McKellar Park Central School

2017 School Recipient of the Dr. Bette M. Stephenson Recognition of Achievement

School Profile and Reports

McKellar Park Central School is presented with the Dr. Bette M. Stephenson Recognition of Achievement from Norah Marsh and Dave Cook, respectively CEO and Chair of EQAO.

Selection Criteria

Equity and inclusion is a priority for EQAO and, this year, the agency sought to highlight the work being done by schools to address equity-related challenges. School recipients of the 2017 Dr. Bette M. Stephenson Recognition of Achievement saw an increase in the percentage of students with special education needs meeting the standard on either the reading or writing component of provincial assessments from 2014 to 2017, and these schools clearly demonstrated that their analysis of EQAO data helped inform decisions about initiatives to support student learning better.

McKellar Park Central School

Student population: 180
Grades: JK–8
Principal: Jo-Anne Giertuga

  • The Biwaase’aa Program enhances cultural awareness, learning and peer mentorship in the school. As part of this program, the Indigenous youth outreach worker provides mentoring, cultural teaching, education support, counselling and lunch for students.
  • The McKellar community has a large population of Indigenous students (approximately 90%), with 5% being English language learners whose first language is Oji-Cree.
  • Staff are provided with significant professional development in culturally responsive practices, cultural sensitivity and Indigenous ways of knowing and being.
  • Support from Elders and knowledge keepers are fundamental to the school’s encouraging environment.

McKellar Park Central School serves students from junior kindergarten to Grade 8 and has an enrollment of approximately 180 students. It is one of 23 elementary schools in the Lakehead District School Board. From the moment students step onto the property, they can feel what the school values: children and their success. Visitors are greeted by beautiful learning gardens created by parents, students, staff and community members, while the handprints of the students and the adults in their lives lead the way.

“Everyone is welcome at our school. We are taught to respect each other’s differences. We learn about First Nation culture and get to participate in pow wows. My school makes us all feel like we are a family.”

— Student

What is the profile of this school community?

Profile of Grade 3 and Grade 6 Students

Grade 3
Grade 6
Number of Students
19
22
Number of Classes
1
2
English Language Learners
0%
0%
Students with Special Education needs (excluding gifted)
58%
41%
First Language Learned at Home Was Other Than English
0%
5%
STUDENT STATUS
Born in Canada
95%
100%
In Canada Less Than One Year
0%
0%
In Canada One Year or More But Less Than Three
0%
0%
In Canada Three Years or More
5%
0%

“I like to use the iPads because I can play math games like Math Prodigy, and it helps me to get better in math. The computer helps me with my reading and writing. Using the Smart Board is a fun way of learning, too. My teacher is teaching us how to play Minecraft. That is really cool”

— Student

How have the results improved?

“In math we all get to use the small whiteboards to show our thinking. When we think we have solved the problem, we all hold up our whiteboards at the same time. Even if we don’t get the right answer, our teacher tells us it’s okay to make mistakes, because this is how we learn. Then we share and explain our answers with the class or with our elbow partner”

— Student
Photo of school team.
Eric Fredrickson, Jo-Anne Giertuga, Issabelle Taylor, Tanja Coghill, Kris Sandberg

EQAO cohort data—including achievement, behavioural and attitudinal data—was used with Item Information Reports and classroom and school data to guide next steps for professional learning based on student needs. Trends and patterns in the data revealed a need to continue focusing on school-home connections and parental engagement while also building student self-efficacy. Regular monitoring of literacy and students with Individual Learning Plans (IEPs) revealed that many students struggled with reading and lacked confidence in their abilities.

What initiatives have contributed to this improvement?

Building Relationships with Parents

Building community connections and a welcoming environment for student and their families is a priority. Staff work alongside families to encourage regular attendance. McKellar Park Central School also takes a unique approach to teacher interviews: parents are invited to share a meal with staff at feasts and then to visit the classrooms so that their children can showcase the work they have been doing. Building closer relationships with families provides a stronger foundation for students who might otherwise be at risk academically and emotionally.

“Targeted instruction that meets the needs of all learners, allowing multiple entry points for the wide variety of learners”

— Kris Sandberg, Teacher

Knowing the Learners

A continuum of learning that identified the learning needs of students with IEPs also revealed that many of these needs were similar or related to those of other students. Staff recognized that many students had difficulty making connections between texts and themselves. These students did not know how to relate to what they were reading, so staff members used experiential learning to help them develop their personal schemas. As well, culturally relevant books were purchased to start home-reading and reading buddies programs. As a result, students were able to make meaningful connections with the texts.

“The most important thing is to meet kids where they are at, not where they are supposed to be. It’s when we target each student’s specific learning strengths and needs are we able to move them forward. We’ve really developed a mindset that everyone can learn and that as teachers, we need to believe in all students and find what it is that moves them forward.”

— Tanja Coghill, Teacher

Building a Positive Growth Mindset

Through the analysis of EQAO and school data, staff discovered that many students did not perceive themselves as learners, so the creation of a growth mindset became the school’s most critical need. Teachers were intentional about developing perseverance and a positive growth mindset in their students by promoting the value of learning through making mistakes and reviewing and retrying actions. Consequently, students are not only taking more risks in the classroom but also believing that they are capable and that their personal experiences make them stronger.

“A culture of hope is fostered when students, staff and parents feel supported, welcomed, included and valued. As the school leader, it is important to take the time to listen and to understand the needs of our school community and provide and create positive opportunities and experience to help break down barriers. By fostering trusting relationships, we build a better and stronger school community so that we can move forward in the spirit of healing and reconciliation.”

— Jo-Anne Giertuga, Principal

How we analyze the data

Staff at McKellar Park Central

  • Examine data trends and patterns to focus on school-home connections, parental engagement and student self-efficacy
  • Regularly monitor literacy and students with IEPs

How we put the data into action

  1. Build relationships with parents
  2. Provide culturally relevant learning materials
  3. Build a positive growth mindset
  4. Guide teacher professional learning based on student needsaaaaaa

Grade 9

Sudbury Secondary School, Rainbow District School Board
Maxwell Heights Secondary School, Durham District School Board
M.M. Robinson High School, Halton District School Board
Elmira District Secondary School, Waterloo Region District School Board
St. Francis Xavier High School, Ottawa Catholic District School Board
John McCrae Secondary School, Ottawa-Carleton District School Board
Kenner Collegiate Vocational Institute, Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board
Regiopolis-Notre Dame Catholic High School, Algonquin and Lakeshore Catholic District School Board
St. Benedict Catholic Secondary School, Sudbury Catholic District School Board

Elementary Schools

Pine Grove Public School, District School Board of Niagara
St. Gabriel Catholic Elementary School, Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board
Sister Catherine Donnelly Catholic School, Simcoe County District School Board
St. Matthew Catholic School, Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board
Fleming Public School, Toronto District School Board
Springbrook Public School, Peel District School Board
Byron Southwood Public School, Thames Valley District School Board

OSSLT

Superior Collegiate and Vocational Institute, Lakehead District School Board
South Carleton High School, Ottawa-Carleton District School Board
Holy Names Catholic High School, Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board
Danforth Collegiate and Technical Institute, Toronto District School Board

Elementary Schools

McKellar Park Central School, Lakehead District School Board
St. Dominic Savio Catholic School, Waterloo Catholic District School Board
St. Bernadette Catholic School, Durham Catholic District School Board
Beverley Heights Middle School, Toronto District School Board
Pius XII Catholic Elementary, Sudbury Catholic District School Board
Sir William Gage Middle School, Peel District School Board
St. Martin School, Thunder Bay Catholic District School Board
D. Roy Kennedy Public School, Ottawa-Carleton District School Board

Grade 9

Maple High School, York Region District School Board
Essex District High School, Greater Essex County District School Board
Mississauga Secondary School, Peel District School Board
Governor Simcoe Secondary School, District School Board of Niagara
Cardinal Carter Catholic Secondary School, Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board
Earl Haig Secondary School, Toronto District School Board

Elementary Schools

St. Edmund Separate School, Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board
Pleasantville Public School, York Region District School Board
Nelles Public School, District School Board of Niagara
St. Luke Catholic Elementary School, Nipissing-Parry Sound Catholic District School Board
St. Aloysius Catholic Elementary School, Waterloo Catholic District School Board
Centennial Road Junior Public School, Toronto District School Board
Dunlace Public School, Toronto District School Board
St. John XXIII Catholic School, Renfrew County Catholic District School Board
E. J. James Public School, Halton District School Board

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