Adding leadership smarts to book smarts

TCDSB explores various initiatives for student growth

The Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) has implemented new programs to build student leadership, as well as other personal growth and educational benefits.

Director of Education Angela Gauthier gave her update to the trustees at recent TCDSB meeting. Karina Dubruvskaya, a student trustee with the board, also spoke to this program’s success.

“Students are able to partake in many different workshops to develop their leadership skills,” Dubruvskaya said.

She added that they learn a lot about Aboriginal communities and how leaders can solve issues surrounding them. The program also had a motivational speaker for the 200 students that attended.

This was just one of the programs that have been in effect in the past few weeks.

“There was the ‘Voices That Challenge’ at St. Michael’s College for secondary students,” Gauthier said.

This was a conference that was held by the TCDSB to also promote social justice issues. It further allows students to network with teachers, find ways to get involved, opportunities to provide input to student trustees and building leadership within the student body. The board has also emphasized indigenous culture and perspective within these programs.

“The Kairos Blanket at Mary Ward Centre is a phenomenal exercise in partnership with Mary Ward, in regards to indigenous history,” Gauthier said. “Our students go down and love the exercise that teaches them about that particular chapter through Canada’s development.”

The board has also strived for women’s empowerment through the ‘Power of a Girl’ conference. Student leadership was a clear priority for the board, as they held another conference for it.

“The ‘i-Lite’ conference for student leadership was phenomenal,” Gauthier said.

It included workshops for leadership, skill development and networking opportunities. She said that 2,400 students attended the conference for leadership and girls on the rise activities.

The board also held “cardboard boat races,” an event that gets groups of students to construct cardboard boats and compete in speed and weight challenges. The exercise teaches leadership, teamwork, math, technology and problem solving skills.

“I know that STEM activities and emphasis on math and engineering encourages students to apply to math, technology and engineering,” Gauthier said.

There is also a program called Voila Learning, which offers one-on-one French Immersion support, both online and in-person help.

“It is one of the few services that exist for supporting French learners and we all know how we struggle to find a program with resources in that category,” Gauthier said.

Students are able to log on at any hour to get help with their French homework.