HPEDSB announce goals in newly developed strategic plan

The HPEDSB Education Centre. (Desirée Decoste/Gazette Staff)

 

DESIRÉE DECOSTE

STAFF WRITER

A new strategic plan has been approved for Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board (HPEDSB).

The 2020-2025 Strategic Plan: Learning Together represents a fresh, new focus at HPEDSB. The plan is based on the principles of equity, and a fundamental belief in student achievement and improvement.

The plan has been in development since December 2019 when community input was invited. Since then, HPEDSB Board of Trustees and senior staff have completed extensive research and consultation, including the collected input from students, families, employees and the community from December 2019 to February 2020; identified common themes to determine strategic priorities from January to April 2020; and participated in strategic planning retreats to define a vision, mission, goals and progress indicators.

“For everybody what I would say the new strategic plan represents is a couple of key things one it represents change, so I think that is something that should not be lost on anyone,” stated Sean Monteith, Director of Education with HPEDSB to The Gazette. “I think if I had to summarize it in two basic assessments that might have meaning to people, what I would say the new 2020-2025 strategic plan: learning together, represents is a clear commitment to system improvement, meaning getting better, and it also represents a very visceral and sincere commitment to equity and those are two very, very public and really leadership stances or educational stances in positions that we’re taking.”

The new strategic plan features the following updated mission, vision and five goals:

Vision: Lead with integrity and high expectations for all.

Mission: Inspire curiosity, display compassion and empathy, nurture individuality and foster a sense of community on our journey to higher achievement.

Goals:

  • Improve Student Success and Achievement
  • Foster a Culture of Excellence and High Expectations
  • Promote Safety and Well-Being
  • Strengthen Community through Equity and Social Justice
  • Ensure Responsible Communication

When asked about how the board will roll out these focusses into the classroom and halls, Director Monteith responded there must be a way to synergize these elements to those working and learning in the classroom.

Director of Education with HPEDSB, Sean Monteith.

“First off you need a vision and a focus, you need to analyze your needs, which we’ve done, you need to assess the system in all the areas all the schools in all the grades, and so what we know is that we have to take all the time we are going to need, and we’re not wasting time in fact I’ve already started to introduce the plan to school administrators and particularly key staff already this week,” Monteith said. “What we have to do is introduce the strategic plan to our frontline staff, our teacher, our support staff, people who work with students with special needs, people who works with our first nation students. Then we have to explain why the goals are important and why those indicators are needed to support  those advancement of those five goals.”

Director Monteith mentioned some examples of goals the HPEDSB have in the new strategic plan and how critical the goals are.

“For example the first goal in the plan, and not order of hierarchy but just the first goal in the plan is Improve Student Success and Achievement, and you’ll notice that every goal starts with a verb or an action word that was not by accident or coincidence that was intentional so improve student success and achievement, what does that mean? it means we want to see improvements annually in students and how they perform in the provincial assessments, so Grade 3 and 6, Grade 9 math and Grade 10 literacy test, those are otherwise known as the EQAO assessments and really why are they important? What I would say is they’re the really only external provincial measurements that schools boards are required to administer,” he said. It’s good for us because one it sees how we’re doing against the provincial expectations and two, it allows us to see how we’re doing with other boards which has great impact because if we know we are not performing at a way we should or at a way we want to, that means we have to look at what’s happening in classrooms, what are we teaching, how are kids learning, what do teachers need to meet the needs of our kids better, what do students need? and so there is all kinds of factor.”

Director Monteith went on with another example of the same particular goal explaining how the board will put a heavy emphasis on the on the importance of early literacy and early language acquisition skills. 

“Another example I’ll give you in that particular goal that is very detailed and very specific,” expressed Director Monteith. “Is that we are going to put a heavy emphasis on the importance of early literacy and early language acquisition skills, which is important. So if your a teacher in Kindergarten to Grade 3 that should be music to your ears because it means now theres not just a blank statement about early literacy, it’s basically saying we recognize as a board the fundamental skills required for reading and reading comprehension, the skills to be able to express yourself in an oral sense, like an oral language have articulated and receptive language skills in kindergarten, Grade 1, Grade 2 and Grade 3, are so important were going to dedicate the resources we need, to the training we need, to the materials we need and we may even need more staff in those early grades because we believe if we take direct aim at early literacy and early oral language skill development we’ll ultimately have better graduation rates at the end of grade 12. So this plan really does take a big picture, long-term game approach and it’s really committing ourselves to the improvement of students and to the improvement of our staff in their own learning in their own skills.”

The new plan takes effect in January 2021 and will be in place until the end of 2025. It will guide annual board improvement planning and school improvement planning. A mid-term review is set for December 2023.

“So for anybody in the system, what does that represent? It represents that the board is taking a very public stance on not only welcoming everybody, which is an easy thing to say we welcome everybody, we welcome all diversity, all backgrounds, cultures, ethnicities, race, religion, gender, but it means we now take a stand and we’re recognizing there are inequities in the system and that now were going to analyze and find out what exactly those inequities look like and how there impacting certain students in different ways. The strategic plan needs to be viewed as a journey, not as an event. It’s a marathon, it’s not a one off and were done. I would even say it was a lot of work to get a brand new strategic plan like this created, drafted, agreed to by many strong voices around the table, so that part is done but I would say as hard as that was, the really hard work now begins.

“This strategic plan represents a new beginning, and hope for our students and their families,” expressed Lucille Kyle, Chair on the Board with HPEDSB. “It was truly a community effort, which is important for a public school board. As trustees, this work is important to us. I want to thank everyone who was a part of the journey. We look forward to taking supportive, equitable and restorative approaches to our work.”

For more information please visit www.hpedsb.on.ca/2020/new-strategic-plan-focuses-on-equity-and-improvement