Premier's Safe Schools Awards

2010/11 Premier's Safe Schools Awards recipients

Orangeville District Secondary School, Orangeville
Upper Grand District School Board

Exceptional Engagement

Orangeville District Secondary School faced challenges with students feeling they were not being heard on important issues, so staff implemented a range of activities to better engage students and parents. Here are just a few of the approaches they used:

  • Focus groups where students provided their input about what was happening at their school
  • Specialized programming developed to meet the needs of all students
  • Thank you cards and awards to recognize positive behaviours
  • A "wall of fame" to highlight student achievement, past and present.

Parents continue to be actively engaged through ongoing information sessions and increased parent-teacher communication. The school has also developed community partnerships that help deliver programs, such as an anti-violence workshop and a Young Parents Program. As a result of these initiatives, suspensions have declined substantially, student interaction is more positive and both parents and the community are more connected to the school.

St. Philomena Catholic Elementary School, Fort Erie
Niagara Catholic District School Board

Community Connections

St. Philomena Catholic Elementary School has positively changed its school climate through teamwork and collaboration among students, staff, parents, the school board and its community agencies. The school recognized that to meet the needs of families it needed to become a "community hub" where local support services are available for families.� Community hub partnerships provide:

  • Help for children with mental health issues
  • Coaching on bullying prevention behaviours
  • Programming to prevent gangs from forming
  • Girls' and boys' self-esteem programs.

Student-led activities at the school include:

  • Peer Buddy Program with JK and SK students and Grade 8s
  • Pay it Forward �featuring activities and "kindness coupons"
  • Training for junior students to organize activities for primary students during recess.

Parents are involved with the school by sharing information about their careers with students in the classroom.

St. Philomena has seen positive results: discipline issues have been reduced while parents are providing more help with behavioural issues and helping to improve the school climate.

Dunrankin Drive Public School, Mississauga
Peel District School Board

Parent Power

This school had challenges with the socio-economic factors in their community that put students at risk and has been working hard to address these issues. Their work is paying off: the past two years have seen positive changes in the school climate. A focus on community, character education and parent involvement has contributed to a significant reduction in both suspensions and behavioural issues.

Programs for students include:

  • Good character awards
  • Girls' friendship club
  • Pen pal programs with students from other schools
  • A play that involves each student enrolled at the school. �

Parents are now taking a more active role in the life of the school with the help of outreach opportunities organized by the school. These include:

  • Workshops for parents that offer practical ideas on discipline and suggestions on how they can help their children with homework
  • A Family Education Symposium that provides information to newcomers about navigating the Ontario education system
  • An Open-Door Policy which means that principals and vice principals are available to parents so they can talk about issues or concerns
  • "Readiness Centres" designed to prepare preschool students for kindergarten that parents can attend with their children.

As a result, Dunrankin Drive Public School has seen a significant improvement in parent engagement. Increased parent participation in the school has led to a considerable drop in suspensions and other discipline-related activities.

Eastdale Secondary School, Welland
District School Board of Niagara

Bullying Prevention

Through a student-initiated survey, the safe schools team identified the need for training to define, handle and report bullying incidents at school. Eastdale took a "whole team" approach to address bullying by encouraging more student initiatives, greater parent involvement and increased participation by staff and community groups.

The school's efforts are making a difference. An online incident reporting form on the school website encourages students to report bullying.� As a result, more incidents are being reported and dealt with by staff.� Other student-led initiatives include:

  • Love is Louder campaign that encourages students to offer support to other struggling students
  • Day of Silence to demonstrate how victims of bullying feel silenced, as well as Pink Shirt Days and Purple Shirt Days.

Community groups are also involved with the school to provide advice on safe schools, bullying, peer mediation training, positive mentor relationships as well as ideas on reducing victimization and anti-social behaviour. These measures are making the school environment more positive, respectful and inclusive.

Saint Paul Catholic High School, Niagara Falls
Niagara Catholic District School

Social Climate Change

This school has seen many positive changes thanks to the success of the Social Climate Committee which has worked to change the perception of bullying and create a welcoming, inclusive environment. The committee is made up of parents, students, teachers, a police liaison and administrative staff.� Some of the committee's initiatives include:

  • Social climate surveys to identify improvements and find solutions to issues
  • Music classes where students write and professionally record songs to promote safe schools
  • A video called "It Gets Better" that offers students a message of hope
  • "Random Act of Kindness Day", a day organized by students
  • Bullying prevention presentations by students for students and
  • Bullying prevention information packages for parents.�

The school has been so successful with their efforts that other schools in the Niagara region have approached school staff for advice about creating their own Social Climate Committees.

Fletcher's Meadow Secondary School, Brampton
Peel District School Board

Diversity Matters

The population in the community around Fletcher's Meadow has increased rapidly, creating challenges for the school environment. Staff, students and parents identified issues relating to student behaviour and bullying as key areas for focus.

The safe schools team addressed these concerns by:

  • Establishing an extra-curricular program
  • Creating opportunities for Student Voice with more student-led clubs and teams
  • Offering staff training in equity, progressive discipline/restorative practices and bullying prevention and intervention
  • Encouraging stronger parent involvement
  • Developing and strengthening community partnerships.

Some specific activities included:

  • A principal's breakfast where students met with the principal to discuss issues and ask questions
  • Inter-faith symposiums that provided opportunities to learn about diverse cultural traditions
  • "Student of the Month"spotlight that celebrated academic achievement and positive behaviour
  • Workshops for Grade 9 students to help them handle peer pressure
  • Establishment of over 70 student-led clubs and teams including a Cultural Club, Black History Club, Pride Club and a prayer group for Muslim students.

Through these and other positive activities, Fletcher's Meadow has seen reduced suspensions, improved attendance and increased academic achievement.

Grimsby Secondary School, Grimsby
District School Board of Niagara

Students move school "Beyond the Hurt"

Grimsby Secondary School realized that bullying was not well understood in all of its forms so it mounted a student-led campaign to address the issue. A student group called the Power Rangers initiated "Beyond the Hurt", a bullying and harassment prevention campaign which involved classroom visits, an assembly and an elementary road show. The Power Rangers also recruited staff to help, asking teachers to follow these three steps when they encounter bullying:

  • Stop the behaviour
  • Name the behaviour as bullying and
  • Ask for change.�

Teachers have responded by volunteering to be part of a "Go-To Teachers" group who offer students help with bullying or harassment.� As a result of these efforts the number of students receiving discipline for bullying and harassment has declined and there is a high level of student participation in school teams, clubs and charity events. As a symbol of their inclusive environment, the school has welcome signs in multiple languages and bullying prevention posters proclaiming, "Bullying is not OK here".

Errol Road Public School, Sarnia
Lambton Kent District School Board

Supporting Positive Behaviour

Errol Road Public School started the Positive Behaviour Support program as a pilot project but it has been so successful that it has become the basis for interactions at the school and helped to create a positive school climate.� The program sets out the behaviour expectations at the school: Respect, Attentive Listening, Appreciation and Participation.

These expectations have helped to spark a range of student activities such as student-led monthly character development assemblies. Another example is junior and intermediate students who act as the program "Captains" in the school. As Captains of Attentive Listening, Respect, Appreciation and Participation, these students recognize and support positive behaviour in all students. Positive behaviour is reinforced daily with tickets and weekly draws for prizes, and acknowledged and celebrated monthly with ribbon ceremonies. To ensure the school is inclusive, the school has reading buddies, bowling buddies, track and field buddies as well as peer buddy programs. �

Implementing the program has resulted in declining office referrals and suspensions along with an increase in parent engagement and community partnerships. In the words of a staff member, "Positive Behaviour Support is no longer a pilot program, it is a way of being together that is understood by staff and students and is often commented on by visitors to the school." �

Edenbrook Hill Public School, Brampton
Peel District School Board

Connecting families with school life

Edenbrook Hill Public School is a large and diverse school. By successfully connecting students and their families to school life, the school has created a safe and inviting school community. Students take an active role in their education by setting their own learning goals with parents and teachers and leading student conferences. Grade 5 students participate in a leadership program and are trained in mediation and conflict resolution skills so they can act as peer mediators on the playground.

The school ensures ongoing communications with parents and caregivers through student agendas, "Good News" notes and phone calls, home-school folders, school and class newsletters and parent meetings. Parents are also involved as volunteers at the school and their contributions are acknowledged at appreciation celebrations.�

Through these activities and programs, the school has achieved a high level of student attendance and involvement in extra-curricular activities, reduced office referrals for behaviour issues and decreased rate of suspensions.

Check out this video and see Edenbrook Hill students in action

Dr. G.W. Williams Secondary School, Aurora
York Region District School Board

From Research to Results

This school started its safe schools planning by learning more about safe schools programs and understanding its own school climate by using student questionnaires. This research led the school to encourage more student-led activities, parent engagement and community partnerships. This resulted in:

  • Increased student participation in activities such as Pink Shirt Day
  • Improved results on the 2010 Student School Climate Survey
  • Better communication with parents, with almost 90% of parents getting connected to the school through email.

Students are more involved in the school by leading activities such as:

  • A Peer Mentors team-building assembly for grade 9 students
  • The Buddy Program to support full inclusion of all students
  • Bullying Awareness and Prevention Week.

Parents are engaged through regular communication such as:

  • Parent Tell, a weekly newsletter to parents
  • The Parent Handbook.

The school also works with community partners who provide support with substance abuse issues, and help promoting diversity and physical activity.

The climate at this school has benefited from all of these activities. As the School Resource Officer commented, "The social-emotional environment of the school is one that creates a safe and caring environment for all".�