Engage with the community
As part of the We Rise Together
action plan, the Peel District School Board is committed to community engagement, through a number of methods, throughout the school year, to ensure all voices are heard.
After engaging in an extensive student and community consultation process, in an effort to gain an understanding of how to best serve Black male students in Peel and gain public trust and confidence, the Peel board has formed the We Rise Together
Advisory Council. The council consists of two Peel Black male students, three parents/guardians of Black Peel students representing the municipalities of Brampton, Caledon and Mississauga, Peel board Trustees and staff, and representatives from the following community organizations:
- BCF Church
- Black Community Action Network (BCAN)
- Caribbean-Canadian Parents United
- Congress of Black Women
- Free for All Foundation
- Jamaican Canadian Association
- Malton Black Development Association
- Peel Association of African Canadian Educators (PAACE)
- Peel Regional Police
- United Achievers Club
- United Achievers Community Services
- United Way Black Advisory Council
- United Way of Peel Region
The advisory council meets on bi-monthly basis five times a school year to review, discuss and support the progress of the action steps in all four We Rise Together
priority areas. The council has met three times so far, with two more meetings scheduled in April and June. Click here to view the minutes of the October 16, 2017 meetingClick here to view the minutes of the December 14, 2017 meeting
The Peel Association of African Canadian Educators (PAACE) has supported two community and parent engagement sessions. The first was held on Sept. 16, 2017. The second was held Oct. 28, 2017 at Turner Fenton Secondary School where Peel board staff shared information on early years programming, graduation requirements and mental wellness.
Deliver anti-Black racism and bias awareness professional developmentSince the start of the 2017-18 school year, the Peel board's senior leadership team, school administrators and school success action teams have engaged in mandatory anti-Black racism and bias awareness training to address the marginalization of Black male students. These staff groups are learning about dynamics of power and privilege, the impact of racial stereotyping and understanding student resistance.
Together, we will address the focus areas, build capacity and provide all educators with tools to understand and challenge personal privilege and bias. With support, we will create relevant, authentic and meaningful learning environments to support the social, emotional and academic needs of all students including Black male students in the Peel board.
As part of the work to deliver anti-Black racism and bias awareness professional development, Peel board equity curriculum staff are working with the staff at 13 We Rise Together pilot schools. These schools will meet over six days. The first two days focus on building a shared anti-racism and anti-oppression framework, which includes building a common vocabulary about sociocultural awareness. During days three and four, the educators will focus on connecting the past with the present by learning about Afrocentric Canadian history, anti-Black racism in Canada, the treatment of Black males in Canada, and the ways in which Black Canadians continue to resist these multiple oppressions. The last two days will focus on exploring anti-racism, and discussing how the group can consider engaging with anti-racist practices in schools.
Overall, the work in the 13 We Rise Together schools will uncover how educators: think about anti-racism work; learn about Afrocentric history; explore notions of Black masculinity; and reflect on how our understanding of each of the above impacts school programs, structures and pedagogical practices. The Peel board's research department is capturing how or if educators' thinking and practices change as a result of this professional development. This research will inform future work on embedding anti-racism professional development and implementation into the system.
Integrate the experiences of Black Canadians into curriculum
In the summer of 2017, a group of educators—vice-principals, teachers and the Peel board's equity lead—worked on the We Rise Together
monograph to provide teachers with curriculum links to support their instructional practice. The monograph will provide teachers, from kindergarten to grade 12, with lesson plans and resources to infuse the curriculum with perspectives of Black Canadians. We expect to release the monograph by December 2017.
In partnership with this work, a number of secondary schools have identified teachers who are already infusing the curriculum with the voices and history of Black people, including David Suzuki, Louise Arbour and Castlebrooke secondary schools. With the expertise of these staff members, we will take the best practices from their work to create lessons that teachers can use across high schools in Peel.
Teachers from David Suzuki and Castlebrooke SS are working on lesson plans to embed the African Canadian experience into the grade 10 mandatory history curriculum and the open course in grade 11 on African Canadian Studies, which are both to be available for students in 2018-2019 school year.
In January 2018, the curriculum department provided all Peel schools with Black History Month resources that encouraged schools to consider:
- How, and to what extent, do we integrate the heritage, cultures and experiences of Black students into our curricular programs?
- How can the inclusion of Black history, heritage and experiences into school curriculum: a) make learning more meaningful, authentic and relevant for Black students? b) help to paint a more extensive and fulsome picture of Canada that is inclusive of multiple viewpoints and/or perspectives?
Inspire Black student leadership and engagement
On October 25, 2017, 176 staff, representing 82 schools and three office locations within the Peel board attended a We Rise Together
Teacher Symposium at Turner Fenton Secondary School. The symposium was open to all teachers in the elementary and secondary panel and saw participation from other staff including teaching assistants and social workers.
The goal of the symposium was to provide educators with an opportunity to network and learn how to develop Black leadership and mentorship programs at the school level.
To meet this need, the format for the symposium took the form of three workshops:
- How to Start a Mentorship Program
- Mentorship, Leadership and Student Engagement
- Maintaining and Sustaining the Program
In addition to the workshop specific information, participants also received a Community Resource List which includes the names of individuals that could potentially be brought into schools to present and work collaboratively with young Black men. It was a very successful and positive event on all accounts, and participants provided direct and anonymous feedback in which they shared that they felt empowered and more knowledgeable about engaging in this important work.
Work towards the Annual Student Leadership Conference for Black male students is well underway. This year's conference will be held at University of Toronto – Mississauga Campus on Thursday, May 3, 2018 for 500 middle school students and on Friday, May 4, 2018 for 500 secondary students.
A third event has also been added to the student leadership conference – on Saturday, May 26, 2018, a select group of students will present their year-long journey to their parent(s)/guardian(s). This event was added as a means for family members to hear directly from the students themselves and to provide a powerful platform for the individual student voices of our young Black men to be shared. The keynote speaker and workshop presenters are still being determined, but excitement and interest is building as the conferences draws closer.