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March 25, 2009 - Education/Human Resources Committee Minutes
Education/Human Resources Committee
March 25, 2009

A meeting of the Education/Human Resources Committee was held at in the Board Room at the Limestone Education Centre, 220 Portsmouth Avenue, Kingston, on Wednesday, March 25, 2009, at 4:30 p.m.                       
Present Trustees:
G. Beavis, Chair
H. Brown
H. Chadwick
A. Goodfellow, Ex-Officio
D. Jackson
B. McLaren

P. Murray
Present Staff:
B. Fraser-Stiff, Superintendent of Education
D. Kirkpatrick, Recording Secretary
A. Labrie, Superintendent of Human Resources
N. Marsh, Superintendent of Education
B. Woodley, Executive Assistant and Supervising Principal
Chair Beavis called the meeting to order, welcoming those present to the meeting.

Approval of Agenda                                                                              

MOVED BY Trustee Goodfellow, that the agenda, as distributed, be approved.–Carried

Roots of Empathy

Beth Woodley, Executive Assistant and Supervising Principal, introduced Liz Bates, a retired Limestone District School Board teacher, noting that Ms. Bates is passionate about the Roots of Empathy Program.  She indicated that Ms. Bates will provide an overview of the program.

Ms. Bates thanked the Committee for providing her with an opportunity to talk about Roots of Empathy.  She said that she believes it is a wonderful success story, and a very important and powerful preventive measure.  She commented that she will talk about the basic Limestone Roots of Empathy facts, then provide an overview of its goals, and then describe how the program works.

Ms. Bates said that Roots of Empathy is a huge, well-established organization, developed by Mary Gordon.  They own and control the curriculum, the training and the mentoring.  They are uncompromising in assuring their standards are met.

Ms. Bates indicated that Roots of Empathy has been well researched by the University of British Columbia, OISE, the University of Missouri and others.  The story is that the first research, done by the University of British Columbia, showed Roots of Empathy to be so successful in lowering aggressive behaviour and raising levels of pro-social behaviour, that they did not trust the results and waited for the second round to get confirmation.

Ms. Bates stated that in the Limestone District School Board, nine classrooms are being run, seven grade 1 or grade 1/2, and two grade 8 classrooms.  The instructors in the grade 8 classrooms are staff from Pathways and Youth Diversion.  The other instructors are volunteer community members and two Early Years Centre staff.  The schools where the program is running are: Sharbot Lake Public School, The Prince Charles School, Amherstview Public School, Central Public School, Frontenac Public School, First Avenue Public School and Rideau Heights Public School.  Ms. Bates said that First Avenue and Rideau Heights Public Schools are the two schools where the program is being run in both grades 1 and 8.  She said that everyone involved in this program believes that through this program, we are changing who these children will be – what kind of members of society and what kind of parents.

Ms. Bates said that Roots of Empathy is a program designed to teach children emotional intelligence, to develop an understanding of their own and other people’s feelings, to give them a vocabulary for that, and a comfort level in talking openly about it.  It tells them to be aware of how they make other people feel.  It tells them that they have a responsibility if they see someone else being put down or bullied, or just feeling sad.  She said that they talk about when a baby smiles and how that makes them feel.  It gives them the idea that they have the power to make other people feel good just by smiling.

Ms. Bates remarked that Roots of Empathy teaches a model of social responsibility that creates more pro-social behaviour and less negative and aggressive interaction.  On a large scale, it creates a more civil society, and at a very practical level, it creates more teachable classes.

Ms. Bates reported that Roots of Empathy has curriculum for Kindergarten, Primary, Junior and Intermediate levels.  Part of every curriculum is learning about personality traits and using that knowledge to help make sense of who we all are.

Ms. Bates commented that in Roots of Empathy classes, a lot of time is spent on observing and reflecting.  Children learn that we are born with nine personality traits that determine our temperament and influence how we behave and how we respond to things.  Ms. Bates stated that in classes, she often links what she sees the baby doing to his temperament and then later relates that to the students themselves.  This constant acknowledgment of our diversity creates a foundation for acceptance, respect and tolerance.

Ms. Bates stated that the Roots of Empathy Program is designed to be offered to regular classes, not targeted groups of students, partly because we all need to develop emotional intelligence, even those of us who do not present any obvious problems within the classroom.  Ms. Bates indicated that the baby is absolutely the key to the success of the program.  When the baby is the focus, everyone’s defenses are down and they are open to really looking honestly at feelings.

Ms. Bates commented that it is an unthreatening situation when you first talk about the baby and other’s feelings, then generalize those ideas, and then apply them to yourself.  She said that in discussions in Roots of Empathy classes, we are often amazed at how willing the students are to open up and tell about their own feelings.

Ms. Bates reported that for the Roots of Empathy Program, a mother and new baby (aged 2 to 4 months) are assigned to one classroom for the school year, and a Roots of Empathy curriculum is taught to that class, by a trained instructor.  There are three lessons each month, for nine months, with nine themes.  The curriculum and the support materials needed are provided by Roots of Empathy.  Ms. Bates said that the curriculum is linked to observations of the relationship between the mother and baby, and the baby’s developmental milestones during that first year of life.

Ms. Bates advised that the highlight of the program each month is the mother and baby visit.  The children develop a real bond with their baby, celebrating new skills, talking about issues around sleep, safety, dreams and feeding.  When the baby smiles at them as only babies can do, the students are hooked.
Ms. Bates provided a couple of examples of the kind of things that happen.

Ms. Bates said that a bulletin board outside the students’ classroom shows their baby, and the work they do in this program.  Principals are invited to share news about the program through the school and the community.  At the end of the year, there are celebrations both in the classroom, and here at the Limestone Education Centre.  She said that she hopes to honour the moms, babies and instructors.

Chair Beavis thanked Ms. Bates for providing information about the Roots of Empathy program.

Trustee Murray and Ms. Bates withdrew from the meeting. 

Long-Term Suspension/Expulsion Program

Daren Dougall, Executive Director, Youth Diversion, and Emma-Jane Ethridge, Behaviour Analyst, SNAP Program, were present.

Mr. Dougall commented on the great partnership Youth Diversion has with the Limestone District School Board.  He said that the work being done in schools relates to prevention and early intervention.

Mr. Dougall stated that Youth Diversion first introduced a suspension program over 10 years ago, noting that it was on the “cutting edge” at the time.  He said that when a young person was suspended, the school board had the option of sending him/her to Youth Diversion.  At that time, Youth Diversion provided services on a one-half day basis.  He commented that program ran for a long time.

Mr. Dougall stated that as a result of the Government of Ontario’s commitment to Bill 212, Safe Schools, the Board responded to the requirement of a non-academic program and academic program for students who were on long-term suspensions or who were expelled.  Boards were required to offer at least one long-term suspension and expulsion program.  Mr. Dougall said that as a result of the request for proposal that the Board put out, Youth Diversion developed a program
based on best practices.

Mr. Dougall stated that Youth Diversion considers a young person’s safety, and the safety of a school when they receive a student.  Youth Diversion wants to ensure that young person is dealt with safely and that his/her return to school is as safe as possible.  He said that teaching empathy is a huge piece.  He said that Youth Diversion helps a young person develop skills to respond to school life differently.  He said that the role of Youth Diversion is to reintegrate a student to school; their focus is on reintegration.

Emma-Jane Ethridge stated that when a student is suspended or expelled, before they enter the SNAP Program, he/she needs a Student Action Plan, and that the school develops the plan.  It outlines what things the student needs to achieve before he/she returns to school.  She said that the Student Action Plan also outlines an academic component so that the student can continue his/her education and not fall behind.  Ms. Ethridge commented that the SNAP Program uses the cognitive behaviour approach, looking at the thoughts that caused the behaviour and how to change that behaviour.  She indicated that their classrooms are highly supervised.  Ms. Ethridge stated that the focus of the program is to get students back into school.  She indicated that the program has Student Support Counsellors, and that the program plans for the reintegration of students back into the classroom.  Ms. Ethridge indicated that the program has grown, and it is now a full-day program.  The students are getting more of the skills they need to help them in the future.

Mr. Dougall stated that the full-day program allows them to better assess the student.  He said that Youth Diversion takes the most oppositional students, noting that the reentry of these students back into the classroom has, for the most part, been very successful.  He said that the full-day program allows staff to see more of the core issues.

Mr. Dougall stated that the students in the program are not permitted to make friends with other students in the program, and that any movement in the building is supervised.  He said that the students are engaged.  He said that the volunteers and students are keen to become involved.

Mr. Dougall reported that so far it has been a good year, noting that they have a lot more students who have been expelled.

Mr. Dougall stated that he is proud of the Limestone District School Board and the former Frontenac County Board of Education for their judicious use of the program.  He said that the young people who are sent to Youth Diversion are well served by them; they are well supervised and progress reports go back to the school and to Ms. Woodley.  He said that they help to plan for the student’s success once he/she is back in school.

Trustee Goodfellow stated that she sits on the Expulsion Hearing Committee, and she is pleased that the students who are expelled get help.

In response to comments from Trustee Jackson, Mr. Dougall stated that the RFP required statistical reporting be done in June.  He said that he will ensure that report reflects back on the year so that the Board can identify what they want to do in September.  He said that the Board’s commitment to student safety is well recognized and well appreciated.

In response to a question, Ms. Woodley stated that the RFP was awarded on a 10-month basis (September-June), noting that some students go to summer school.  She said that the Board is looking at the safety issue around program in summer school.  She said some students, particularly those on long-term suspension, will end up going to summer school.

Mr. Dougall stated that as a social service agency, Youth Diversion operates programs and services over the summer, and that there is no reason why these students could not take part in a program.  He commented on Camp Outlook through Queen’s University.  He said that their summer programs are not academic, and that is a point that they will take into consideration.

Trustee Beavis thanked Mr. Dougall and Ms. Ethridge for providing the above-noted information.

Mr. Dougall and Ms. Ethridge withdrew from the meeting.
MEND (Mediating by Empowering Using Nurturing Dialogue) Program

Judy Tetlow and Shawn Quigley of the MEND Program, were present.  They provided the following information:

Overall Goals

•       Provide restorative options
•       Support and educate youth and staff
•       Improve student and community connections
•       Develop student empathy and awareness
•       Decrease the need for punitive consequences
•       Improve relationships
•       Develop self sustaining “caring culture”


•       Pilot in 10 local schools
•       Over 400 staff trained at level 1
•       Over 65 staff trained at level 2
•       Over 100 youth have been involved in MENDing circles: Bullying/Vandalism/Harassment/ Assault
•       Over 260 student trained to conduct MENDing conversations
•       More than 1,300 students introduced to concepts
•       Focus on Sharbot Lake High/Intermediate School as a restorative school

Ms. Tetlow and Mr. Quigley reviewed information about the Restorative School Approach, the LDSB Progressive Discipline Continuum, as well as the Triangle of Interventions.

Creating a Restorative School

•       Received $27,000 from OESC
•       Introduced MEND to entire school population
•       Staff and student training
•       Community partner meeting
•       Ongoing support and training
•       Restorative Umbrella working group
•       Celebration day
•       Overall sustainability


•       Increased understanding re: restorative approach
•       Increased use of alternative consequences (mind set)
•       Student “buy in” (leadership level)
•       Significant staff interest in program development
•       Improved empathy and awareness for students
•       Connections with existing programs
•       Community interest and involvement
•       Recognition of “branding”
•       Partnership with Queen’s University

Effectively Implementing Restorative Practices in a School Setting

•       MEND Approach
•       Key elements of success
•       Challenges: red flags
•       Implementation strategies

Ms. Tetlow and Mr. Quigley displayed “Youth Diversion News”, December 2008 edition, and commented on Rachel Hendry’s Grade 4 class at Westdale Park Public School’s involvement in the MEND Approach.  They indicated that Ms. Hendry has crafted a comprehensive unit on Restorative Practices that she has creatively integrated into classroom curriculum.  They indicated that Ms. Hendry’s students were so well trained that they provided MENDing Conversation cards for them in follow-up visits.  They commented on the arguments that they had staged in front of the students during two consecutive years, noting that each time the students intervened and helped, using questions they had been trained to use.  The students supported one another and together they effectively resolved the “conflict”.

Ms. Tetlow and Mr. Quigley invited Committee members to attend a Level 1 MEND workshop that is tentatively set for Wednesday, April 22, 2009 at Zorba’s on Bath Road.  Sign-in and continental breakfast at 8:15 - 8:30 a.m.  The workshop will end between 3:30 and 4:00 p.m., with lunch and snacks included.

Mr. Beavis thanked Ms. Tetlow and Mr. Quigley for providing the above-noted information.

Student Support Leadership Initiative (SSLI) Presentation

Ms. Woodley introduced Mary-Lynne Cousins-Brame, SSLI Coordinator.  She advised that the initiative was the result of two ministries (Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Child and Youth Services) working together.  She said that the ministries needed to be talking together to provide services for our communities around the mental health issues of our students.

Ms. Woodley stated that we are doing the work of year one and two in year two.  She reported that Ms. Cousins-Brame is part of year one/two plan.

Ms. Cousins-Brame stated it was a pleasure to be in attendance at this evening’s meeting to provide information about the Student Support Leadership Initiative.  She presented the following information:

Joint Project

Ministry of Education – Amendments to safe school provisions and related Policy/Program Memoranda

Ministry of Child and Youth Services – A Shared Responsibility: Ontario’s Policy for Child and Youth Mental Health

Common Themes

•       Shared responsibility in terms of child and youth mental health and ensuring safe schools
•       Prevention, early identification and intervention
•       Promotion of protocols and linkages
•       Ministry collaborations
•       Continuum of flexible services and supports
•       Engagement of family
•       Increased understanding and knowledge
•       Evidence-based practices


•       To foster leadership within and across school boards and community agencies to establish or enhance local partnerships that will better meet the needs of students and families through collaborative planning, coordination and referrals.

School and Community-Based Service Collaboration

•       “Growing recognition that: on their own, schools are neither capable of, nor responsible for, providing more responsive services and ensuring better results for children and their families.  Schools, however, are increasingly recognizing their changing role as essential partners in establishing collaborative and partnerships.” (NCREL, 1997:1)

•       SSLI:           

        Establishing and enhancing effective and sustainable partnerships between school boards and community agencies to better meet the needs of these students and their families

Provincial Goals

1.      Improved understanding of each cluster member’s services.
2.      Improved joint decision-making process.
3.      Improved access to existing services and supports for students and families.
4.      Cluster 20 additional goal: Explore ways to enhance current protocols.

Coordinator’s Role

•       Support the building of partnerships between school boards and community agencies.
•       Enhance and improve the ways school boards and community agencies use community tables to jointly plan service delivery.
•       Identify gaps, barriers and challenges to assist in developing a detailed joint action plan.
•       To create a Best Practice document.

Provincial Involvement
•       Cluster 20 – a chosen sample Cluster to work with Centre of Excellence
•       Role to assist in enhancing provincial understanding and knowledge of system needs
•       Opportunities for improvement in leadership and partnership development across sectors
•       To provide input into policy direction and best practice

Chair Beavis thanked Ms. Cousins-Brame for providing information about the Student Support Leadership Initiative.

Ms. Cousins-Brame and Ms. Woodley withdrew from the meeting.

Revisions to the Upcoming LEAP/Challenge Selection Process

Superintendent Fraser-Stiff distributed a report regarding the LEAP and Challenge Selection Process Review.  She provided a chronology of LEAP and Challenge Program reviews since the inception of the programs, as follows:

2000                    LEAP and Challenge Programs opened
June 2001               Program Review
2003 & 2004     Information meetings with school staff regarding improvements to various aspects of the program, including application process, selection process, equity and communications with parents
2006                    Section Process Review – resulted in revisions to include First & Second Round Selection to improve equity of opportunity for students
November 2008   Parent delegation to the Education/Human Resources meeting presented the following concerns:
                        •       equity and fairness of selection process
                        •       criteria used in determining successful candidates
                        •       purpose of program – who does it serve
                        •       gender imbalance
2008-2009               Program Review – Two step process:
                        a)      Review of Selection Process – Recommendations for interim selection process to Executive Council and board of Trustees in March 2009.  Interim revisions to be implemented in spring 2009 selection process
                        b)      Full Program Review – Facilitated by Pat Warren-Chaplin, the program review will examine the delivery model of the LEAP and Challenge programs.  A full report to the Board is anticipated in 2009.
Superintendent Fraser-Stiff said that the review of the selection process consisted of a series of meetings with a steering committee comprised of LDSB Principals, Vice-Principals, Program Consultant and Superintendent, and meetings with the LEAP and Challenge Program teachers and administrators.  It is noted that the recommended revisions would inform an “Interim Selection Process” for the 2009-2010 school year.  It is anticipated that the recommendations from the full program review may lead to further revisions to the process.

Superintendent Fraser-Stiff said that the interim selection process revisions addressed the concerns regarding the gender imbalance and the equity and fairness of the selection process.  The issues of selection criteria and the purpose of the program will be examined during the full program review.

Superintendent Fraser-Stiff advised that Executive Council reviewed the following revisions to be implemented in the upcoming Interim Selection Process:

1.      The Board hire a “Registrar” to receive the applications for the LEAP and Challenge Programs.  The Registrar will collate the criteria data used for determining successful candidates.  The Registrar will arrange for the anonymous scoring of the academic assessments for the Challenge applicants.  Letters of acceptance, wait list and decline will be sent by the Registrar from the Board.  Parent questions will be fielded by the Registrar.
2.      Anonymous scoring of Challenge program academic assessments by non-program teachers.
3.      Remove Teacher Checklist from application package.
4.      Include non-Board staff (community members) with expertise in the arts/enrichment and education on the School Orientation Day Teams.
5.      Gender Imbalance: During the 2nd Round Selection procedure, offer spots based on gender with the goal being 1/3 female, 1/3 male, 1/3 either gender, given the candidates meet the criteria, while respecting the student quota per Family of Schools defined by the Selection Round Procedure.  It is also recognized that the LEAP Program historically receives fewer male applicants than female applicants.

Superintendent Fraser-Stiff stated that the full program review for the LEAP and Challenge Programs, facilitated by Pat Warren-Chaplin, will examine the purpose of the programs and ensure the criteria and selection procedures are aligned with current educational direction and curriculum expectations.  The review will include visits to the classrooms as well as consultation with teachers, parents, students and administrators.  Information will be gathered from other boards of education with similar programs.  A report of the full program review is expected to be received by the Board in 2009.

In response to a question from Trustee Chadwick regarding the costs, Superintendent Fraser-Stiff stated that the cost is an estimate.  She said that the costs incurred for the entire review, including the hiring of a Registrar, and the hiring of community members, and supply teacher costs to cover the scoring of Challenge program academic assessments by non-program teachers, will be approximately $20,000 for this year.  She said that the costs could be different next year, pending the results of the full program review.  Superintendent Fraser-Stiff said that the money will come from her curriculum budget, and the Director will support the costs through her budget as well.

Trustee Jackson stated that he welcomes some changes going forward, noting that the budget costs will be an issue.  He referred to the French Immersion issue at the Halton District School Board, and the parents using the Ontario Human Rights Code.

Trustee Goodfellow stated that the Trustees have been pushing for a review of these programs, and she has known that there would be costs associated with the review.  She said that the Registrar may be a temporary position and she does not believe that Trustees are over extending the budget.

Superintendent Fraser-Stiff distributed a Question and Answer sheet about the LEAP and Challenge selection process.

Chair Beavis thanked Superintendent Fraser-Stiff for providing the above-noted information.

Other Business

Trustee Jackson advised that the Social Planning Council of Kingston Area is partnering with People for Education for a dialogue about public education and broader connections between schools and communities.  The “Schools at the Centre” community dialogue will take place on Tuesday, April 28, 2009, at the Kingston Public Library, in the Wilson Room, at 7 p.m.  The panel will be lead by Annie Kidder, People for Education Executive Director.

Next Meeting Date

The next meeting of the Education/Human Resources Committee is scheduled for Wednesday, April 15, 2009, at 4:30 p.m.

MOVED BY Trustee Goodfellow, that the meeting adjourn at 6:35 p.m.–Carried