All posts by John Lewis

Aboriginal Success Story

Brad Baker was recently featured in the North Shore News:

In this article, Brad speaks about his experiences as our District’s first Aboriginal teacher, working with Aboriginal youth, and the way Aboriginal culture is being honoured today.  Brad also speaks candidly about his family and how they have had an impact on his career choices and aspirations.

In November, Brad was awarded the Indigenous Educator Award in Leadership in Toronto:

Furthering Brad’s work in promoting success with our First Nations students, the Aboriginal Education Team will be showcasing students of Aboriginal ancestry in our District in an initiative of the North Vancouver School District in conjunction with the BC Ministry of Education Aboriginal Education. I thank Brad and the Aboriginal Education Team for providing these experiences and opportunities for our First Nation students.


Farm to School BC Start-up Grants

I am pleased to announce Farm to School BC has funding available for schools interested in starting a new Farm to School program. Grants up to $4000 will be awarded to successful applicants to plan and implement a new program that brings healthy local produce into schools. Farm to School programs provide students with hands-on learning experiences and promotes healthy eating habits. Farm to School also connects schools with their communities and local farmers.

Schools may contact Helen Yeung, VCH North Shore Public Health Dietitian, for information and/or assistance with their grant application (

Grant applications are due December 19th and results will be announced January 16th.

Please visit the Farm to School BC website for more information:



Severe Weather Information 2014/15

Announcements of District-wide Closures and/or Delayed Openings of Schools

With the recent snowfall, we want to remind parents/guardians, students, and staff of the North Vancouver School District’s winter weather procedures and announcements. 

All schools in the North Vancouver School District will remain OPEN, if at all possible during winter weather, including snowfalls.  Any district-wide closure will be decided by 6:30 a.m. at the latest and will be announced through the media.  If weather conditions are questionable, announcements will also be made to say that schools are open.

Information about any district-wide closures will be sent to Metro Vancouver radio and television stations.  Please check the following stations for school closure information:

CBC AM 690 radio                     Global TV                    

CHMJ AM 730 radio                  CBC TV

CHQM FM 103.5 radio               City TV

CKNW AM 980 radio                  BC-CTV

CJVB Fairchild AM 1470 radio    Fairchild TV

CKWX News AM 1130 radio      

CFOX 99.3 radio                      

Announcements of school closures or delayed openings will be posted on the School District’s website at  The North Vancouver School District will use the SchoolConnects system to contact parents/guardians in the event of an Emergency Release of students during the school day.  Individual school closures due to unique circumstances (e.g., power outages) will be announced as early as possible through SchoolConnects.

Student safety is our first priority and a shared responsibility.  Parents/guardians are responsible for their child’s safe travel to school.  If for any reason, a parent/guardian feels that a child cannot travel safely to school, then they should make other arrangements for their child.  Students will not be penalized for absences due to weather conditions.  The decision to attend school is the responsibility of each family.

Parents/guardians are encouraged to establish an emergency plan for their children in the event that schools are closed, the school’s start time is delayed, or students are dismissed early.  This is a reminder that all students need to dress warmly and appropriately for winter weather conditions.

At this time, we encourage you to review your own preparations for winter weather and ensure that you are familiar with your municipality’s snow and ice response procedures. We request that you strictly adhere to parking restrictions in and around all North Vancouver schools.  Your child’s school will contact you about any changes to driving routes that may be put into effect on streets adjacent to the school. 

With your cooperation and adherence to winter weather procedures, we can help achieve safe conditions for students travelling to and from school.  Please put safety first.

John Lewis

Superintendent of Schools

North Vancouver School District (No. 44)


Metro Vancouver Weather Forecast – Environment Canada

City of North Vancouver – Snow and Ice Removal

District of North Vancouver – Snow and Ice Removal

North Shore Emergency Management Office

StrongStart success in North Vancouver

StrongStart is a place where qualified early childhood educators connect with our youngest learners and help them to prepare for Kindergarten. The program is play-based and involves preschool-aged children and their parent/caregiver. Our StrongStart facilitators nurture a sense of belonging and create exciting Invitations to Learning in a classroom setting. Located in 7 of our elementary schools, the goal of the StrongStart program is to build confidence and encourage friendships. Meanwhile parents and caregivers will learn how they can help support their child’s learning, language development, skills, knowledge, and attitudes for success in school.

We have received positive feedback about our StrongStart Facilitators from parents who attend. These talented educators are a valuable addition to our teaching team and we appreciate their expertise and leadership.

Learn more about StrongStart in the North Vancouver School District:


National Education Leadership Award

I was deeply honoured to attend the National Gathering for Indigenous education last week in Toronto, Ontario.  The Guiding the Journey conference featured innovative practices in Indigenous Education and the Guiding the Journey Educator Awards.  Brad Baker, our District Administrator for Aboriginal Education along with Stephanie Maki, Carson Graham teacher, presented the North Vancouver School District story, highlighting the tremendous progress achieved within our schools and community in supporting First Nations Education for all students.  A most appreciative audience of more than 100 educators from across Canada were greatly impressed by the progress achieved in our School District and the leadership being provided in First Nations Education.


In recognition of his dedication and leadership in First Nations Education within the North Vancouver School District and Canada, Brad Baker received a National Indigenous Educator Award for Leadership.  I can justifiably say how proud we are as a school district for Brad’s dedicated commitment and contribution to our students’ continued progress and to our own learning and understanding.


Hoy Chewx a!

Thank you!

Queen Mary receives 2014 BC Heritage Conservation Outstanding Achievement Award

 Queen Mary front

We are proud to recognize the heritage restoration and reconstruction of Queen Mary School which won the 2014 BC Heritage Conservation Outstanding Achievement award.

Board Chair Franci Stratton, Acting Mayor Linda Buchanan, and DA Architects + Planners were presented with the award at a gala ceremony on September 26th.

I would like to thank Capital Projects Manager Mark Thomson for his expertise in overseeing this project and Principal Bill Reid for his support to the students and staff during the construction.

Queen Mary School is one of the most prominent buildings on the North Shore, serving students in the public school system for 100 years.


From Heritage BC:

A study determining the seismic risk of schools indicated that Queen Mary was among the higher risk buildings in the Province. A plan for the school’s renewal was necessary. The Ministry of Education committed core funding to the project, and through an innovative repurposing of surplus land assets, the School District was able to fund the additional heritage restoration costs. The heritage restoration and reconstruction of Queen Mary began in mid-2011 and was completed in early 2014. The strategy for the restoration involved seismically upgrading and modernizing the school while maintaining and restoring the heritage exterior.

Read more:


Harvard Scholar Visits North Vancouver

On Monday November 3rd 2014 Dr. Ron Ritchhart, a Senior Research Associate at Harvard University’s Project Zero, spoke to an audience of over 100 North Vancouver School District leaders.  In attendance were School and District Administrators, NVTA Executive members, Family of Schools Leaders and Teacher Leaders, Secondary Department Heads, and other teacher leaders from across the School District.

Ron’s engaging talk focused on teaching for deep understanding, the development of intellectual character, and the important role that educational leaders play in the development of school and classroom cultures that make students’ thinking valued, visible, and actively promoted in classrooms.

Ron’s research and writings, particularly his framework for understanding group culture, have informed the work of schools throughout the world. His latest book, Making Thinking Visible written with Mark Church and Karin Morrison, takes readers inside a diverse range of learning environments to show how thinking can be made visible at any level and across all subject areas through the use of effective questioning, listening, documentation, and facilitative structures called thinking routines.

Making Thinking Visible

Our School District leaders were very appreciative of the opportunity to hear Ron speak in North Vancouver.  Ron is a keynote speaker for the 2014-2015 Lower Mainland Coast Metro workshop series, which began on November 4th and continues until April 2015. A team of 16 North Vancouver School District teacher leaders will participate in the Coast Metro series and apply Ron’s research to the development of our January 9th Curriculum Implementation Day and the Designs 2015 workshop series.

We believe that Ron’s work with schools and school systems across the world aligns well with the transformation of BC’s curriculum and will support our educators in prioritizing the processes of thinking and learning in classrooms.  Specifically, Ron’s emphasis on thinking and the practical classroom strategies, resources, and assessment tools he provides will greatly enhance our implementation of the new Core Thinking Competency.

Emergency Preparedness Activities

Further to my blog post on October 16th I would like to highlight further emergency preparedness activities in our District as we continue to develop our plans for the safety of our students and staff.

North Shore Schools Emergency Planning coordinator Bernadette Woit has been working with our District Occupational Health & Safety committee and school staff to plan and review fire drills and student release procedures. The Great BC Shakeout was a great success and we thank everyone for their participation. Special thanks to Lynn Valley Elementary staff and students for being the host school that day for the CBC broadcast.

Emergency Preparedness drills such as student release and lockdown can be confusing for families new to Canada. Bernadette is working with the Settlement Workers in Schools to provide information to our immigrant families about what students and parents can expect in the case of an emergency.

CUPE workshopCUPE staff attended an Emergency Preparedness Workshop on October 24th where they learned about personal preparedness and student release procedures. The City of North Vancouver Fire Rescue Services were on hand to provide fire extinguisher training and St. John Ambulance staff provided disaster basic first aid training.

I would like to thank Bernadette and our CUPE Pro D committee for organizing the day.

World Kindness Day – November 13, 2014

I am pleased to recognize November 13th as World Kindness Day, introduced by the World Kindness Movement in 1998. The goal of the campaign is to encourage greater kindness amongst all and promote resiliency and connectedness.

Mindful Kindness workshops will be available to schools in our District by Vancouver Coastal Health Public Health Nurses who have also worked with Action Schools! BC to present a session on leadership. Public Health Nurses are happy to work with each school to determine the best strategies to deliver the program.  In these workshops students will learn how acts of kindness create a positive cycle of caring and respect in their school, family and community.

We appreciate Vancouver Coastal Health’s support in ensuring the physical and emotional health and well-being of children and youth in our schools.

Please join me in celebrating World Kindness Day on November 13th!


Remembrance Day School Ceremonies

Remembrance Day

On Friday, November 7th Remembrance Day assemblies were held across our school district to honour those who served and sacrificed for our country during times of war.

Remembrance Day is marked with great solemnity and respect at all of our schools. This year, I attended the ceremony at Argyle Secondary which included music, poetry, and dance. I was impressed with the calibre of the performances and how well the audience respectfully listened during the entire assembly.

As schools are closed for the November 11th holiday, you might consider attending the North Vancouver commemoration ceremonies on Tuesday, November 11 at 10:30 a.m. at the Victoria Park Cenotaph. Following the ceremonies a parade of veterans and other participants will proceed northbound on Lonsdale to 15th, turning on 15th Street to arrive at the Armories on Forbes Avenue. More details about the ceremonies and parade can be found at: