All posts by John Lewis

International Day for Tolerance – November 16

Today we observe International Day for Tolerance, declared first on November 16th in 1995 by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The tragic events that took place in Paris last Friday are a painful reminder of the hatred and intolerance that still exist in the world today. News of these violent acts of terrorism and the tragic loss experienced comes just days after we attended ceremonies to honour and remember those who served and sacrificed in the name of peace.


We are encouraged on International Day for Tolerance to take some time today to reflect on how we can be more understanding, compassionate, and accepting of others in our everyday lives and actions.


Remembrance Day Assemblies

Thank you to our staff and students for organizing and presenting at school assemblies across our school district in recognition of Remembrance Day. As a school community, these assemblies demonstrate the care, compassion and thoughtfulness of our students and staff in addressing critically important global issues at a local level.

I was pleased to attend Sutherland’s Peace Ceremony, which addressed our “place of privilege”, with reflections by students and special guests.

Adina Williams spoke of the contributions of First Nations soldiers who were conscripted into service to fight for Canada, only to have their status as ‘Indians’ stripped from them. Having fought for their country, the returning First Nations soldiers were prevented from returning to their traditional territories and denied entry to the reservations to live with their families. The approach taken by the Government was a continued effort to assimilate the First Nations people, preventing them from engaging in their cultural traditions, or use their language.

Bronwyn Curry shared her family story, reflecting on her grandfather’s experience with the Canadian navy during the Second World War, and later as veteran. As a young girl, she learned of the profound impact of her grandfather’s experiences in serving our country, and the atrocity of war and the loss of personal friends and comrades.

Dr. Roland Shulz, Sutherland teacher, shared a very personal story, retelling his mother’s experience as a child refugee, having to escape the Ukraine as the conflict between the fascist and communist regimes erupted in proximity to their homes and villages. Families were broken apart and forced to flee on foot and later by train, only to be placed in conditions of increasing danger. Dr. Shulz closed his comments acknowledging the immense challenges faced today by more than 60 million refugees.

In addition to these reflections, the Sutherland Ceremony featured a Welcome Prayer, song, music, and oral presentations by students and guest alumni. The audience of students, staff, parents and community members were respectful throughout the assembly. While I was able to experience Sutherland’s Remembrance Ceremony firsthand today, I am certain that the dignified and respectful approach taken was repeated in all schools across our School District.

poppyNorth Vancouver Remembrance Day Services will be held tomorrow in our community as follows:

Victoria Park Cenotaph, hosted by Royal Canadian Legion 118, North Shore Veterans’ Council, and the City of North Vancouver, with music performed by the Laudate Singers – 10:30 a.m.

Lynn Valley Village, hosted by the Royal Canadian Legion 114 – 10:30 a.m.

Cates Park – 11:00 a.m.



Queen Mary Receives Award of Excellence

I am pleased to announce that DA Architects and North Vancouver School District received the Award of Excellence in the restoration category for the Queen Mary Community School Seismic Upgrade and Heritage Restoration Project.

The Masonry Institute of BC held a gala awards event at the Robert H. Lee Alumni Centre at the University of British Columbia on October 1st where Capital Projects Manager, Mark Thomson, accepted the Award on behalf of the school district.

QM Masonry Institute Award

The Queen Mary seismic upgrade and full heritage restoration project was completed in 2013 with their official re-opening event on April 11, 2014. In addition to the Award of Excellence by the Masonry Institute of BC, Queen Mary has also received the Heritage Project Achievement Award by the City of North Vancouver Heritage Advisory Commission and the BC Heritage Conservation Outstanding Achievement award.


Catherine Schechter named 2015/16 BCATA Primary Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Visual Arts

Congratulations to Catherine Schechter, this year’s recipient of the British Columbia Art Teachers’ Association (BCATA) Primary Award for Excellence in the teaching of Visual Arts.

Catherine teaches grade 3 at Lynn Valley Elementary and also teaches in the Artists for Kids after-school and enrichment programs. Catherine skillfully and expertly cultivates the creativity in every young artist and her students have benefitted from her outstanding teaching over the years.

Having Catherine recognized by her colleagues as an outstanding teacher of the arts is a tremendous honour for our school district. In the letter announcing the award, BCATA co-presidents Laurie Kidd and Melanie Stokes note: “You are viewed by your colleagues as one of the most inspirational teachers they have had the pleasure of working with.” And, “You are a wealth of knowledge and are a seemingly endless well of ideas for inspirational art projects.”

The BCATA professional development conference took place on October 23rd and 24th, featuring events at Carson Graham Secondary School, the Artists for Kids Studios, and the Gordon Smith Gallery of Canadian Art. Catherine was celebrated at the awards ceremony held at the View and her award was presented by Val Batyi (on the left), recipient of the BCATA 1997 BCATA Primary Award for Excellence.


Happy Hallowe’en – ICBC Pedestrian Safety Campaign

With Halloween, the changing weather, and less daylight hours, ICBC has launched their annual pedestrian safety campaign to bring awareness to the spike in pedestrian accidents that typically occur during the Fall and Winter seasons.


According to ICBC, 75% of crashes involving pedestrians happen at intersections. Distraction and failure to yield the right of way are the leading causes of driver accidents with pedestrians. ICBC recommends drivers should slow down and pedestrians should watch for drivers turning through crosswalks.

This is a reminder to please be extra vigilant, especially in our school zones and also during the evening hours. And have a Happy (and safe) Halloween!

jack o lantern


Welcome to Deakin University Pre-Service Teachers

A big welcome to the 21 students from Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia who began their teacher training in our schools this week as part of their 3-week Global Experience teaching practicum. Teachers at Brooksbank, Lynnmour, Queen Mary, Ridgeway, and Westview schools are sharing their knowledge and expertise, providing an opportunity for their Australian colleagues to gain a deeper understanding of teaching practices in Canada.

Deakin University groupBeginning in 2011 with only 4 students, the program has gained popularity among Deakin University students; this year they received over 40 applications for the opportunity to learn alongside NVSD teachers. We credit much of the success of this partnership to Carson Graham Family of Schools Leader, Shannon Sharp, and the exceptional leadership provided each year by the participating teacher-mentors in our schools.

We are delighted to experience the growth in this reciprocal partnership with Deakin University; a University that features global education opportunities and programs dedicated to environmental sustainability. Through our own teachers hosting these Pre-Service teachers in our schools we benefit greatly from their involvement, support and contribution to our classrooms and our students and every participant experiences new cultural and educational knowledge and perspectives. An additional component of our shared relationship and partnership is the exchange of professional learning opportunities with professors and instructors from Deakin University working with our teachers.

We look forward to exceptional learning opportunities in the weeks ahead!


School Library Day – October 26

October 26 is officially School Library Day in BC. I n celebration, the British Columbia Teacher-Librarians Association is hosting the 9th anniversary of the Drop Everything and Read (DEAR) challenge.

The simple, but powerful idea of DEAR is to promote the importance of literacy by having as many students and adults as possible read at the same time on the same day.

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I encourage all staff and students to join in and put down their work, turn off their computer screens, pick up a book, magazine or newspaper and read for 20 minutes.

For more information, please refer to the News Release or visit the website

Election Day – Student Vote

Today is the day for our Federal Election and thousands of our students will be participating in STUDENT VOTE.   This parallel election for students under the voting age, coincides with the federal election to provide young Canadians with an opportunity to experience the voting process firsthand and build the habits of informed and engaged citizenship.  

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Since 2003, 26 Student Vote programs have been conducted across Canada. In the last federal election, 563,000 students cast ballots from 3,750 schools.

The North Vancouver School District has one of the highest participation rates in the Student Vote program!

How Does it Work?

The program is open to all schools and there is no cost to participate.

Registered schools are supplied with instructional materials, posters and election supplies.

The activities are intended to inform students about government and the electoral process, encourage research into the parties, candidates and issues, and foster dialogue among students and their families.

Student Vote Day: Students take on the role of deputy returning officers and polls clerks, and cast ballots for the official election candidates. The results are tabulated nationally and by riding, and shared with media for broadcast and publication.

We are delighted to have active involvement of our students in the democratic process – Get out and VOTE!

Great BC ShakeOut – October 15, 2015

Today is the Great British Columbia ShakeOut (! At 10:15am students and staff will be asked to drop, cover, and hold on as part of BC’s biggest earthquake drill. Performing emergency drills and reviewing school emergency plans are important and necessary steps in becoming as prepared as possible for an emergency situation.

This is also a good opportunity to talk about being prepared for an emergency at home. The North Shore Emergency Management Office encourages everyone to create a family emergency plan and stock and maintain a basic home emergency kit. Supply lists for a basic home emergency kit can be found at


Thanks to everyone for their participation in this year’s Great BC ShakeOut!

Smith Foundation generously supports Artists for Kids program

The Gordon and Marion Smith Foundation for Young Artists, founded in 2002, has been dedicated to supporting the work of the North Vancouver School District’s Artists for Kids Program.  As the Smith Foundation has grown and developed strong connections in the arts community, its contribution to Artists for Kids has also grown.

FullSizeRenderTo date, the Smith Foundation has directly contributed over $800,000 to Artists for Kids. Continuing the Foundation’s support of the Artists for Kids Program and art education, Mauro Vescera, Chair of the Smith Foundation, and Astrid Heyerdahl, Executive Director of the Smith Foundation, presented to Board Chair Cyndi Gerlach and Yolande Martinello, Director of Artists for Kids, a cheque in the amount of $55,000.

On behalf of Artists for Kids, I express sincere gratitude to the Gordon and Marion Smith Foundation for their generous support. We are fortunate to have so many of our students participating in Artists for Kids programs, with more than 4,000 students benefiting from these programs each year.

This fall marks the 25th anniversary of Artists for Kids and I was pleased to attend the book launch on Thursday, October 1stAFK 25 – 25 Years in Personal Stories, a collection of AFK stories, photographs, and memories. The Gallery is currently featuring a new exhibition from the AFK Teaching Collection At What Cost? – which explores how the environment has inspired Canadian art over the past century.