City wants to show off the collection of art on the streets of Burlington -includes half a dozen bike racks.

artsblue 100x100By Staff

April 29th, 2019



There is said to be excitement at city hall over the launch of the Art and the City, a self-guided downtown public art walking tour.

If you can get away from your job – join Mayor Marianne Meed Ward and arts and cultural staff for the official launch on Monday, May 6 at 10 a.m. The tour will start at City Hall, rain or shine.

The event is part of the City’s launch of ParticipACTION’s Community Better Challenge and Burlington Walks the Talk program.

Art and the City is available online and accessible from any mobile device. The free web app offers a new way to explore Burlington’s downtown and learn about public art in the process. The tour provides artwork information, photographs and a suggested walking route. The web-based map works across all platforms and allows residents to tour highlights from the public art collection using any internet-enabled smartphone or tablet.

art outside agb

Alumina was commissioned by the Art Gallery of Burlington in 2008. Payce explores the relationships between form and imagery and the connections of objects and ideas in his artwork. Alumina was inspired by late eighteenth century French Sevres vases and Renaissance Mediterranean apothecary jars (albarelli). Looked at from a different angle they could represent the milk cans that used to be part of the landscape before Burlington was a city.

Explore Burlington’s public art collection on this self-guided tour any time and at your own pace. Tour highlights include Portal (across from City Hall), Lady of the Lake (Spencer Smith Park) and Benevolent Angel (Burlington Public Library – Central Branch). Art and the City is divided into two parts and includes 25 public artworks in total.

A limited number of printed guidebooks will soon be available at all city facilities, the Art Gallery of Burlington, Burlington Performing Arts Centre, Burlington Public Library, Museums of Burlington and Tourism Burlington. Art and the City is also available online in PDF format to download, save, and print. Both formats are available online at

“Public art is but one of the many things in Burlington that makes our city livable and enhances the lives of our residents”, said Mayor Marianne Meed Ward in a prepared statement. “ Our collection is quite extensive and unique, and there is something for everyone. The Art in the City walking tour is a great way to see the fantastic pieces we have located in the downtown area and it’s a great way to get some physical activity in, especially now that spring is here.”


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Public school board trustees looking for input from parents on class size changes proposed by province

News 100 blueBy Staff

April 26th, 2019



The Halton District School Board trustees are reaching out to communities in the Region to gather feedback from parents/guardians, students, and community members to include in their submission to the Ministry of Education’s consultations on class size, mandatory e-learning courses and hiring practices. The Ministry’s proposed changes include an increase in average class size of one student in Grades 4-8 and an increase in average class size in high school from 22 to 28 students.

Hayden high school

Dr. Frank J. Hayden Secondary School

The meetings will take place at 7 p.m. in the cafeteria at three schools across the region:

• Thursday May 2, Dr. Frank J. Hayden Secondary School (3040 Tim Dobbie Drive, Burlington)
• Wednesday May 8, Abbey Park High School (1455 Glen Abbey Gate, Oakville)
• Monday May 13, Milton District High School (396 Williams Avenue, Milton)

The agenda will be interactive, with Trustees briefly setting the context followed by participants working together to provide feedback around key areas including class size, e-learning and hiring practices.
Participants are asked to bring a Wi-Fi enabled device (phone, tablet or laptop) to assist in the feedback-gathering process.

Miller in a huddle with Grebenc

Director of Education Stuart Miller confers with Board chair Andrea Grebenc.

“It is critical that Trustees hear from the community on these important issues,” said Andréa Grebenc, Chair of the Halton District School Board. “As Trustees, our mandate as set out by the Education Act is to maintain focus on student achievement and well-being, to assist the Board in delivering effective and appropriate education programs to its pupils and to bring concerns of parents, students and supporters of the Board to the attention of the Board. Holding these meetings will assist us to meet these responsibilities in an informed way.”

To learn more about the Ministry’s consultations and the Education Action meetings, visit

To indicate interest in attending a meeting, find a map to meeting locations, or to request a copy of the final submission for the consultations from the Board of Trustees to the Ministry of Education, please refer to the website. Confirmation of attendance is requested for planning purposes.

All are welcome to attend.


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Community Development Halton going through a transformation with revenue raising getting more attention.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

April 24th, 2019



In the past few months Community Development Halton has sponsored a number of special focus courses – five that we can count so far.

This is not a traditional area for CDH – an organizational that does a lot of research and spawns organizations that get spun off and continue to serve the wider community.

MAID dying

One of the more recent focused day long course offerings from Community Development Halton.


Food 4 Thought and the Age Friendly operation are two examples.

Transit - Rishia Burke + McMeekin

Retired MPP Ted McMeekin in conversation with a former Community Development Halton contract staffer.

The CDH Board has gone through some significant changes – financial constraints have called for some cut backs in the number of hours staff work and a push on bringing in some revenue.

CDH came out of what was once known as the Burlington Social Planning that was headed up by retired MPP Ted McMeekin.

Like every worthwhile organization CDH is going through a transformation and learning to adapt to changing circumstances on the funding side and an even greater need for more in the way of actionable data and the creation of services that meet identifiable needs.

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High school teachers get redundancy notices: 154 of them might not have jobs in September.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

April 24th, 2019



The Halton District School Board issued 154 redundancy letters yesterday to secondary school teachers. This is in addition to the 150 redundancy notices that were issued last week to elementary school teachers.

Stuart MillerStuart Miller said last week that the issuing of the notices is a requirement under the Collective Agreement the school board has with its unions.

Miller was unable to say which high schools will lose teachers come September.

It is worth noting that two of Burlington’s seven high schools were closed: Lester B. Pearson was closed last June – its students were transferred to MM Robinson.

Bateman crestRobert Bateman High School is scheduled to close – the actual date was moved back and is now planned for this June. The bulk of the Bateman students will be going to Nelson High School where new facilities are being built for students with special needs.

Those who keep a close eye on public school matters wondered if the decision made three years ago to close two of the seven high schools was not a smart move – even though it wasn’t seen as a smart move at the time.

Miller said in an earlier interview that the province might come through with additional funding or school principals might find a way to shift course offerings and make it possible for a school to keep its staff.

And there is also the matter of retirements – those might open up some spaces that had to be declared redundant.

It is a pretty fluid situation for school administrators – a very uncomfortable situation for teachers who have been told they might not have a job in September.

Related news story:

Elementary school teachers get redundancy notices.

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150 HDSB elementary teachers told there will probably be no work for them come September - redundancy notices issued

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

April 18th, 2019



There are 150 elementary school teachers with the Halton District School Board who have been told that come September 1st, they don’t have a job.

The “redundancy” notices they received were required under the collective agreement the school board has with the elementary teachers union.

That’s the bad news – and there is more to come.

Stuart Miller

Director Miller

Stuart Miller, Director of Education for the school board said we will learn next week what we will have to issue in terms of redundancy notices to high school teachers.

In an interview Miller said that some of the elementary teachers might get recalled but at this point we still don’t know what our grant structure from the province is going to be. We usually have that information by now – it might be the end of May before we know what we will have in the way of grant money, what individual schools need in the way of teaching staff and what we will have in the way of retirements.

The provincial decision to increase the number of students in elementary school classes after grade 4 and the need to have bigger high school classes isn’t helping.

Redundancy notices are issued on the basis of seniority which means the newer and usually younger teachers are the first to get let go.

Teachers reminding the pubnlic what they do

Teachers reminding the public just what it is they do.

Miller did add that the notices have to be issued at this point – “I am hoping that the province sees us as a board with a growing population. We are opening a new school in Oakville.

“I am working with all the secondary school principals to learn what they think their needs are going to be.

“Right now we are dealing with a lot of if’s and maybes.”

While the Halton |Board has a good working relationship with its unions – those unions don’t like what they see coming their way from the province.  Think strikes in the educational sector.

Cold comfort for those teachers that got the letters telling them that there is no place for them come September.

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School calendar for 2019- 2020 school year released

News 100 blueBy Staff

April 18th, 2019



As most people get ready for a long weekend, hoping that real spring weather will show up, some time might be found to plan for the next set of school holidays.

The Halton District School Board released the calendar for the 2019-2020 school year.
The calendar has to be approved by the Ministry of Education.

School PD days 2019-2020

Getting a calendar to this point is no small feat. The two major school boards have to get their ducks lined up and then they need to look at what else there is in the way of public holidays.

So far we are not seeing very much in the way of accommodating the Muslim community.

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Community Development Halton offering Results based Accountability and Developmental Evaluation course.

News 100 blueBy Staff

April 18th, 2019



Community Development Halton has announced the second in a series of short courses for the not for profit sector

There is an opportunity for people in this sector to “strengthen your grant application skills with strong evaluation techniques. In this series, you will learn different styles of evaluation and their impact on your activities. This full-day session will provide insight into the approaches to evaluation, as well as provide a deepened understanding of “how to”. This is the second session of Measuring Impact: Evaluation Approaches workshop series.

*This series is intended for staff and board members concerned about or charged with measuring impact in their organizations and/or programs.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019
9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Community Development Halton,
3350 South Service Rd, Burlington
Session fee: $100 Members; $125 Non-members.
Lunch will be provided.

This session is focused on Results-Based Accountability and Developmental Evaluation, both of which, move in varying degrees beyond the linearity of more traditional approaches to evaluation.

Key learnings:
• Understanding key concepts that shape Results-Based Accountability as an approach to program planning, community planning, and evaluation.

• Appreciating the distinction between performance accountability and population accountability.

• Understand the planning processes inherent in both performance accountability and population accountability.

• Insight into the challenges of evaluating innovative initiatives in complex systems using more traditional evaluation approaches.

• Understand when developmental evaluation is appropriate to use.

• Develop an appreciation for systems thinking and the role of the evaluator in developmental evaluation.

Facilitator: JODY ORR, of The Chrysalis Group has an extensive background in designing and carrying out evaluation in the human services sector. With a master’s degree in Sociology and founding principal in an organizational and community development consulting firm, Jody has worked for 17 years in the nonprofit sector. Currently the embedded evaluator with the Centre for Innovation in Peer Support, her consulting work involves research and policy analysis.

CDH grant aplication skills May 2019

Upcoming session (session #3.) Research Methods to Support Evaluation and Evaluation Readiness (Wednesday, June 12, 2019 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.)
For more information find the flyer attached or contact 1-855-395-8807 ext. 2 or

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Death is not a medical event. It is a social process and talking about it won't kill you.

eventsblue 100x100By Janet Gadeski

April16th, 2019



The title of the talk that is to take place at the Library on New Street on Thursday, May 2 from 7 to 8:30 pm certainly catches the eye.

“Death is not a medical event. It is a social process,”


Kathy-Kortes-Miller – author.

Kathy Kortes-Miller. A social worker and palliative care specialist, speaks from systemic and personal experience.

Kathy’s book, Talking About Death Won’t Kill You (ECW Press, 2018), came out of that journey. Its helpful chapters include strategies and tips for becoming better informed; talking openly with family members, especially children; sharing with co-workers, creating compassionate workplaces for yourself and others; working through personal and medical decisions; making your values and wishes clear in an advance care plan; managing and benefitting from digital communications, including social media; and considering medical assistance in dying.

Death book coverShe has earned a reputation for managing this topic with expertise, empathy, and humour. If you’d like her to tell you more about preparing for death and dying, join her at Burlington’s Central Library, Centennial Room, from 7 to 8:30 pm on Thursday, May 2. There will be plenty of time for your questions. Copies of the book will be available for sale too. The event is co-sponsored by the Burlington Public Library and Carpenter Hospice with the assistance of The Different Drummer in support of The 100% Certainty Project.

To register for this free event, go to See you there!

Burlington resident Janet Gadeski is a former board member of The Carpenter Hospice. An avid reader, she represents the Hospice on The 100% Certainty Project’s working group, a project dedicated to helping people talk about and prepare for dying, death, and bereavement.

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Breakfast Bash has set a $68,000 target for their on-line auction. Help make it happen.

eventsgreen 100x100By Staff

April 16th, 2019



There is a program delivered to many schools in Halton Region: Food for Thought.

Food for Thought is a Region wide program that works with elementary and high schools to ensure that every student has access to a proper breakfast.

The program takes place every day of the week at 130 schools across Halton and feeds more than 27,000 students a week.  They have over 2,100 volunteers (including 930 students) and dozens of community partners who all work together to feed students in their communities.

For the first time ever, Halton Food for Thought is hosting an online auction as part of our annual Breakfast Bash!

Breakfast bash

Some amazing items have been donated by community partners and corporations. All proceeds for the online auction will go directly to support the 2019 Breakfast Bash goal of $68,000.

Please send us a message if you have anything you can donate!

You won’t want to miss this event!

Auction items will be added shortly, and bidders will have a week to preview before the bidding starts.

Bidding will start at 9 am on Wednesday, April 24! This portion of our Breakfast Bash event will only be run on Facebook.

Any items not securing a minimum bid online will be transferred to the Silent Auction at our Breakfast Bash on May 3rd.

The Food for Thought story.

Link to the Facebook page


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Fire department looking for volunteers: applications close May 3rd.

News 100 redBy Staff

April 16th, 2019



A lot of the members of the Burlington Fire Department got their start as volunteers.

The department is accepting volunteer applications online from the public from April 15 to May 3, 2019.

Fire pumpet - boots at door

Pump trucks – ready to roll in an instant.

All applicants must:

• be 18 years of age or older
• be legally entitled to work in Canada
• pass a health and medical evaluation, and fitness assessment
• have a permanent residence within six minutes travel time to Station No. 5 at 2241 Kilbride St. or reside in Burlington within 20 minutes of Station No. 1 at 1255 Fairview St.

For more information and the online application form, please visit and

The application period opened April 15 and closes at 11:59 p.m. on May 3, 2019.

The Burlington Fire Department consists of both professional and volunteer firefighters. New recruits will be assigned to Fire Headquarters, Station No. 1 or Fire Station No. 5, based on where the applicant lives. The Kilbride station covers the rural areas of Burlington, mostly north of No. 2 Sideroad.


Fire fighters with hoses

Fire fighters being trained how to use hoses when extinguishing a car on fire.

Deputy Fire Chief Karen Roche, who you will get to know very well if you are accepted as a volunteer, explains what they are looking for:

“We are looking for people who want to join the Burlington Fire Department. Applicants should be passionate about public safety and be interested in a challenging opportunity to serve Burlington as a volunteer firefighter. Being a volunteer firefighter is no ordinary job; the work is varied and challenging but also highly rewarding.”

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Halton students do well in science competition.

News 100 yellowBy Staff

April 11th, 2019



Halton District School Board students captured the highest number of awards in the 59th annual Bay Area Science and Engineering Fair (BASEF) in Hamilton from March 29 – April 2.

More than 450 students took part in the ArcelorMittal Dofasco-sponsored BASEF at Mohawk College, where more than $300,000 worth of prizes were awarded to celebrate young science and engineering enthusiasts.

Burlington public school board students didn’t do all that well when compared to other schools. Oakville students cleaned up and a number of students from Trinity Christian School did very well. The gender split was also very good. For a look at all the winners CLICK HERE.

Sc Fair Hailey Israel

Hailey Israel, St. Mary’s Elementary School.

Sc Fair - Connor Beaupre +

Connor Beaupre and Phillip Kim

Sc Fair xx Levi

Levi Fox, Trinity Christian School.

Sc Fair egg girl

Beatrice Faber, Trinity Christian School.

Within the HDSB, 15 schools participated with students creating 160 projects and capturing 147 prizes while competing against six other school boards and independent schools.

The Best-In-Fair award was won by Sabrina Mogus, Grade 9 student at White Oaks SS for her project, ‘Need some TLC? Tigernut Liquid Coagulant: An undiscovered biocoagulant for water turbidity reduction’. Mogus is also the recipient of the Best High School Project award. Arielle Ainabe, Grade 12 student at Garth Webb SS, came in third place for her project, ‘Tardigrade Mech: Using Boron Nitride Nanotubes for Space Radiation Protection’.

Mogus and Ainabe are also among the four high school students chosen to compete at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, taking place mid-May in Phoenix, Arizona.

W.H. Morden PS in Oakville earned the Top Elementary School award.
Qualifying for the Canada Wide Science Fair, taking place mid-May in Fredericton, New Brunswick are:

• Jeffrey Klinck, Grade 8 student at W.H. Morden PS – ‘Using B.C.I. and A.I. for Emotion Detection for Mental Health Applications’

• Monica Mahut, Grade 11 student at M.M. Robinson HS – ‘Elevator to Everywhere’

• Evan Shvetsov, Grade 8 student at Maple Grove PS – ‘How Neurolinguistic Programming in Media Affects Consumers’

• Lily Smales, Grade 8 student at W.H. Morden PS – ‘Convolutional Neural Network to Detect Eyes with Early Stages of Visual Impairment’

• Mohammed Torkmani and Raphael Xu, Grade 8 students at Maple Grove PS – ‘Plastic Delicacies’

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Seven professional activity days for public school teachers next year.

News 100 redBy Staff

April 5th, 2019



Parents can now plan some of their off-season travel plans – the Halton District School Board has released the Professional Activity (PA) days for the 2019-2020 school year.  There will be seven of these days for the school year that starts next September.

The list was approved by the Board of Trustees last week and, subject to provincial approval, this is what the schedule will be:

School PD days

The school year calendar is developed with input from the School Year Calendar Committee consisting of representatives from interested and affected groups, including parents/guardians. The 2019-2020 school year calendar is aligned with the Halton Catholic District School Board calendar, to save resources on school bus transportation, which is shared between the boards.

The calendar outlines the Professional Activity days (P.A.) for staff when schools will be closed to students. Note that two of the P.A. days will take place on Mondays (September 16, 2019 and April 27, 2020).

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Using data to tell your story.

News 100 redBy Staff

April 1st, 2019

Burlington, ON


CDH STORY HEdWith information coming at you faster than a mile a second – it is a challenge to keep up – and an even bigger challenge to get the attention you want.


There are all kinds of graphics tools that can help you make a point.

Strong graphic presentations are part of that “a picture is worth a thousand words” phrase. The trick is to know just what kind of graphic to use.

Community Development Halton is running a class on Letting Data Tell Your Story.

In this workshop you will:

• Understand the changing demographics of Halton based on Our Halton 2018 series
• Discuss where to find specific data, how and when to use data
• Learn how to start building a data culture in your organization
• Discover what data to collect and the application of it.

TED HILDEBRANDT, Director of Social Planning at Community Development Halton, oversees the acquisition and analysis of data, including the publications of Halton Social Profiles, Community Lens, and the Our Halton 2018 series. Ted also works with other nonprofit organizations addressing their specific issues such as diversity, poverty, and housing affordability. Ted will be the class presenter.

cdh GRAPHICS - DATERegistration at ; Limited space available.
$50 CDH Members; $60 Non-members
Contact: or 1-855-395-8807

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Rivers on solving the cost of education: Cutting the herd reduces the feed bill.

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

March 28th, 2109


“When students are currently preparing to go off to post-secondary education, we’re hearing from professors and employers alike that they’re lacking coping skills and they’re lacking resiliency….By increasing class sizes in high school, we’re preparing them for the reality of post-secondary as well as the world of work.” (Hon. Lisa Thompson MMP, Ontario Minister of Education – CBC Radio’s Metro Morning).

When it came to appointing Ontario’s new minister of education Mr. Ford had a problem – too many farmers and not enough educators. So Ernie Hardeman got the agriculture ministry. After all he’d been there before, back in the Harris days.

That left Ford with a problem called Lisa Thompson. He could have just left her on the backbench but perhaps the romantic notion of a goat farmer herding those gruff teachers amused him. In addition, Thompson has a certificate in agricultural leadership, so who better to shepherd the province’s kids.

Besides, having scant knowledge of Ontario’s education system might be an advantage. Ontario’s educators would never make the mistake of assuming she’s one of them. And she’d have no reason to feel any collegiality towards them. In addition, having that kind of barrier between knowledgeable teachers and a blissfully ignorant minister, about to shred their future, is probably a good thing. At least from Mr. Ford’s view point.

Her marching orders from the Premier were to chop a billion dollars or so from the provincial education budget. So she followed her instincts and did what she would have done on the farm whenever the budget got tight. It’s obvious. Cutting the herd reduces the feed bill.

86However, the fact is that more teachers and smaller classrooms have transformed Ontario’s education system. Graduation rates have skyrocketed from 68 percent at the end of the Harris/Eves government to over 86 percent today. That is a jump of 18 percentage points in the fifteen years the Liberal government policy of smaller classrooms had been in place.

Even the Fraser Institute, the go to place for your Tory Bible, hasn’t tried to minimize that statistic. They do quibble otherwise about test results, arguably cherry picking their examples. But even they don’t quibble that graduation better prepares our youth for their next step in life.

The Liberals increased education spending by about $6 billion over their time in office. After adjusting for inflation that is less than a couple billion dollars. That was the price Ontario paid for full day kindergarten and to achieve graduation rates approaching 90%. And does anyone, other than the government, argue that early education and completing graduation make for less resilient youth entering the workplace?

Lisa Thompson really needs to go back to class if she wants to understand her portfolio. A simple google search would have unambiguously shown her that the only association between resilience/coping skills and class size is that smaller is always better. Not the other way around.

So she made it up. Those “professors and employers” were fictional, or they, like her, are blessed with a keen ability to shovel goat manure.  It’s dishonest at best, and how can we expect our children to grow up to be ethical, with that kind of role model at the highest level of their education system?

Lisa Thompson is supposed to be the minister of education, not the minister of propaganda.

Grade 9 math

The grade rates are good for students on the academic side – barely acceptable for the applied level.

The billion dollars Ford is after in education pales when weighed against the near $900 billion GDP economy of this province. And that GDP is driven by its human capital. There may not be benefit-cost studies which demonstrate the added contribution to our economy from smaller classes in high school, but it’s not zero. And it’s not negative as the minister would have you believe.

Teachers would rather walk on broken glass than think back on the good old Mike Harris years. How well they’d recall another unqualified education minister, a grade 11 drop out, who deliberately created a crisis and then started a war. And that war between teachers and parents and the Harris/ Eves government lasted until the bums were finally booted from office. Nobody is asking for its replay.

Lisa Thompson stepped in it, as they say down on the farm, when she shot her mouth off about something she clearly knows nothing about. Perhaps it’s time she moved on to something she does understand.

Rivers hand to faceRay Rivers writes regularly on both federal and provincial politics, applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking.  Rivers was once a candidate for provincial office in Burlington.  He was the founder of the Burlington citizen committee on sustainability at a time when climate warming was a hotly debated subject.   Ray has a post graduate degree in economics that he earned at the University of Ottawa.  Tweet @rayzrivers


Background links:

Class Sizes –     Resilience –    Lisa Thompson

Smaller Classes –     Graduation Rates –     Fraser Institute

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Students have been selected; course load is in place - iStem students will start classes in September.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

March 27th, 2019



It all started more than two years ago. It was a comment from a trustee who hadn’t managed to be re-elected in 2018 that caught the attention of the Halton District Board of Education (HDSB).

At the time the HDSB had determined that it needed to close some of the high schools in Burlington and the battle between the high schools as to which would actually be closed was fierce.

When the decision to close Central High School was reversed those at Aldershot High School were concerned that their school might have to close.

Richelle  Papin, who at the time was the trustee for ward 4, suggested that Aldershot might be a good place for an “incubator” school or a school that would focus on a specific subject area –perhaps a school with a strong focus on sports or the arts.

Papin wasn’t very specific but the mention was enough of a spark to get the HDSB thinking – and think they did.

They researched, asked a lot of people a lot of questions and met with anyone who had something to say about developing new approaches to the way high schools offered curriculum programs.

Turned out that there were a lot of people with something to say.

M Benz event istem poster

At a hands-on meeting of stakeholders everyone got a chance to explain what they were expecting.

After a lot of stakeholder meetings and conversations with people who were taking a long, deep, serious look at how high school students were being prepared for university and the work world HDSB decided that STEM – Science Technology, Engineering and Technology was a direction they wanted to go in –then they added an i to coin the phrase iStem which was what would be offered at Aldershot high school.

The standard high school offering would continue – the iStem would be an additional layer that would earn the graduates a certificate which is expected for entry into most universities in the country and position the holders of the certificate with great job opportunities.

iStem students don’t get a pass on the traditional class requirements. To get an iStem certificate they have to complete:

Gr. 9 STEM Math
Gr. 9 STEM Science
Gr. 9 STEM Geography
Gr. 9 STEM Technological Design

Along with

Gr. 9 English
Gr. 9 French
Gr. 9 Arts (Elective)
Gr. 9 Physical Education

Blackwell + Tuffen as a team

Superintendents Terri Blackwell and Gord Truffen explaining the justification to the Board of trustees who gave the go ahead for the idea.

In the early days the Board thinkers were cautious- they thought they might attract 35 – maybe 50 students.

As the staff and the teachers get closer to the September 2019 opening they find themselves looking at 124 students enrolled in the program – far more than anyone was even prepared to even dream of two years ago.

The Superintendent behind the new offering, Terri Blackwell turned over every stone she saw and asked questions.

Getting the word out to the community was the task that teacher Kerry Sager was given. Sagar is one of these people who is best described as a “keener”. Once she has her eyes focused on the objective she is tougher than a dog with a bone.

She used every medium she could find to get the word out – she spent part of a day putting 1000 flyers on the seats of GO trains to get the word out.

And the word did get out.

Sager found that the parents of the students who applied wanted to be in on the process as much as possible – they see this different approach to educating high school students as a path to success for their children.

Sagar behind screen

Lead teacher for the iStem classes at Aldershot High School Kelly Sagar

Deciding who would be a good fit for the program was not a process that went looking for the “best and the brightest”.

“There is nothing elitist about the iStem program” said Sagar. “What we were looking for were students who had ideas; things they wanted to get done and with the capacity to look at problems differently.

One of the problems the students are going to be asked to take on is called: Ship the chip – the exercise is to put a potato chip in a container and ship it to themselves and have it arrive in perfect condition.

In each of the grade levels the focus will be on what is being called a “tool kit” that will serve as a guide.

Year 1 – Engineer’s Toolkit In grade 9, students explore and develop innovation skills related to engineering design and design thinking. Engineers use their creativity and analytical skills to invent, design, and build things that matter. The design thinking process brings the lens of human-centred design to solving real world problems. These design processes will enable students to further develop mindsets that include creativity, critical thinking, strategy, and project management.

Blackwell and Miller at itsem Nov 2018

The night that parents with their student children showed up for a briefing on the iStem program stunned board staff. The crowd filled the auditorium, then the cafeteria and then the library. Superintendent Blackwell and Director of Education Stuart Miller were surprised and delighted – they had taken a chance – and it paid off.

The program at Aldershot will start with the 124 grade nine students who will progress right through to high school leaving. The difference is that they will have taken an approach to learning that is different than the standard curriculum. In 2020 there will be a new grade nine until the school has a full complement of high school classes.

These students are not top level marks types. There is at least one with a learning disability.

The selection was based on the answers the students gave to the questions they were asked on why they wanted to be an iStem student.

“The answers we got from those that were selected were awesome” said Sagar.

The space in the high school is being renovated to meet the different needs of an iStem teaching environment that begins in September.

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ECoB event sells out in less than 12 hours - larger space being arranged.

News 100 yellowBy Pepper Parr

March 26th, 2019



Interesting how things change. What was once defined as an organization that had little if anything in the way of credibility grows to become what looks like a growing and politically influential organization.

high profile 421

People were stunned – they saw it as mind boggling. When the development of a 24 storey development across the street from city hall was first shown to the public there wasn’t a lot of protest.

ECoB was created by a group that was stunned by the kind of growth that was taking place in the city’s downtown core. The possibility of a 24 storey building rising across the street from city hall was mind boggling to these people.

The approach they perceived was being taken by the city’s Planning department and the degree to which the city council that was in place at the time was just too much for what was initially a small group of people who were described as “the anti-development crowd”

During the 2018 election three of the members of council seeking to be re-elected: Blair Lancaster, Paul Sharman and Jack Dennison would have nothing to do with the group that organized and held ward level debates that produced packed church hall meetings.

Sharman seat at ward 5

Councillor Paul Sharman was a No Show at the ward 5 debate

Sharman wouldn’t take part in the ECoB ward 5 debate, neither would Lancaster who arranged to hold her own debate. Dennison said he wouldn’t attend and jerked the ECoB people around with scheduling. Dennison did see that he was making a mistake and left a city council meeting early to take part in the debate at Nelson High School – he still lost; mostly because he was running against a single candidate with no vote splitting possible.

ECoB met a public need and has decided to continue to do what it could to ensure that there is an informed electorate that can be made aware of what is going on at city hall.

ECoB debate at Baptist on New

Crowds like this for a ward level debate were close to an unheard of event in Burlington.

They took up one of former Mayor Rick Goldring’s ideas – he created the Inspire Series of speakers that came to Burlington. It was a good idea.

ECoB created their Inform series –the first takes place June 13th, and will feature Burlington Mayor Marianne Meed Ward and Oakville Mayor Rob Burton in conversation about issues that matter to both communities.
Roland Tanner will serve as facilitator of the event.

The event was scheduled to take place in the Community Theatre in the Performing Arts Centre. They “sold out” in less than 12 hours after the free tickets were made available.

Penny Hersh

Penny Hersh – ECoB co-chair

One member of council wasn’t able to get a seat – she waited too long. A waiting list was set up.
Penny Hersh – ECoB co-chair (Roland Tanner is the other co-chair) looked for a way to book the Main Theatre which can hold at least 750 people.

“It’s a bit of a gamble” said Hersh “but the demand seems to be there so we took the risk”. Hersh added that some of the strong supporters wrote big cheques to help cover the cost. Kelly’s Bake Shop decided to be a supporter – think Cup Cakes when you are downtown next.

donations box

Paper money please for the donation box at the ECoB Inform event on June 13th.

And think donation when you take your seat – there will be highly visible donation boxes – think paper money.

ECoB is a bit of a different fish when it comes to their organizational structure. “Our goal” said Hersh, “was to help people in each ward create their own ward level organization that would focus on their issues. We don’t tell them what to do. We support them, answer their questions and give them any advice when they ask.”

There are active ECoB groups in all six wards. “Some are better organized than others, some are truly representative of the community,” said Hersh.

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Student art to be on display at New Street Education Centre.

News 100 redBy Staff

March 19th, 2019



Every year for the past 15 years the Halton District School Board has showcased the artistic talent of Kindergarten to Grade 8 students The presentation fills the Brock Room at the New Street Education Centre on 3250 New St, Burlington.

The popular event will showcase the artistic talent of Kindergarten to Grade 8 students, with various styles of artwork displayed including paintings, sculptures, puppets, paper maché, crayons, pastels, ink, fabric, 2D and 3D pieces.

Sculpture - curvy

From the hands of an elementary school student.

Circuit city

Student took a discarded circuit board and turned it into a statement about where people live.

The exhibit pieces are selected by teachers to highlight art curriculum expectations. The purpose of the Elementary Art Show is to showcase student artwork and hopefully inspire and encourage others to pursue creative endeavours.

More than 1,000 students, teachers, parents/guardians, and community members are expected to visit the Elementary Art Show to tour the works of art over the course of the three-day exhibit. Professional artists from the Art Gallery of Burlington will demonstrate different artistic techniques such as pottery, weaving, spinning, photography, fine art and more. The artists will provide students with hands-on opportunities to show them how art can have a place in their future.

Rebecca MacRae

Rebecca MacRae, Instructional Program Leader – The Arts

“Elements and Expressions displays the self-expression, imagination and artistic mindset of our young Halton artists,” says Rebecca , Instructional Program Leader – The Arts for the Halton District School Board. “The pieces in this exhibit show the range of art disciplines the students explore with their visual arts teachers. Through the creation of art, students explore their ideas and imaginations and connect to their own realities.”

Student artwork will be on display during the following times:

• Tuesday, March 26 from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.
• Wednesday, March 27 from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.
• Thursday, March 28 from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.
• Friday, March 29 from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.

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Provinces releases new education initiatives on a Friday at the end of Spring Break when a lot of parents are away.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

March 18th, 21019



The province announced major changes in the way education is going to be delivered to elementary and high school students in the province.

They want to take the cell phones out of the hands of students.

They want to get ‘Back-to-Basics’ Math Curriculum, Renewed Focus on Skilled Trades and STEM – Science,Technology Engineering and Mathematics curriculum.

The Halton District School Board HDSB is more than a couple of steps ahead of the province. In September they will open the first part of the iStem program at Aldershot High School.  A total of 124 students have registered in a program that has taken two years to create.

Terri Blackwell, Superintendent of Education said “after extensive consultation with parents, staff, post secondary partners, industry leaders and students in the 2017-2018 year lead to the Innovation – Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (iStem) Program at Aldershot. This past year we have been working closely with an outstanding Advisory Group consisting of post secondary partners, community organizations and industry leaders.

“The Engineer’s Toolkit in grade 9, the Entrepreneur’s Toolkit in grade 10 and the Global Innovator’s Toolkit in the senior years was developed in partnership with our ever growing Advisory Group. With a focus on Innovation (the “I” in iStem), students will contribute and thrive in our technologically intensive world through interdisciplinary learning opportunities connecting Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). Learning in the classroom will be paired with experiential learning and mentorship with the community and workplace.”

Blackwell and Miller at itsem Nov 2018

Halton District School Board Superintendent Terri Blackwell and Director of Education Stuart Miller at the first parent night announcing the program.

Blackwell added: “As part of the application process students were asked to respond to a number of questions: “What is one problem you would like to solve or big question you would like to explore as part of your learning in the iStem program?”.

“We were inspired by the responses from students and will continue to build learning opportunities with input from them.”

Director of Education Stuart Miller said: The Minister of Education has spoken previously about the need for more opportunities for students to pursue an iStem curriculum.

We are very proud at the HDSB that we have gotten out in front of the province’s direction. Almost two years ago we began the process of enhancing the program at Aldershot High School by focusing on iStem (i being for innovation) commencing in September 2019. Through the work of many staff, but in particular Superintendent Terri Blackwell we have forged relationships with post secondary institutions and some private companies in helping us develop it. We have had tremendous interest from not just the community, but also beyond and as a result we will see a large increase in the number of students attending Aldershot in September enrolled in iStem.

“More importantly we will be preparing these students to pursue many opportunities beyond High school related to all things iStem.”

The provincial media release on changes coming to education covered much more than iStem.

All the buzz words that the PR types the government has hired are in the province’s Media Release. “We will make sure our students are leaving school with the skills they need to build good lives, families and careers right here in Ontario, while ensuring the system is both fiscally sustainable and respectful of parents.”

lisa Thomson with sign

Minister of Education Lisa Thomson

“The new vision will modernize Ontario’s classrooms and provide students with more learning opportunities to prepare them for success in post-secondary education, apprenticeship and training, and the workforce. The plan would include:

Modernizing classrooms by expanding broadband, developing a new policy that will ban the use of cellphones during class except for educational purposes and modernizing the approach to assessment and evaluation with a renewed focus on equity across the province.

Introducing changes to education funding that keep resources focused on students in the classroom.

Supporting teacher mobility, greater transparency, fairness, consistency and accountability to school board hiring practices of teachers.

Maintaining class sizes for Kindergarten to Grade 3, establishing a consistent approach to class sizes for grades 4 to 8 and aligning secondary class sizes more closely with other Canadian jurisdictions, while introducing a new approach to e-learning and reducing pressure on school boards to put students in portables and split classes.
Undertaking curriculum reform that will include:

A new math curriculum that will focus on math fundamentals for all grades;

A renewed focus on STEM, skilled trades and financial literacy; and

A modern and age-appropriate Health and Physical Education curriculum that will keep students safe.

“There will be clear provisions for parents who wish to exempt their child or children from sexual health education, and online modules will be available for parents who want to discuss sexual health topics at home whenever they feel their child is ready.

“The government is committed to discussing the key elements of the proposed plan, including hiring practices and class sizes, through a consultation process that allows partners to provide the benefit of their expertise, experience and ideas.

Lisa Thomson

Minister Lisa Thomson

“We welcome conversation with any education stakeholder who is prepared to work with us in good faith to ensure our plan continues to serve the best interests of Ontario’s students in a way that works for families and school boards and is fair to our educators.” said Thompson.

Look carefully at some of the phrasing:

“…prepared to work with us in good faith to ensure our plan continues to serve the best interests of students…”

They don’t say they are going to listen.

“…establishing a consistent approach to class sizes for grades 4 to 8 and aligning secondary class sizes more closely with other Canadian jurisdictions.”

An increase in the number of students in classrooms.

“Supporting teacher mobility, greater transparency, fairness, consistency and accountability to school board hiring practices of teachers.”

Teachers aren’t interested in the kind of mobility the government is talking about. Transparency is a two way street.

The document was released on a Friday at the end of the Spring Break when what parents are about most concerned about is knowing that they are going to be able to get on a flight that gets them back so they can have the kids ready for school on Monday.

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Braithwaite: What I learned from magnetic stones: force and resistance.

opinionviolet 100x100By Alison Braithwaite

March 14th, 2019



I have these beautiful black, flat, polished stones that are magnetic. I believe it is called hematite. I love how they feel in my hand and I love that they are magnetic.

When I hold them I feel grounded.

Then I noticed something. I was playing with two of the stones the other day and I noticed something interesting. I was playing with their resistance.

You know how when you bring two magnets together the wrong way, you can feel the strength of their resistance? No matter how hard you push them together they resist.

Braithwaite UnearthedIf you push them past a certain point the magnetic forces them to either side of each other.

And you know how when you flip the magnets the other way there is a strong force that instantly brings the magnets together.

What I noticed was that as a certain point the force that brings the stones careening together and the force of resistance that repels the stones feels the same.

I found this so fascinating.

Immediately, I thought of how this applies to life; how it applies to dealing with difficult situations.

We have all likely felt that resistance when we are pushing forward to achieve something. That moment when we think this is too hard, it’s taking too much effort, why can’t I get past this point, why don’t they understand what I am trying to do.

Then one magic step forward and everything opens up and starts to happen so fast and with so much ease.

And then there’s the other situation…

force and resistence - magnets

Force and resistance – shows with magnets – in life as well?

The situation where we keep pushing and pushing and the harder we push the more we are flung onto a different path. It can be exhausting.

If you find yourself constantly pushing with nothing to show for yourself
1. Take a moment to notice what’s happening.
2. Pause.
3. Assess the situation.
Ask yourself some questions

How long have you been striving in this situation?

• Sometimes we push ourselves too hard to change a situation or achieve a goal. We are so focused on pushing forward that we lose perspective and exhaust ourselves.
How are you physically, mentally and emotionally feeling?

• Sometimes we don’t pay attention to ourselves and how we feel. Yet we have this inner wisdom that knows exactly what our next step should be and that answer may be rest, regroup, think again.
What is the next right step?

• What is the next right step for you, not just for the situation? You are just as important as the situation.
Are you about to take the same step?

• Sometimes we do the same thing over and over again and expect something different. In order to come together, one of the hematite stones needs to be flipped right over and then instantly they are drawn together.
How can you flip yourself, your thinking, your beliefs and perspectives?

• What stories are you telling yourself about the goal, the situation and the people involved?

• What stories are you telling yourself about your abilities, your determination, your state of mind?

• How can you flip yourself, see things from a new and energizing perspective?

• What would it be like to create the opposite story, take on the opposite belief, talk to someone about where you are that you have never spoken to and in fact maybe avoided to get their perspective on things?

• Is there something that you need to accept about the situation or the people involved in order to realign yourself to who you are?
How can you flip the situation?

• This one might be a bit tougher to unearth. It means looking at the situation, the people involved, the beliefs that they hold, the stories they are telling themselves about the situation from as many perspectives that you can. What can you do to shift their perspectives, their stories, their beliefs? If you try to do it by force you will exhaust yourself.

• Somewhere in all of this is a point of leverage, where one person involves shifts and with that, the whole situation flips. And your story is key. There is something in your past experience that is key to what you believe. How can you tell your story or help someone experience what you have so that light bulb goes off inside them and their understanding flips?

Is it time to actually follow the other path?

• Don’t’ get fooled into believing the resistance you are feeling can just be pushed through.

• When you bring two magnets together and they resist, one gets thrown to the side, displaced, oriented differently. Perhaps it might be easier to follow the path in the direction you are being thrown. Just maybe things will open up for you if you walk that way.
Next steps:
1. Make a decision.
2. Take action.
3. Monitor the action and how you are feeling.
4. Adapt your approach. (So you feel like yourself).

Welcome into and expect ease and grace in your life. You and life will be so much more amazing if you do.

You can follow Alison HERE.

BraithwaiteAlison Braithwaite spent years in the corporate world – environmental services.  She was a member of the executive team of a North American wide aggregate, emulsion and environmental company where she was responsible for environmental performance and sustainability.  Braithwaite has a Master of Arts in Leadership and a Graduate Certificate in Executive Coaching both from Royal Roads University in Victoria, British Columbia.


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Fibre Arts demonstrations at the AGB this weekend.

artsblue 100x100By Staff

March 7th, 2019



This weekend at the AGB: John Willard Fibre Arts Resident Line Dufour is hosting two exciting demonstrations!

Saturday, March 9 | 11 – 4 PM: Tapestry Weaving Demonstration in the Brock Lobby

Sunday, March 10 | 11 – 4 PM: Felted Wool Balls Session in the Textile Studio

Felt artist Dufour

The John Willard AGB Fibre Arts Resident Line Dufour

The community is invited to make their own felted wool ball.

Participants can bring their own materials, including lopi or feltable yarn, a darning needle, pantyhose, 1 yard of non-feltable yarn (polyester, acrylic, cotton), and scissors.

Participants can also pay $5.00 to be provided with any materials needed!

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