Near the end of August and beginning of September, the Vancouver School Board (VSB) began gearing up for an exciting new school year. After all, it’s that time again when backpacks are filled with fresh notebooks, classrooms are readied, and teachers are busy fine-tuning their lesson plans.
In a series of “Back 2 School” newsletters, the VSB outlines the behind-the-scenes preparations that go into making each academic year a success. From curriculum updates to safety measures, we’ll break down how the VSB and Vancouver School District are getting ready to welcome students back to the classrooms and embark on another year of growth and learning.
Checking in with school administrators
The VSB recently checked in with Daniel Belanger, the principal of Trafalgar Elementary. As an administrator, Belanger has been hard at work with preparing students’ returns to school, using his years of teaching and classroom experiences to create a welcoming environment for new and returning students and staff.
School administrators like Belanger are responsible for the overall planning and coordination of the school year, and this typically includes setting academic goals, developing the school’s budget, creating schedules, and ensuring that all necessary resources are in place. Checking into school before the teachers and students do allows administrators to finalize these plans and ensure a smooth start to the academic year.
Checking in with food services and IT
VSB’s Food Services team plays an important role in providing nutritious meals to students, ensuring their health and well-being while they are at school. Food Services currently oversees all food programs in the Vancouver School District, including cafeterias, breakfast and lunch programs. Earlier this summer, the team worked to renovate the commissary kitchen at Britannia Secondary School, which is set to service the District’s Food4School and LunchSmart programs and produce hot meals for students in more than 50 elementary schools across Vancouver.
The Learning Information Technology (LIT) department is another important team that focuses on helping teachers, staff members, and students with security, applications, and management of devices. Over the summer, the LIT team worked hard to safeguard student accounts, prepare Teams classrooms for online teaching, and deliver 1,300 laptops to various schools.
Checking in with the Indigenous Education Department
This September, Chas Desjarlais, director of instruction for Indigenous education, worked with the VSB to ensure that all elementary and secondary schools would receive a selection of books written by Indigenous authors. 300 titles comprising 16,385 books were purchased, and these books will be distributed throughout classrooms to help students build cultural awareness, develop an understanding of Indigenous perspectives, and take part in the broader process of reconciliation.
Starting in September, all students in BC must complete at least four credits in Indigenous-focused coursework to graduate.
Checking in with employee services
With 50,000 students enrolled in schools across Metro Vancouver, it’s important to have all hands on deck. Every summer, the recruitment team keeps busy by hiring on-call teachers, support staff (custodians, supervisors, office staff, IT experts, etc.), and individuals in specialized roles. Those who are hired will then go through onboarding and orientation sessions before they can start working in schools.
Checking in with facilities
Have you been seeing those big blue signs at the front of schools? In case you haven’t read what’s written on them, B.C. is working on seismic upgrades for schools across the province, including Metro Vancouver. As of January 2023, work was completed on over 213 elementary and secondary schools, and the goal is to upgrade 496 schools in total. Meanwhile, plenty of other projects took place over this summer, including the construction of new playgrounds, installations of portable classrooms, and routine maintenance of buildings and outdoor fields.
Checking in with school liaison officers
A new school year calls for the return of the School Liaison Office (SLO) program. The SLO program invites members of the Vancouver Police Department to schools across the Vancouver School District to deliver sessions on safety and crime prevention, provide guidance to those who seek support, and act as a resource to students, administrators, and staff. The program is also part of an ongoing effort by the VSB to enhance school safety.
VSB superintendent Helen McGregor says that “the partnership between VSB and the VPD reflects [VSB’s] shared commitment to work together to support school safety” and “focuses on proactive and preventative measures and interventions to support students and families.” This year, 15 officers will be dispatched to support elementary and secondary schools.
Do your best in the new school year!
As we eagerly await the return of students to our classrooms, we recognize the immense responsibility that comes with fostering a nurturing learning environment. The Vancouver School Board and Vancouver School District are poised and ready to welcome our students back, ready to embark on another year of growth, learning, and countless possibilities. With renewed hope and determination, we look forward to a year filled with academic achievement, personal development, and the pursuit of excellence for all. Together, we will continue to inspire and empower our students, forging a brighter future for our community through education.
Sources: Back 2 School: Checking in with administrators, Back 2 School: Checking in with Food Services and IT, Back 2 School: Checking in with VSB’s Indigenous Education Department, Back 2 School: Checking in with Employee Services, Back 2 School: Checking in with Facilities, News Release: VSB schools ready to welcome school liaison officers, Seismic Mitigation Program