I’m excited to welcome students and staff for the start of another school year. The Winnipeg School Division has worked hard in recent months to plan and prepare for the 2016/2017 school year. Students and community members will see many new programs in our schools this fall in addition to the world-class education they have come to expect from WSD. This school year will be…. inspired

Last year we started a conversation with our staff about innovation. The response was incredible. Our talented teachers explored an innovator’s mindset and pushed their understanding of education and the future of our classrooms. Students and parents will notice a difference in their schools and classrooms this fall. I’m confident these changes will inspire not only our students but our staff in pushing the envelope of possibilities.

The Board of Trustees and our staff made one thing clear in June: Everyone is Welcome in the Winnipeg School Division. The Safe and Caring Policy was passed creating a safe environment for everyone regardless of background. The policy formalized many existing practices and will support conversations in schools to ensure everyone has an opportunity to learn in the WSD. The amazing and positive response of our teachers was inspiring.

Languages are at the heart of culture. The WSD is excited to be offering three new bi-lingual language programs in schools this fall. Earl Grey School will introduce Spanish immersion to kindergarten students. In addition, Issac Brock School will see both Ojibwa and Cree bilingual immersion classes. Having our kindergarten students speaking the same language as their parents and grandparents is tremendous. The relationship between our schools and communities will only continue to strengthen as we engage and invest in the community’s needs.

Teachers and Parents have told us the value of full-day Kindergarten. And we have listened. The full-day kindergarten program will expand this fall to see 2 additional schools offer the program. With 11 schools offering full-day K, parents have the option to send their children to full-day Kindergarten class in every area of the division. Teachers tell us about their student’s school readiness and the expanded opportunities of full-day K. The confidence gained from the program will help these children grow for years to come.

The core school subjects of literacy, math, and science have always been the priority of the Division as well as classroom teachers. The Board of Trustees has invested in literacy programs and a science enrichment program at the inner city science lab, which has been made available to students across the Division. The WSD Math Task Force was developed to ensure we continue to use best practices in the delivery of math education at every grade level and in every classroom.

WSD’s teachers have spent a significant amount of their own time getting classes ready for the new year. Every day I’m inspired by our staff and their commitment to our students. I’m confident we will achieve great things this year.