Excited for 2023 in SD73 - A Dual Focus on Learning and Wellbeing

Posted On Wednesday January 04, 2023

By Heather Grieve, Board Chair

January 4, 2023

At this time last year, I wrote an article about a delayed start back to school after the winter break due to COVID-19. Things have progressed since then and while globally we are experiencing the ongoing challenges of flu, respiratory illnesses, and COVID-19, in SD73, we are continuing to incorporate lessons learned throughout the pandemic by practicing daily healthy habits of checking for symptoms, not coming to school or work when sick, and practicing 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 last few years has not been easy, we have continued to grow as a learning community of students, parents, staff, and community partners.

In the Spring of 2022, we shared our District Strategic Plan 2022-2027. Together, over 2000+ participants articulated our District mission – 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.

At the start of this school year, each school community posted their initial draft of this year’s school learning plan based on the 2022-2027 District Strategic Plan with a learning goal and a wellbeing goal. To read school learning plans, visit the district website here. 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, drama), and how to collaborate, to think critically and creatively, and to 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 or 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 ways–secondary students composed and shared picture books to teach facts about water to elementary students as one example; and primary students wrote their own songs to share during a school celebration as another example. 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 wellbeing goal that is aimed at students feeling welcome, cared for, 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. Then they codetermined how to increase sharing comfortably in safe spaces in their school community. This kind of in-depth look at wellbeing through community engagement drives change and is inspiring.

As we continue to experience living examples of our district mission-in-action, I am excited to see what transpires in 2023 with a dual focus on learning and wellbeing with approximately 16,000 students in SD73.

This column appeared in Kamloops This Week: View from SD73 on Jan 4, 2023

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