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Class Project at St. Michael Catholic School in Ridgetown Receives World-Wide Recognition 

A student learning experience developed by a teacher at St. Michael Catholic School in Ridgetown has been recognized by the global partnership New Pedagogies for Deep Learning (NPDL), a world-wide collaborative initiative led by Dr. Michael Fullan, the former Dean of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.

In 2015-2016, six schools of the St. Clair Catholic District School Board entered into the collaborative inquiry.  Grade 7/8 teacher Andrea DeBruyn at St. Michael supported her students to delve deeply into a learning task entitled What Can We Do to Help Refugees?  It enabled students to research, write, produce and perform a play intended to educate other students, families and the community about the refugee crisis.  The project also included fundraising, through ticket sales, which helped support a refugee family locating in Ridgetown.

“Through drama, the students communicated the complexity of the refugee crisis, as they examined it through the perspective of a family and explored the challenges faced by refugees as they seek to improve their lives,” says Julie Knight, Principal of St. Michael Catholic School.

Recently, Ms. DeBruyn was informed in a letter from Dr. Fullan and his team that her exemplar had been selected as providing a rich description of deep learning and that it had “…contributed to our collective learning and understanding of deep learning and how it can support students world-wide.”  It will be shared on the international Deep Learning Hub, where teachers world-wide can collaborate and share strategies. 

“We are very proud of the work of Ms. DeBruyn and the tremendous journey of learning and discovery that led her students and their families to a new understanding of this important issue,” says Dan Parr, Director of Education.  “This is precisely the kind of innovative learning that we strive for as part of our strategic goals for students.”

Although this project has received tremendous recognition, it is representative of the kind of learning that takes place in St. Clair Catholic schools every day.  Every school has a team of educators and principals involved in professional learning to explore the role of teachers as “activators of learning,” who design learning experiences which build on learner strengths, needs and interests, using real-life, authentic connections.

“If we understand and implement the foundations and conditions for innovative learning, then all students will develop 21st century competencies, which will improve their achievement in literacy and numeracy,” says Laura Callaghan, Superintendent of Education.

In the photos above (top left) students perform the play "Run, Hide, Survive" about the plight of refugees; and (above right) students donate funds from ticket sales to members of the local refugee committee.

Dec 07, 2016

Chatham Man Shares His Late Wife's Passion for the Nativity with St. Clair Catholic Students 

Mary Lynne McNeil loved the story of Jesus' birth and for 50 years, she collected nativity sets depicting the holy scene of long ago, in a Bethlehem stable.

"They came from all over the world," says her husband, Jerry.  "Big and small, some with lots of pieces, and some with just a few, she was constantly adding to her collection.  Many of them were gifts from friends and family and they were all precious to her," he says.

When Mary Lynne died last January, just a few months short of their 50th wedding anniversary, Jerry decided he wanted to share her many gifts with young people; and so he contacted the St. Clair Catholic District School Board.  Elementary Chaplaincy Leader Margaret Palmer recently visited Jerry and gathered up the more than 40 nativity sets and will deliver them to schools throughout Sarnia-Lambton and Chatham-Kent, over the next couple of weeks.

"For many years to come during Advent, these nativity sets will appear on the prayer tables of every school in our district," says Ms. Palmer.  "It is an amazing gift to the students and staff of our Board."

Jerry says he is pleased to know that the beautiful scenes that brought Mary Lynne so much joy, will now be appreciated by many, many people.

In the photos (top left) Margaret Palmer and Jerry McNeil pose with just a few of the nativity sets he recently donated to the schools of the St. Clair Catholic District School Board; and (above right) one of the more than 40 scenes in Mary Lynne's collection.

Nov 30, 2016

St. Clair Catholic Elementary and Secondary Students Get an Opportunity to "Experience the Trades" 

Over two days this week, more than 600 elementary and secondary school students from St. Clair Catholic's Chatham-Kent schools attended the "Experience the Trades" event at the John D. Bradley Convention Centre in Chatham.

"This was a tremendous opportunity for our students to see first-hand the career options that await them in the motive power, construction, industrial and service sectors," says Warren Seton, Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program Coordinator for St. Clair Catholic.  "They were also able to speak directly with trades professionals."

More than 30 trades were showcased and each provided a hands-on activity, such as virtual welding, virtual back hoe operations, pipe bending, plumbing, floor panel construction, AutoCAD and 3D modeling, hairstyling, plant potting, hydro pole maintenance and auto mechanics.  Sixteen challenge games were also included in the auditorium displays.

The "Experience the Trades" event aligns with the new directives for Career and Life Planning, which assists students as they explore all four post-secondary pathways, including college and apprenticeships.  Students were also given a takeaway reflective assignment, which is to be completed as part of their personal MyBluePrint portfolio.

The event was co-hosted with four other area school boards from southwestern Ontario.

Nov 18, 2016
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