Annual School Councils’ Report shows community engagement in our schools

The 2015-16 Annual School Councils’ Report was presented at the Committee of the Whole meeting on Monday, November 14th. Every school council submits their own report to the Waterloo Region District School Board near the end of the school year. The report outlines their engagement with the needs and desires of their own school community.

School Councils serve as an important tool to provide feedback and input into our schools and their surrounding communities. They provide a forum in which parents and caregivers, along with community partners, can interact with school administration and teachers leading to improved school environments, increased resources for student achievement, and the fostering of community involvement and giving. Each school is unique, but common themes emerge which reveal an interesting reflection of the concerns of our larger organization.

An exciting point of interest from this year is a focus on technology in the classroom, with elementary school council’s providing funding for over 65 Chromebooks, as well as over 35 iPads. Funds were also used to subsidize school trips, classroom supplies, home reading programs and extracurricular clubs. Councils also showed the importance of reaching outside of their own schools by spearheading programs for holiday toy drives, refugee welcome supplies and many other initiatives.

School councils often help to organize and pay for special events, extending learning experiences outside of the classroom. Family game nights, art, math and science events, guest artists, performers and educational speakers are all wonderful examples of what councils help to provide schools. MacKenzie King Public School’s council helped to run an “Inquiring Minds Exhibition” where students initiated a project of inquiry based on their own interests, that they completed with their parents. These were displayed for all students and families to enjoy. Eastwood Collegiate Institute’s (ECI) Council aided in bringing the second annual Human Library event to fruition, which included 18 human “books” and students, parents and community members widely attended.

Often councils set long term goals, and it is very rewarding to be able to congratulate them when these goals are achieved. Empire Public School council obtained their three-year fundraising goal of $65,000 for a natural year-round playground, providing an imaginative outdoor space for both learning and leisure. Many councils echoed similar goals and initiatives to improve green space and outdoor play areas

Student and family wellness were a major point of interest for the majority of councils. Workshops addressing personal health, anxiety, resiliency, online safety, nutrition and more permeated the reports. One particularly creative example of this was Grand River Collegiate Institute’s (GRCI) initiative towards stress management during exams. Council provided stress-busting activities such as bracelet making, colouring, connect the dots, volleyball, therapy dogs, bubble wrap popping stations, study tips video and workshops, as well as greater access to computer labs after school to help with workload.

These are just a few of the examples of the amazing work that is accomplished through the support of School Councils, and we are proud to have such dedicated parents and caregivers as partners in our school communities.