We are committed to providing safe, healthy and caring learning and working environments that are respectful, inclusive and welcoming for everyone.
Safe and healthy schools
The Safe, Caring, and Accepting Schools Committee met in December 2015 with representation from school staff, central staff and community partners.
Staff also met with our co-terminous boards, and police partners to update the Police Board Protocol. Community Threat Assessment Training took place for administrators, police and community partners in the winter/spring of 2016.
Climate surveys for all elementary and secondary students (Grades 4-12) using the Tell-Them-From-Me Surveys were conducted. The-Tell-Them-From-Me student survey was completed by a total of 9,466 students. This comprehensive survey captures more than school climate data: it provides schools with the opportunity to receive personal and insightful feedback directly from students. Staff and students then use that information to engage ongoing dialogue focused on creating meaningful learning environments in our schools.
Staff in all schools utilized effective progressive discipline strategies, including the Mediating by Empowering with Nurturing Dialogue (MEND) restorative approach. There were three Level 1 MEND training sessions completed for staff during the 2015-2016 school year. There were also 105 staff/teacher meetings completed with MEND staff. Ongoing support has been provided with 37 classroom MEND workshops completed, with almost 700 students being trained. There have also been 35 Full Class Circles (596 students involved), and 33 Student MEND Circles, involving over 400 students. Twenty-seven students also received Student MEND training this year.
Mental health & wellness
Mental health and wellness continued to be a priority of the Board through the implementation and monitoring of research-based programs that support students and staff, and the development of a broader Mental Health Strategy.
Mindfulness training was expanded and the Board continues to offer an eight-week intensive program, as well as, a less intensive option for staff who can utilize the strategies independently. The staff wellness committee continues to meet with representatives from various employee groups to respond to recommendations and needs.
The Ministry of Education released its revised Health & Physical Education curriculum for students in Grades 1-12. The updated curriculum reflects health, safety and well-being realities faced by today's students, as well as teaching on healthy relationships, consent, mental health and online safety. Ninety per cent of this updated curriculum focuses on the area of healthy living for our students. The revised curriculum was implemented in the 2015-2016 school year.
A culture of respect and inclusion
The LDSB continues to implement the recommendations from the Ministry of Education’s Equity and Inclusive Strategy as they are initiated by the Regional Equity and Inclusion consortium. Limestone's Equity, Inclusion, and Human Rights Advisor provided several professional learning opportunities across the district. During the year, 39 schools, approximately 5,000 students, and 400 staff were involved or participated in these activities. This work includes collaboration with a wide-range of community partners and organizations.
Limestone’s goal is to ensure that all schools have appropriate accommodations for students or staff who desire increased privacy regardless of the reason. Students and staff now have access to gender-neutral washrooms at some schools with the introduction of new signage. Providing gender-neutral washrooms goes beyond creating a safe and inclusive culture. Both Bill 13: Accepting Schools Act, and the Ontario Human Rights Commission indicate that transgendered people, or those who are questioning their gender identity, have the right to use whatever washroom best corresponds to their gender identify, regardless of their sex assigned at birth. The Board has also developed draft guidelines for supporting and protecting transgender and gender non-conforming student and staff rights.
The Accessibility Committee and appropriate LDSB departments continue to facilitate compliance with the Integrated Accessibility Standards under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2005 as outlined in the LDSB Multi-Year Accessibility Plan. The Board continued its review of accessibility awareness training; the status of capacity of school libraries and; accessibility features related to Board and school websites. An Accessibility newsletter was also distributed electronically to all staff in October 2015.
The LDSB partnered with the Learning Disabilities Association of Kingston to present a series of workshops on technology-related topics and how they can support student learning. Topics included an overview of technology in the classroom: connecting school to home; accessibility features on the iPad; accessibility features of Microsoft Office365; and accessing documents on any device.
Limestone recognized Mental Health and Education Week with a focus on wellness rather than illness – for everyone. Schools, families and the public were able to follow #LDSBeWell on Twitter to learn how the Board is supporting wellness across the district. @MentalHlth_LDSB posted mental wellness tips and strategies for schools to share with their larger communities through the social media campaign "Achieving Excellence: Promoting Well Being."
The Tarp project
The Tarp Project was one of several transition activities undertaken by both First Avenue and Frontenac Public Schools as they come together to become the new school community of Molly Brant Elementary School. Each classroom had its own duct tape, tarp and markers. Students were then encouraged to express and contribute to a classroom community tarp, which would serve as documentation of the ideology of the schools, and document the union of First Avenue and Frontenac Public Schools.
Perth Road Public School’s "Character Capes" was one of many issues-based arts education projects funded by the Ontario Arts Council. The idea of a hands-on group project based on the theme of character was developed by Grade 6 teacher Kelly Graham, and textile artist Elinor Rush, as a way for students to develop their own character while learning to respect the many voices and personalities of their classmates. The character traits are based on the traditional Teachings of the Seven Grandfathers.
Focus on youth employability
High school students spent March Break getting a jump-start on employment skills. Fifty-eight students representing nine secondary schools spent the week developing their leadership and supervisory skills, understanding conflict resolution and learning various activities for children. The program is designed to help get youth job-ready for employment opportunities before graduation. View highlights via Storify.
Welcoming Syrian newcomers to Limestone
The LDSB works closely with the Kingston Immigration Partnership (KIP) as well as several other community partners to welcome and support Syrian newcomers to Kingston. Preparations include providing education or educational supports to school-aged children. There are about a dozen Syrian-born children attending Limestone schools, all of whom are being sponsored by community agencies or church groups.
Students and staff now have access to gender-neutral washrooms with the introduction of new signage. The goal is to ensure that all schools have appropriate accommodations for students or staff who desire increased privacy regardless of the reason. So far, 19 single-stall bathrooms have been designated “universal” or gender-neutral washrooms at several schools. New signage will continue to be delivered to schools throughout 2016-2017.
Celebration of Dance
More than 3,000 elementary students participate annually in KFL&A Public Health's Celebration of Dance at Fort Henry. Students are motivated to move in their "bubble of awesome" as they dance their way to healthy, happy living. This year, LDSB added a Celebration of Dance West for students of Fairfield, Amherstview and Odessa Public Schools. Check out #CelebrationofDance via Storify.