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 https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2015EDUC0065-001657 or visit the website http://bctf.ca/bctla/info/advocacy.html.

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 (http://shakeoutbc.ca/)! 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 http://nsemo.org/.


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.

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:

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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.

Notes from the desk of John Lewis, Superintendent of Schools

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