We have experienced much change in the secondary panel in Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board. While this change is unsettling for many, it is harder to see the opportunity that lies before us in light of the decisions that have been made over the last few years by HWDSB.
Before I speak about the opportunities, I would like to acknowledge the challenges. Our secondary accommodation review and program strategy will change the number of our secondary schools from 18 to 13 over the next few years. Most of our secondary schools will be impacted in some way. They will either close or merge; they may be losing programs and students or gaining programs or students. This means that some students may need to change schools, others may not be going to the school that they always planned on attending, while others might believe that the Board should simply leave things alone.
The reality is that we cannot leave things alone. We have an opportunity before us to really serve each and every student in the 13 schools that will remain by creating inclusive learning environments. By downsizing the number of schools we have, by changing boundaries and by moving some programs, we are inviting a diverse population of students to study in each and every school. We are expanding the opportunities for our students because the enrolments will be healthier and students will have more choice in terms of the course they may take.
We are not only engaged in structural change, by closing or merging schools; rather, we are also engaged in a cultural change. Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board is saying that each of our secondary schools has the expertise to teach every student. Each of our secondary schools will hold high expectations for all learners. Each of our secondary schools will provide a pathway for every student. No longer will students have to go to certain schools because a particular school is the only one that meets their needs.
Our goal is that every student graduates and is provided the learning opportunities that will serve them well after they leave our secondary schools.
Though our graduation rate continues to increase in our Board, we know we can do better for our students, and we will. I accept the fact that there are challenges to the change process we are presently in, and some would suggest that the Board is spending too much money, or is hurting local communities, or is making ineffective decisions. I respect that people may have different views but, from an educator’s perspective, I would be remiss if I did not state clearly that we are creating a more inclusive learning environment that will certainly assist all of our students to achieve.
Please click here to take a look at my reflections that were published in the Hamilton Spectator.