All posts by John Lewis

Getting greener: organic waste disposal and schools

As you likely know, the Metro-Vancouver-wide effort to keep food scraps out of the landfill is now in full gear. All schools are expected to fully comply with Metro Vancouver’s organic waste disposal ban. To do this, we are preparing to roll out new, compartmentalized waste receptacles in all our schools later this spring. “Organics only”, “Waste Only”, “Mixed Recyclables” and “Paper” will each receive a designated bin to simplify sorting.

Located in hallways and high traffic areas, the receptacles will allow for staff, students and even visitors to send waste in the right direction.

From apple cores to pizza boxes, by keeping organic waste out of the landfill, Metro Vancouver expects to achieve an overall 70% recycling rate in 2015, and up to 80% by the year 2020. By diverting organics from the landfill, methane, a potent greenhouse gas, will be reduced in the atmosphere (deprived of adequate oxygen to promote the decay process, food waste rotting in landfills produces methane). Even better is the boost to agriculture that will come from this new source of compost.

Educational materials are being developed to help everyone understand the importance and necessity of this initiative and staff will be advised as soon as they are available. We do recognize that this represents a change in habits and behaviours, but we hope that with everyone’s support, the transition happening all over the Lower Mainland will be straightforward in our schools. As noted above, the Metro Vancouver ban makes it mandatory to keep organics waste out of the landfill, and we want to avoid any possible penalties that could be imposed down the road for non-compliance.

Thank you for your support!


For more information, please visit


Bullying Awareness Day – February 25, 2015

The Province of British Columbia has proclaimed today as Bullying Awareness Day and many schools have shown their support with various Pink Shirt activities.


The Erase Bullying website is an excellent resource for students, parents, and educators to understand the motivation behind bullying and the serious effects on its victims. We all have a responsibility to ensure our school community is a positive and safe place to learn by fostering respect and understanding and encouraging victims to report bullying. I encourage anyone who is being bullied or has witnessed bullying to use the online reporting tool on


North Shore Restorative Justice is holding its 18th Annual General Meeting at Mountainside Secondary tonight at 6:00pm. They will be showing The Reena Virk Story, a story to promote dialogue, healthy relationships, and teach empathy and communication skills with the intention of building strong classroom communities.

This invitation is extended to all NSRJ members and volunteers as well as youth, youth supporters, teachers, school staff members and all interested community members. Please RSVP to


In Memory of Diana Katherine Billy 1957-2015

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Diana Billy, Swanamia, on Monday, February 16, 2015 at Lions Gate Hospital.  Diana spent much of the last three decades working at the Bighouse in the Skw’une-was Program primarily as the Food Gathering Elder and leader of songs.  Her quiet but firm voice during school programs will be remembered for the strength and integrity that she shared when she was teaching cultural knowledge, and her passion for bringing everyone she met to a place of understanding of the long standing traditions of her Skwxwú7mesh and Lil’wat heritage.

Over the decades, Swanamia worked with learners of all ages; students and adults in the Skw’une-was Program at Cheakamus Centre, teenagers in the Sea to Sky School District, as well as adult workshops.  She participated in a variety of events along the Sea to Sky corridor and presented at the First Nations Education Steering Committee Conference in 2014 (FNESC).  She will be remembered for her organization and promotion of the Remembrance Day services at Totem Hall in Squamish each year.

Swanamia was a fierce protector and advocate for her children, grandchildren, culture, and heritage.  She was intensely proud of her children and grandchildren, their accomplishments, and the possibilities that their lives could have.  As a strong warrior woman with a ready smile and wonderful laugh, she was generous and gifted in cedar bark work, weaving, and plant knowledge.  Swanamia’s amazing knowledge of medicinal and food plants was passed to her by her mother Anna Billy, and her Elders and mentors of the Skwxwú7mesh and Lil’wat Nations.

On behalf of the Board of Education, our students, and staff, I would like to extend my very sincere condolences to Swanamia’s children, grandchildren, father Richard, sisters and brothers, and extended family members.

Swanamia will be greatly missed by all who met her.  Her legacy is her vast knowledge and kindness to the many lives that she touched.  Her presence will endure at the Bighouse at Cheakamus Centre, providing inspiration and warmth to those who visit.

John Lewis
Superintendent of Schools


With thanks to Kathleen Keogh for sharing her thoughts and memories of Swanamia.

Beyond the Hurt Youth Training

On January 21st, Carson Graham teacher Shauna Glover and her Community and Initiatives 10 class transformed one of our most popular meeting spaces at the Education Services Centre into their classroom for the day. The view from the patio outside the Ocean View Room was not enough to distract these students from their Beyond the Hurt Youth Training, a bullying prevention program facilitated by prevention educators through the Canadian Red Cross.




Through this training, students become prepared to be youth facilitators in discussions about bullying and harassment. Shauna’s class will soon be delivering workshops to grade 8 students at Carson Graham and grade 6 students from their feeder schools. By working proactively with peers, these students are thrilled to take on an influential role in positively shaping their own school community.

VCC Culinary Arts Program at Carson Graham Information Evening

Post provided by Monty Bell, Director of Instruction:

On Thursday, February 5th over 70 North Shore parents and students attended the VCC Culinary Arts Program information evening at Carson Graham Secondary. Hosted by the school principal, Karim Hachlaf, and presented by Red Seal chef Scarlet Gaffney the participants learned how this dual credit program opens the culinary world to high school students.

Once completed students earn 28 credits towards graduation and their Professional Chef Level 1 from Vancouver Community College. Students learn all the foundational skills including food preparation, food management and of course, how to create amazing sauces, baked goods and full course meals. The students also have the opportunity to work within a professional grade kitchen right in the heart of the school. Comments from participants included: “It has always been my dream to be a chef, now it can happen” (Handsworth student) and “I have worked in a kitchen for two years and I know this is what I want to do” (Seycove student). At the conclusion of the presentation, students and parents were taken on a tour of the kitchen and met this year’s VCC/North Shore High School student cohort group. The pictures below show the training chefs preparing some treats for the attendees. From pulled pork sliders to risotto crostini the aspiring chefs to be were able to see what is possible and taste what could be a very appetizing future.




Social Media Awareness

I would like to extend a sincere thanks to Constable Carlos Rockhill, the RCMP Youth Intervention Unit, and North Vancouver RCMP Superintendent Kennedy, for hosting the Social Media Awareness presentation: Parenting the Connected Kid – Going Beyond Safety on Wednesday, January 28th.

Centennial Theatre was fully booked for this event, which was open to students, parents, community members and educators. In addition to Jesse Miller as the keynote speaker, Angus Reid, guest speaker, and formerly with the BC Lions, spoke to the importance of open communication within the family and the need to build ‘team’ starting within our families.

Social Media

Many in the audience were familiar with keynote speaker, Jesse Miller, from previous presentations at many schools’ PAC events as well as presentations to students at school assemblies. Jesse’s message stressed the importance for parents to gain a deeper understanding of their child’s (and their own) participation and engagement in social media and to work towards a balance between the pervasive use of technology with the continued need for strong personal contact and interaction. Jesse’s message drew parallels to Angus Reid’s comments, reinforcing the importance of developing ongoing communications within our families and for positive social interactions with friends, peers, and colleagues.

We are most fortunate to benefit from Jesse’s knowledge, experience and generosity to work with our students, schools and community.  This was a very enjoyable and informative meeting for everyone in attendance!

Designs 2015

Feedback from the January 9th Curriculum Implementation Day has been very positive. North Vancouver School District educators appreciated the opportunity to learn about the proposed revisions to the provincial curriculum and assessment frameworks.

Building on the theme: Transforming the Curriculum, the District Coast Metro/Designs Team is presenting Re-Designs 2015, a 3-session series that explores BC’s Education Plan in more depth. With a focus on the new framework for BC’s transformed curriculum, including the three Core Competencies (Thinking, Communication, and Personal/Social Responsibility), K-12 teachers will come away with practical tools and strategies for implementing and assessing the core competencies in their classroom.

Re-Designs began January 27th.


Digital Media Academy Events

I am pleased to highlight two recent events sponsored by our Digital Media Academy (DMA). Post provided by DMA teachers Ryanne Bergler and Murray Bulger:

Information Night:

The Digital Media Academy Information Night was held at Argyle Secondary School on Thursday, January 29, 2015.  This was an evening for parents and students interested in finding out more details about the Digital Media Academy (DMA) and the DMA Lite course at Argyle. The Digital Media Academy is an Enhanced Program available to Grades 11 and 12 students in the North Vancouver School District and the DMA Lite course is available to students in Grades 9 and 10. Guests were able to hear first-hand from currently enrolled students about their experiences at the DMA as well as hear from the DMA teaching staff. Current DMA students working on various media projects were available to showcase their work. This evening provided parents & students the information they needed to make further decisions about these fantastic programs! More details about the Digital Media Academy and the DMA Lite course are available on the district website under Academies or on the Digital Media Academy website at


Youth Expo:

The 3rd annual Digital Media Youth Expo was held on January 31, 2015.  The DMA hosted this event and attendance far exceeded expectations with over 1000 students and their families attending! The EXPO was for anyone interested in learning more about digital media, photography, film, sound, animation and the many educational and employment opportunities in the digital media industry.  There were 8 post-secondary schools on hand to showcase opportunities as well as industry professionals with interactive booths and displays and demonstrations – there was even a 12 foot camera crane in the cafeteria that students were able to operate!  The booths at the Digital Media Youth Expo were where parents, students, and teachers were able to meet representatives from Lower Mainland post-secondary schools as well as local organizations involved with the DMA and industry. This was a free event and an exciting opportunity for those wanting to delve into the world of digital media and explore options for careers in this field.  Make sure to attend the Digital Media Youth Expo next year!

For more information on the DMA and DMA Lite course as well as the events within the Digital Media Academy, please visit the DMA website at

Kid Oculus Close 


Changing Results for Young Readers

The first two Family of Schools teams are about to complete this year’s inservice: Changing Results for Young Readers. Over four morning sessions, primary teachers, learning assistance teachers, teacher librarians, literacy support staff, and administrators are enhancing their understanding of effective literacy instruction with the focus on improving reading results for struggling K-3 readers.

Feedback from participants has been very positive and I’d like to thank Joanne Robertson, Learning Services and the CR4YR Team for making these sessions possible.  For more information about this inservice, please visit:

Changing Results
Ilona Wardas (Blueridge teacher) presents CR4YR strategies to her colleagues


Family Literacy Week

I was delighted to be invited as a guest reader by Teacher-Librarian Ieke Giese of Upper Lynn on January 27th as part of Family Literacy Week.  Three Primary classes were able to join together in the library as part of the kick-off to this special week.


Every year I look forward to the opportunity to read to students. This year’s reading selections were How to Teach a Slug to Read, by Susan Pearson and The Snatchabook, by Helen Docherty and Thomas Docherty.  Both of these selections were fun to read to the children. Both stories highlighted the importance of learning to read and to share the joy of reading with others.  My girls are quite grown up now, so I don’t get the chance to read children’s literature as much as I did in the past!




The Family Literacy Week initiative highlights the importance of reading and literacy skill development. North Vancouver School District educators are currently taking part in Changing Results for Young Readers (CR4YR), a provincial initiative to encourage reading amongst primary aged students. I will be posting an update soon on our CR4YR inservice sessions.