately 16,000 students in the school district.
Heather Grieve is chair of the School District 73 board of education. Grieve can be contacted by email at email@example.com. SD73 columns appear monthly during the school year in the print edition of KTW and online at kamloopsthisweek.com.