election 2018

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Saugeen Shores Hub reached out to readers and came up with the following questions for your English Trustee candidates for the Bruce-Grey Catholic District School Board Geographic Area #1.

Here are Michael Lemme's answers. The second candidate, Jeff Gautreau, did not respond.

1) What can be done to implement curriculum in support of the teaching Canada's history with First Nations.

At Bruce-Grey Catholic we have provided Grade 4, 6, 8 and 10 teachers with professional development over two days (September 11 and 12) to address the revised Social Studies and History curriculums with a focus on the new Indigenous content. We have an Indigenous Lead Teacher who provides ongoing Professional Development to staff and students during the school year. We believe we are all “called to action” and support the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s mandate to provide reconciliation between all Canadians and Indigenous peoples. We will continue to reach out to our Indigenous allies to support us on this journey.

2) Where do stand on the sex ed classes using the 1998 curriculum?

The Bruce-Grey Catholic District School Board (BGCDSB) will follow the direction of the Ministry to deliver learning experiences rich in meaning and growth to meet and exceed provincial expectations and the needs of our students. In our Catholic schools, the Human Development and Sexual Health components of the Health and Physical Education curriculum have been delivered via our Fully Alive program for over 30 years. It continues to be relevant and supportive of addressing healthy relationships and family life in today's context.

3) What can be done to support the mental health and well-being of students and teachers?

The BGCDSB honours and recognizes that mental health and academic achievement are interconnected. Students are supported in enjoying life to the fullest and achieving their God given potential. Respecting dignity of the human person, inclusion and building resiliency enables us to 'Let Our Light Shine'. Our board has a System Support Team which consists of professionals with expertise and knowledge that supports student achievement, mental health and well-being through therapeutic interventions and creative collaborations. The team consists of Social Workers, Child and Youth Workers, Mental Health and Addiction Nurses and a Resource Teacher.

Following consultation with school mental health teams, a new delivery model was designed for the 2018–2019 school year to be responsive to the needs of schools as they become more aware of the mental health needs within their buildings. The new model provides dedicated Child and Youth Worker time in each school under the direction of Board Social Workers. Pathways to services have been clarified and streamlined for both the Social Workers and the Child and Youth Workers. Further, the Mental Health and Addiction Nurses take on a new role of transition support for students returning to school following hospital or residential stay. This shift in role will strengthen the pathway back into school for students by closing gaps in services and supporting staff in having the knowledge they need to provide appropriate transitions for youth.

We have a number of initiatives for Board employees such as the Not Myself Today Campaign which is based on the understanding that everyone has days when they don’t feel like themselves, but most of us learn or are told to suppress these feelings. For the many people living with mental health issues, this often means struggling to cope with these feelings every day, while often dealing with stigma and a lack of support. The System Support Team is available to assist all employees.

4) What can be done to help teachers support learning differences?

We provide many professional development opportunities for teachers to learn about different learning styles and teachers program for these differences on a daily basis. An example would be providing more hands-on activities for kinaesthetic learners. Each school has an in-school team with consists of the Principal, Resource Teacher, School Coach, and classroom teachers who can be called on to discuss programming needs for students. Additionally, classroom teachers can use Board supports, which would include Instructional Coaches, Consultants and Superintendents. We feel strongly at Bruce Grey Catholic that we need to work together to meet the needs of all of our students.

5) What support can be given to schools to support increasing anxiety and depression rates amount our children and youth?

We hope and trust that the Ministry of Education will continue to provide supports to school boards with the necessary funds and resources to support anxiety and depression with our youth. At Bruce Grey Catholic we continue to provide supports through our Mental Health initiatives. We feel strongly that Mental Health and Academics are connected, Our Faith supports positive Mental Health. We pride ourselves on providing each of our students with caring adults. These Caring adults are paramount to positive student mental health and we know that positive Mental Health Matters!

6) What accommodations can be made for students who can't attend school for extended periods of time or have their productivity at school adversely affected due to mental health concerns?

Students who are unable to attend school due to mental health concerns or other reasons have access to a teacher who will continue to provide appropriate programming outside of the school environment. One such program is the Supervised Alternative Learning program. Students will meet with the teacher at a mutually agreeable location (library, students’ home) and assist them with their school work. The goal is to always have the student return back to school as soon as they are able to.

7) Can more be done to add to the anti bullying climate in schools and what can be done to find and support kids who are being isolated due to bullying?

More opportunities for both staff and students to learn about the effects of bullying would be welcomed. Schools have Ministry mandated Safe School Procedures that deal with students who bully which may include suspension from school. Our Mental Health initiatives provide supports for students who report bullying incidents. Our school Mental Health teams work with all students who are bullied to be self-advocates for themselves and to report incidents immediately. We also expect by-standards to use their voice appropriately and report all incidents.

8) Do you support teaching children about LGBTQ2+ issues and identities in an age appropriate manner and putting additional systems in place to support LGBTQ2+ students?

The BGCDSB supports our Fully Alive program, which is sponsored and developed with the approval of the Ontario Council of Bishops. This program delivers the family life curriculum in Catholic schools and addresses gender identification in an age appropriate manner. We support all students in our schools and any student who identifies as LGBTQ2 is supported appropriately. Both of our high schools have GSA’s (Gay-Straight Alliance groups) and are supported by caring adults who provide a safe place for students to meet and discuss things.

9) What is your position on merging the Public and Catholic school boards to form one system?

Absolutely not! The Bruce Grey Catholic District School Board and the Bluewater Public Board have established several partnerships including purchasing and transportation. This consotrium is staffed by both Public and Catholic Board staff who work in the Catholic Board office. These partnerships avoid duplication of services and benefit ratepayers of both boards.

Choice is absolutely paramount in our society. Parents and children want a choice for their education and the proven success of the Catholic schools with their graduate expectations and faith based system must remain available.

There are some organizations spreading false information that $1 billion could be saved through merging the systems. Publicly funded schools in Ontario are based on a "per pupil" formula. The costs are the same for the same population of students.

I have and will continue to be a strong and passionate advocate and voice for Catholic Education in this province working politically and locally to safeguard our schools. I will fight to ensure that publicly funded Catholic Education in Ontario is here to stay.