Trustees and student trustees of Near North District School Board (NNDSB) are provided with several professional development (PD) opportunities throughout the year, in alignment with the board’s goal of ensuring trustees are supported as part of the strategic commitment to Excellence in Teaching and Learning. At the Jan. 10 Board meeting, several opportunities were brought forward for consideration.
The two student trustees, Allen Lewis Trodd and Cecilia Darling, were approved to attend the 2023 Ontario Student Trustee Association Board Council Conference taking place in Ottawa. This conference is held annually in February and includes sessions to help student trustees better understand their role. The breakout sessions allow student trustees to work with their designated board councils.
Trustee representation at the 2023 Public Education Symposium (PES), presented by Ontario Public School Boards’ Association (OPSBA) was discussed. NNDSB is limited in the number of trustees able to attend due to registration availability and cost. This is the first time the event’s been held in person since 2020.
The Board determined NNDSB would be represented by Erika Lougheed and Howard Wesley as the Chair and Vice-Chair. The PES takes place Jan. 26-28 in Toronto and is the premier professional development event for trustees. Other NNDSB trustees who want to attend are being waitlisted.
PES keynote speakers include Roda Muse, secretary general of the Canadian Commission for United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Chief Cadmus Delorme of Cowessess First Nation, and Nicholas A. Christakis of Yale University. Among the workshops trustees may select are rules of order and parliamentary procedure, resetting the curriculum through the prism of the Right to Read report, teachings from the land, online verification skills, equity, diversity and inclusion and solutions to address recruitment and retention of French teachers. There are also sessions about school board governance, a communications workshop for trustees and the role of OPSBA.
At the Board meeting, Chair Lougheed shared that trustees can look forward to a session being developed by the board’s Indigenous Education team. “It’s important that trustees understand the breadth and scope of Indigenous Education at NNDSB,” said Chair Lougheed. “The session will demonstrate how it connects with departments and the Board’s role in supporting Indigenous Education.”
As part of the on-boarding process for NNDSB trustees following the municipal election, Rusty Hick, the former executive director of OPSBA, provided trustees with effective school board governance training. He led the new Board through a session outlining the roles and responsibilities of trustees of Boards of Education and Directors of Education. Hick also covered the powers and duties found in the Education Act, including that Boards are explicitly required to promote student achievement, ensure effective stewardship of resources, and develop and maintain and monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of policies and structures.
Following the October election, trustees were also provided with an orientation binder that provided additional resources to deepen their understanding of NNDSB including documents such as the 2021-2026 Multi-Year Strategic Plan, NNDSB Governance Manual, trustee committee information and the Director’s Annual Report.
At the monthly Board meetings, professional development is a standing agenda item, indicating the importance the board puts on trustees’ on-going learning.