Director's Update

Posted On Friday May 17, 2024

Dear Families, 

As we embrace the rejuvenation of spring and anticipate the upcoming long weekend, I wanted to take a moment to touch base with you and share some important updates from the Durham District School Board. Amidst the flurry of activity as students complete final projects, prepare for graduation ceremonies, and celebrate their achievements, I am grateful for your continued support and partnership in your child’s educational journey. 

In an exciting development, I am pleased to share that the Ministry of Education recently unveiled plans to allocate funding for the construction of three new elementary schools within our District. This announcement marks a significant milestone in our ongoing commitment to providing accessible, high-quality education to all students. With the ongoing population growth in the Durham Region, the demand for additional educational infrastructure has become increasingly evident. These new school additions respond to this demographic shift, ensuring that we accommodate the growing needs of our community. The new school builds will not only serve as educational hubs, but also as inclusive spaces where students can learn, grow, and thrive in an environment that fosters creativity, innovation, and academic excellence. 

Earlier Friday, we recognized the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia. This day holds significance as it raises awareness that despite progress toward equitable inclusion, individuals within the 2SLGBTQI community continue to experience exclusion and unsafe environments. Under the theme “No One Left Behind: Equality, Freedom, and Justice for All”, we reflect on how we can collectively affirm the dignity and care of those with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions. Symbolizing our commitment to fostering inclusivity and acceptance, the Progress Pride flag has been raised at the DDSB Education Centre and all 135 schools as we have done since 2015 and will be flown until the end of June, coinciding with Pride Month. Additionally, our Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs) will play a pivotal role in commemorating this important day through student-led initiatives, amplifying the importance of fostering understanding, acceptance, and support for all members of our school communities. 

Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to participate in two significant events: the Cypher Black Male Empowerment Conference and the Empower Her Conference for Black-identifying female students in Grades 6 to 8. Through interactive workshops, discussions, and networking sessions, participants gained insights and mentorship to navigate academic pathways and leadership opportunities. Rooted in our commitment to fostering safe, equitable, and inclusive learning environments, these conferences engaged students with a network of supportive peers, elders, and community partners, all working collaboratively to encourage them to embrace their potential to thrive.

Across the District, EQAO testing is ongoing or upcoming at the Grades 3, 6, and 9 levels. These assessments track student progress in literacy and numeracy relative to curriculum expectations. The results identify strengths and areas of growth and inform instructional strategies to promote student success and well-being. EQAO assessments serve as valuable tools for educators and policymakers, providing insights into the effectiveness of teaching methods and curriculum implementation, ultimately contributing to the continuous improvement of Ontario’s education system. The outcomes of these assessments are shared in the Fall.

During Children’s Mental Health Week (May 6 to 10), we focus on acknowledging and reinforcing efforts to support mental health in our schools. Each year, this week presents as an opportunity to prioritize the well-being of our students and promote positive mental health initiatives. Through awareness-raising activities and initiatives, we aim to reduce stigma surrounding mental health and empower our students to seek help when needed. Together, we will work toward creating a school community that prioritizes mental health and supports every child. 

On May 30, the DDSB will host its third-annual Student Art Gallery, featuring a district-wide collection of artworks centered around the theme “My Journey, My Joy, My Genius.” Open to students in Grades 7 to 12, the gallery celebrates individual perspectives on connection and community. Students are encouraged to showcase their creativity through artwork and accompanying stories that reflect their personal journey, sources of joy, and expressions of genius. This theme invites students to explore the diverse facets of their experiences, highlighting the unique qualities that shape their identities.

Additionally, I am pleased to share with you that the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association (OPSBA) and the Association of Municipalities of Ontario have launched the Healthy Democracy Student Leadership Award, available to graduating high school students who will begin post-secondary learning in 2024. Applicants should demonstrate strong leadership, community involvement, and a commitment to civic engagement. More details on the application process are available on the OPSBA website

Thank you for your continued support and involvement in your child’s education. Together, we are shaping the future for our students. 

Warm regards, 

Camille Williams-Taylor 

Director of Education 
Durham District School Board