Message from Director of Education

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I am writing today to announce that at the end of my contract, on January 13, 2023, I will be retiring. It has been my honour and privilege to serve the students, families, staff and community members of York Region District School Board as Director of Education since January 2018. I am announcing this now to provide as much time as possible for the Board to engage in a new Director search.

I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of the educational community in York Region. Our shared commitment to building inclusive, respectful and welcoming learning and working environments that foster student learning, achievement and well-being is evident. I have been inspired by the passion and dedication of our students, families, staff and community partners. It has truly been a privilege to work and learn alongside you. 

As the Board’s first permanent female Director of Education, I appreciate the responsibility to ensure we are giving voice to those we serve as educators. Since I began my career as an elementary school teacher in 1990 and throughout my career, I have always put students at the heart of all decisions. 

When I joined YRDSB, the dedication and good work of our students and their families, school and department staff members was evident. We worked hard to highlight the many good things happening in the system and to use this good work to rebuild relationships with our communities. We continue to be grateful that York Region has so many community leaders who are active and passionate about student success and equitable outcomes for all. Strengthening these relationships and building partnerships with community service providers has helped us to enhance the support we provide to students and families. 

I am proud of the work we have taken to advance equity. The Director’s Action Plan, in support of the Trustees’ Multi-Year Strategic Plan, introduced a clear focus on the success of underserved and underperforming students. Through this strategic priority, we have all taken an active role in the Dismantling Anti-Black Racism Strategy. I am especially grateful to the members of Inclusive School and Community Services, school and department equity designates and the community for the creation and implementation of this strategy. We know there is more work to do on dismantling anti-Black racism, anti-Indigenous racism, Islamophobia, antisemitism, homophobia, transphobia and other forms of hate.

I know that YRDSB will continue to take strong steps to ensure that all students feel safe, respected and represented in our classrooms and are able to bring their full selves into school every day. I feel confident in the work taking place and those leading the work to achieve that goal.

The last two years in education have not been easy for staff, students or their families. I know that in addition to struggling with the pivots to/from online and in-person learning, the pandemic has also generated additional workload and pressures on staff and students, uncertain economic conditions for families, challenges of dealing with personal or household illness and the anxiety that working through a global pandemic can bring. While challenging, I feel confident that we have and continue to do all that we can to best serve students, both for their academic achievement and their well-being. I’m so grateful for the staff members that went above and beyond and spent countless hours supporting students, families and colleagues. 

As a school board, we have also worked to strengthen our processes, and ensure transparency and accountability. This includes ensuring our budget development process during contracting enrolment has been inclusive and transparent. We continue to make every effort to share information with staff and families as it becomes available to us. We have also developed strong support for Trustee governance and oversight with the development of monitoring reports to ensure we are remaining accountable in our efforts to achieve our goals and priorities. 

I have every confidence in the incredible people who are a part of this system. Thank you to our students who continue to inspire me every day with their enthusiasm, big ideas and visions for the future. Thank you to our families who support, challenge and partner with us so we can help our students reach their full potential. Thank you to our staff who come to work every day to deliver the very best to our students and who continue to impress me with their passion, knowledge and commitment to supporting our students. Thank you to the senior leadership team for their dedication to serving our system, your creative and strategic thinking and partnership. And thank you to our community partners and community members who work with us to make our system stronger and support our students and families. I also want to thank the Board of Trustees for their commitment to public education and to serving our students, families and staff. 

I look forward to continuing to learn and work alongside you all for the rest of the year and will be forever grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the YRDSB family. 

 

Louise Sirisko

Director