World Mental Health Day – October 10

October 10th is World Mental Health Day and this year’s theme is Dignity in Mental Health.

First recognized in 1992 by the World Federation for Mental Health, October 10th is a day to promote awareness about mental health, and acknowledge those who have been affected by mental illness.

In North Vancouver School District, we appreciate how positive mental health effects one’s learning environment. Engaging all of our learners is a priority for our Board of Education as initiatives focusing on Social Emotional Learning are explored. Great work is being done in schools to teach to a diverse range of needs and I applaud our staff for their commitment to the success of all students.

We will continue to work together to learn how to best support students who struggle with mental health issues.


The World Federation for Mental Health has resource material available to download for this year’s World Mental Health Day.

Seymour Heights’ New Outdoor Classroom

I was pleased to attend the Seymour Heights Outdoor Classroom Grand Opening on Thursday, September 24th.

It is quite the transformation – what used to be an unused courtyard is now a welcoming outdoor learning space filled with greenery, garden boxes and places to sit and gather together. The covered area features a stunning wall mural painted by a Seymour Heights Tsleil-Waututh parent.




Students were active participants in creating their new outdoor classroom, with strong support from parents, staff, and the Tsleil-Waututh Nation. This enriched teaching and learning space is a tremendous enhancement for the school and I applaud Principal Chanin Smyth and the entire Seymour Heights Community for their collaboration and perseverance.


News 1130 also covered the event:

World Teachers’ Day – October 5

I would like to acknowledge that today is World Teachers’ Day – a day devoted to appreciating the educators of the world*.


We are extremely fortunate to have such a dedicated and engaged staff. Our 1,349 teachers (including teachers-teaching-on-call) are vital to the success of our students and our School District.

Teachers, your contributions are to be celebrated! Together with our support and administrative staff, you provide the exceptional educational opportunities for our students, making North Vancouver a truly outstanding natural place to learn.


*In 1994, UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, inaugurated October 5th as an annual day to celebrate the essential role of teachers in providing quality education at all levels.

Orange Shirt Day – September 30, 2015

At the Public Board Meeting of September 15, 2015 the Board passed the recommended motion:

that the Board declare September 30, 2015 as Orange Shirt Day in North Vancouver School District.

September 30th has been declared Orange Shirt Day annually, in recognition of the harm the residential school system did to children’s sense of self-esteem and wellbeing, and as an affirmation of our commitment to ensure that everyone around us matters. The Orange Shirt Day of 2015 will be the third annual event to provide an opportunity to create meaningful discussion about the effects of Residential Schools and the legacy they have left behind. The website, Orange Shirt Day Every Child Matters, cites this date because it is the time of year in which children were taken from their homes to residential schools, and because it is an opportunity to set the stage for anti-racism and anti-bullying policies for the coming school year. September 30th is a day for survivors to be reaffirmed that they matter and so do those that have been affected. Every Child Matters, even if they are an adult, from now on.

Orange shirtsThe North Vancouver School District Aboriginal Education Team, led by Brad Baker, continues to build upon the principles that guide us in the teaching of Aboriginal culture and perspectives in the classroom. We were pleased to welcome Harry Baker, a residential school survivor, and his wife Judy to the Education Services Centre yesterday in honour of Orange Shirt Day.

Recognizing Orange Shirt Day in North Vancouver School District is a positive step for our students and staff in acknowledging that every child matters.



Cops for Cancer

Congratulations to Shauna Glover’s Junior Community Initiatives class for raising $1,100 in support of Constable Rockhill, Carson Graham’s police liaison, who participated in this year’s Cops For Cancer Tour De Coast 2015. Constable Rockhill, joined by an entourage of fellow police and other rescue personnel, made a stop at Carson Graham on September 21st while on Tour to accept the cheque on behalf of BC Cancer Society:

Cops for Cancer 062

Fundraising activities that contributed to the $1,100 donation included a pie-throwing event which was featured in this Splendid! story:

All donations raised for Cops for Cancer go towards supporting Camp Goodtimes, a summer camp for children and teens with cancer.

Welcome to the 2015/16 School Year


Here we go!

As much as we enjoy summer, there’s a definite change in the air when September arrives, schools reopen, and classes resume. It’s a special time of year, and we thank you for your patience over the next few weeks of settling in to routines and readiness for continued learning.

New developments in education

In collaboration with our teachers and partner groups, the educational system of British Columbia continues to evolve to help ensure that our students are well prepared for their futures.  As you may be aware, the Ministry of Education recently announced the introduction of BC’s new curriculum for Kindergarten through Grade 9 students with an emphasis on the core competencies of collaboration, critical thinking and communications. The new curriculum connects the teaching of core subjects, including reading, writing, and mathematics, with flexibility, hands-on, and personalized learning skills.

This school year marks the beginning of a three-year transition to the new curriculum, which will also include the inclusion of Aboriginal perspectives, renewed emphasis on environmental sciences, the history and legacy of residential schools, and broader attention to the immigrant experience of East and South Asian immigrants.   The change process that has been underway for the past few years builds upon the tremendous strengths of a world-class educational system established and supported by outstanding instructional leaders and educators.  The entire K-12 curriculum will be phased in by the end of the 2017/18 school year.

We have a strong foundation for supporting the new curriculum across our School District. It features many similarities to the International Baccalaureate programme, and its emphasis on integrated life skills will not be unfamiliar to the current practice of many of our teachers. More information about the BC Education Plan is available at and through this message from the Minister of Education

Our leadership to integrate Aboriginal Education into the curriculum has been recognized both provincially and nationally. We continue to break ground in this area and the expertise of our Aboriginal Education team has been called upon to develop this important aspect of the curriculum for present and future students. We will continue to communicate on this important development in education, as we teach to improve historical perspectives, respect, and positive relations with all of Canada’s indigenous people.

Supporting student success

The new curriculum presents new opportunities to support diverse learning styles and success for all students. It represents a bridge to relevancy for every student that engages their interests, recognizes their ability levels, and supports them in their accomplishments. Our efforts to create welcoming, inclusive learning environments for all students are strengthened through this approach that helps to encourage a higher capacity for learning in every student.

The myriad of ways parents help to support children from Kindergarten through Grade 12 is fundamental to their success in school. Whether you have questions about changes to the curriculum, how to help with homework, or what you might do to help strengthen your school and community, we encourage you to reach out to the teachers and administrators who will be working directly with your child/children this year.

We hope you are looking forward to the year ahead as much as we are,


Cyndi Gerlach


Board of Education

John Lewis

Superintendent of Schools

P.S. Students who walk or bike to and from school, even part of the way, benefit from regular exercise and begin each day more alert and ready to learn. Please help us to reduce traffic around schools by leaving the car at home. If that’s not possible, parking within walking distance helps to reduce school zone traffic congestion, safety risks, and environmental pollution while promoting a healthy, active start to the day.

Grad activities and the new school year

In advance of welcoming everyone back to school on Tuesday, I have an important safety advisory for parents of students entering their senior years in our schools.

The Labour Day weekend has typically been a time when some youth, particularly those in their grad year, participate in unauthorized social gatherings that may be disruptive to neighborhoods and harmful to the young people involved. Vandalism by youth and other risk-taking behaviours are some of the challenges that some of our neighborhoods may be faced with at this time of year. Underage drinking is of particular concern as alcohol is a drug which can negatively impact thoughts, moods and judgments. With young people in particular, it can create a sense of immunity or invincibility that is the prelude to a host of risk-taking behaviours.

These types of social activities are not sanctioned by schools, and we want to support law enforcement in their work to keep our communities safe. With this in mind, we are joining, as we do every year, the RCMP, local fire departments, the District of North Vancouver and the City of North Vancouver in sharing this advisory.

The RCMP has expressed a zero tolerance and straight enforcement of all laws and regulations pertaining to social gatherings over the Labour Day weekend. Penalties for youth who violate laws will include, but not necessarily be limited to, being directly ticketed with fines. For more information, please read the RCMP’s information bulletin.

In closing, as we look forward to a positive beginning to the school year for all students, I hope this message will facilitate family conversations about youth social responsibility and safe celebrations.


John Lewis
Superintendent of Schools

Saying farewell for the summer with a few highlights from 2014/15

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June 30, 2015

Dear students, staff, parents and guardians,

Saying farewell for the summer with a few highlights from 2014/15

Just before we say farewell for the next two months, we are pleased and proud to share with you some of the progress and highlights from the 2014/15 school year.

Curriculum expansion has been particularly evident in the areas of environmental and outdoor education, new hands-on training courses to provide secondary students a head-start on career and employment opportunities, wider selection of Distributed Learning course offerings, expansion of the Basketball Academy and the introduction of the Field Hockey at Sutherland.

Queen Mary Community School has now received official authorization to offer the IB Primary Years Programme. This is a very exciting achievement for the whole school community, and arrived in time to coincide with the school’s centennial year.

The Board remains committed to realizing a full replacement school for Argyle Secondary. Progress has been made towards securing the funding needed to expand the project from a seismic upgrade to a completely new and modern school. Further developments on this priority capital project are expected in the fall.

Striving for a more sustainable school district resulted in a number of new energy-saving activities this year. We thank everyone for their additional efforts to keep organics out of the waste stream. This has represented a significant change to the way we manage our operations and we appreciate the leadership of our students and staff in making this change our new reality.

Over the past 10 months, students and staff led awe-inspiring and inclusive school events and community service that included: fundraising for earthquake relief in Nepal; peer mentoring; caring clubs; clothing swaps; Bike to School Week; Remembrance Day ceremonies; community gardens; acts of social justice; buddy bench building; upcycling; recycling; and environmental sustainability. In May, the student-led “Club G” received a National Inclusive Education Award to recognize the spirit of cooperation and compassion that the Club has inspired at Highlands Elementary.

Enhancing our schools as places of belonging continues as staff and students inspire and learn from each other how to create inclusive learning environments for all. A committee is reviewing the School District’s Policy 412: Homophobia for potential improvements and, for the first time, the “Rainbow Flag” will fly outside the Education Services Centre during this summer’s Pride Week in Vancouver.

The delayed start to the school year was a challenge we all shared. We would like to thank staff for their commitment to delivering the curriculum in a shortened timeframe, parents for their understanding of the circumstances, and students for their flexibility and patience during those uncertain weeks last fall. It was impressive to witness everyone come together and achieve so much in a shortened year. We thank you all and we are appreciative of the workplace stability that is now in place as a result. Further to this, through careful fiscal management, we have been able to present a balanced budget for the coming year and maintain a rich diversity of enhanced program offerings without teacher layoffs or reductions in supports to students.

Lastly, we extend best wishes and congratulations to our graduating students of 2015. We wish you much success as you further your studies, launch careers and make the most the education you have received. Your teachers are proud of you, we are proud of you, and we know that you’re ready for the road ahead.

Have an excellent summer, everyone!

Cyndi Gerlach

John Lewis

Sutherland Schoolyard Market Garden

I was pleased to attend the Grand Opening of the Sutherland Schoolyard Market Garden on Friday, June 12th.

This was a great day to celebrate and acknowledge the tremendous work by volunteers, event organizers, the Edible Garden Project, community partners, and staff and students at Sutherland Secondary School. The warm weather we’ve enjoyed since March gave the garden an early start, and guests were impressed by the abundance of fruit and vegetables ready for harvest.

Through a successful Crowdfunding campaign, the Edible Garden Project raised the funds to create the extensive gardens on the Sutherland School grounds and a team of volunteers has transformed the grounds into a spectacular urban farm. I am told that over 100 raised garden beds are producing over 50lbs of produce for sale each week.

The creation of the Sutherland Schoolyard Market Garden in partnership with Edible Garden Project is a proud moment for our school district and I would like to recognize teachers Cynthia Bunbury and Wendy Matsubuchi for their leadership and in support of this project. We anticipate this will be a great learning garden for students and the community.

Photos of the building of the Sutherland Schoolyard Market Garden can be found at:

Photos from the grand opening event courtesy of Wendy Matsubuchi can be found at:






Sutherland Family of Schools Celebration of Belonging

Congratulations to the Sutherland Family of Schools for their unique and inspirational Celebration of Belonging that took place on June 15th.

The festivities began with a Blessing by Sutherland graduate Adina Williams, welcome to Traditional Territories, and drumming presentation by North Vancouver students.

Afterwards, over 2300 students and staff from Brooksbank, Eastview, Queensbury, and Ridgeway and Sutherland Secondary schools gathered on the field to form the living art replica of the sabre-tooth tiger artwork, created by Squamish artist Rick Harry. Each body became a dot of colour in this symbol of balance of mind, body, and spirit:

Photographed from 80' feet above
Photographed from 80′ feet above

I would like to recognize the efforts of the staff and students from the Sutherland Family of Schools, and particularly Arlene Martin and Brad Baker for their organization of this great accomplishment.

Notes from the desk of John Lewis, Superintendent of Schools