School population: 1710; Grades: 9–12; Principal: George Voumvakis
Bur Oak continues to experience growth in student enrolment. Over the past five years (2009–2014), there has been a 26% increase in enrolment in applied courses and 46% in academic. The school has a large population of English language learners of whom approximately one-third are international students. The school has adopted multiple approaches to address the wide range of learning needs among its diverse population.
Believing that meaningful learning happens in a collaborative context, the staff engages in networked learning communities comprising system support staff, school administrators and teacher leaders. In the school, learning communities focus on improving student achievement by changing classroom practices. Teachers at Bur Oak identify strengths and specific areas for improvement in their EQAO results and classroom data. Their analysis has shown that students were having difficulty reading and understanding the questions on math assessments, so they focused their collaborative inquiry on teachers’ learning needs in the area of questioning.
Teachers have high expectations for students, and they are dedicated to helping all understand mathematical concepts. As well, the principal believes in the value of placing teachers where they are needed most. Student success teachers, special education teachers and guidance counsellors are put in place to support English language learners and students with special needs. A staff member with a strong math background leads staff in professional development on topics such as teaching students how to read text and how to navigate through questions.
Bur Oak has developed alternative programs to meet the needs of students in both academic and applied who have not been successful in mainstream programming. Various deliberate and strategic options are offered.
classrooms that encourage participation and engagement. Students know that no matter whether they are in the applied or the academic stream, their curriculum includes the same important concepts and that they are valued.
"EQAO data helps us to cross-reference where our strengths and areas for improvement are and where we need to invest our energy. We use it to affirm our goals at the system level, and it becomes another measure to focus our strategic planning and our school priorities. Our data helps us develop our theory of action and continuously refine next steps. We use it to verify and identify and to program for at risk students."
"York Region District School Board has demonstrated strong leadership in providing professional learning to support provincial testing. As an administrator, [I think] the board’s area network meetings have proven to be an incredibly effective tool. I’ve greatly appreciated the support I’ve received from my board, which has included transition meetings with our local elementary schools. These transition meetings build important bridges between the elementary and secondary panels, helping our schools to better assess and address student needs."
—George Voumvakis, Principal
School Profile and Results
Dr. Bette M. Stephenson Recognition of Achievement, 2015 School Recipient.