North Vancouver School District #44

Notes from the desk of John Lewis, Superintendent of Schools

North Vancouver School District #44

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:

NS Restorative Justice presents Speak Out event – November 13, 2014

North Shore Restorative Justice Society is hosting another Speak Out event! The Speak Out event will be on November 13th from 6 pm – 9 pm @ Mountainside Secondary, North Vancouver. Through group activities and dialogue, participants will be exploring “Power” – What are forms of power (positive and negative)?, How do these forms of power impact us and our community?, How does it relate to the youth community and the issue of bullying?, etc.

This FREE event is open to ALL Youth and Youth Supporters. Youth who participate in the event will receive 3 hours of community service credit. Refreshments will be provided.

We look forward to an amazing event that facilitates understanding, empowerment, inclusion, and respect! Any questions can be directed to or


Growing Absolutely Fantastic Teens

The North Vancouver School District, in partnership with the Ministry of Children and Family Development, Vancouver Coastal Health, City and District of North Vancouver, and RCMP, hosted a presentation called “Growing Absolutely Fantastic Teens” featuring Dr. Elizabeth Saewyc on October 28th at Centennial Theatre.

The event included a presentation, Question & Answer session, and an InfoFair where youth and parents could connect with service providers on the North Shore. I would like to thank Brad Baker, District Administrator, Safe & Caring Schools for his role in planning this multi-agency supported event. I would also like to thank our community partners – this was a great step in our community working together to help understand the issues of mental health and how we as a community can help our youth grow to be fantastic teens.

Growing Absolutely Fantastic Teens drew a crowd of over 400 which included community members, parents, youth, and staff.


Thank you for your support!

Halloween RCMP Advisory

Thank you to Cpl. Paulo Arreaga of the RCMP Youth Intervention Unit and Brad Baker, District Administrator, Safe & Caring Schools, for the following important advisory:

With Halloween quickly approaching, the North Vancouver RCMP Youth Intervention Unit would like to remind students of the regulations surrounding the purchase, possession and use of fireworks and firecrackers:

In both the City and District of North Vancouver the possession or discharge of firecrackers is prohibited. Firecrackers are defined as those fireworks manufactured to produce just sound and not light.

The City of North Vancouver prohibits the purchase, possession or discharge of any fireworks.

To purchase, possess or discharge fireworks in the District of North Vancouver you must obtain a permit from the District and you must be at least 18 years old. Permits are available from fireworks vendors on the North Shore or from the Fire Department.

It is an offence to sell or give fireworks to any person without a business licence.

Fireworks may not be discharged on public land and District Fireworks permits are not valid in the City of North Vancouver or in the District of West Vancouver.

The Fire Department and the RCMP have the authority to seize fireworks and to fine for violations. Fines range from $200 to $500.

Fireworks should only be discharged on October 31, and between 6:00 p.m. and midnight.

In addition, students planning to wear costumes in public should consider the following:

The carrying of any sort of imitation weapon as part of a costume, such as toy guns or swords, is not recommended. The public may react with concern and the police will investigate and respond appropriately.

So have fun and stay safe this fireworks season!

North Vancouver RCMP Youth Intervention Unit


Teacher-Librarian Jennifer Tieche receives Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence

_r1_9616October 15, 2014

It’s with great pride that I share the news that Jennifer Tieche, Carson Graham Secondary’s teacher-librarian, received a 2014 Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence in Ottawa on October 7, 2014. Jennifer received an Award of Teaching Excellence—the highest honour bestowed by the Prime Minister’s office to elementary and secondary educators.

“We are fortunate to have many exceptional teachers and subject experts at Carson Graham,” says Carson Graham principal Karim Hachlaf. “Jennifer is a mentor to others, a supportive communicator to parents and a deft and nimble educator. She exemplifies what it means to be an agent for positive change in the school.”

An award of this kind brings national recognition to the calibre of teaching in the North Vancouver School District. Many of Jennifer’s colleagues and students, both past and present, recommended her for this special honour including Carson Graham graduate Melanie Matining: “Now, as a curriculum developer, I look back to ways Jennifer holds a space for you to grow, explore and invent and am grateful to have had such a compassionate, caring and positive role model.”

Jennifer’s commitment to special education, collaboration and differentiated learning for all students represent the values we aspire to and uphold as educators in pursuit of the highest level of service we can provide to students and the community. Please join me in congratulating Jennifer on this well-deserved recognition.

Learn more about the teaching approaches of Jennifer and her fellow recipients at:


Great BC Shakeout – October 16, 2014

The Great BC Shakeout is happening on Thursday, October 16th and our students and staff will Drop, Cover and Hold On as part of this important emergency preparedness event. This is the largest earthquake drill in BC and is another opportunity for our school district to practice and prepare for an earthquake emergency. Keeping students and staff safe at all school sites is a priority and we appreciate parents’ support in speaking to their children about the importance of these drills.


Find more information on earthquake preparedness at:

This year, we are proud to host CBC at Lynn Valley Elementary school as part of their October 16, broadcast on earthquake preparedness. It was almost 10 years ago that we reopened the new, seismically sound, Lynn Valley Elementary. What followed was almost a decade of facilities revitalization that included a number of major seismic upgrade projects in schools, the rebuilding of Westview Elementary, Sutherland Secondary, Highlands Elementary, Ridgeway Elementary, Carson Graham Secondary and Queen Mary Elementary as well as the new Education Services Centre and North Shore Credit Union Environmental Learning Centre – all rebuilt to modern safety standards.