South Slave school board wins gold for literacy

South Slave school board wins gold for literacy
SSDEC superintendent Curtis Brown, centre, and assistant superintendent Brent Kaulback accept their gold award from Marilyn Scott, chief of staff at Centennial College in Toronto and one of the jury panel members.Photo: SSDEC.

The South Slave Divisional Education Council (SSDEC) is once again being recognized for its successful literacy program, winning gold for education at the recent national Public Sector Leadership Awards.

The awards, handed out by the Institute of Public Administration of Canada (IPAC) and Deloitte, celebrate innovation and excellence in the public sector.

SSDEC took home the top honour for its groundbreaking Leadership 4 Literacy initiative, which has boosted student success in the region and resulted in leading edge Aboriginal language instruction in the country.

Though students in the South Slave were already achieving better academic results than other NWT school boards, nearly half were below the Canadian standards for reading and math, which prompted the initiative to bring students up to the norm.

What followed was the creation of valuable community partnerships and a new approach to Aboriginal language instruction that have resulted in numerous awards since the program’s inception.

“Several schools have seen a remarkable turnaround in enthusiasm, commitment and results, and the program has been embraced, adopted or adapted by several other jurisdictions,” states the awards website. “Importantly, this program has helped the South Slave Divisional Education Council develop new tools, embrace technologies (smart boards) while applying other evidence-based techniques in Aboriginal language instruction and assessment with impressive results to preserve the indigenous languages of the South Slave region.”

The award was accepted in Toronto in February and marks the first time that both a school board and an organization from within the Northwest Territories have won an IPAC leadership award.

SSDEC superintendent Curtis Brown and assistant superintendent Brent Kaulback accepted the awards on behalf of the school division, though Brown remarked that the entire region deserves to share in the recognition.

“Our staff, DEAs and council members do an incredible job and deserve to be recognized for their success. Our administrators deserve credit for having courage and taking risks in order to ensure a better lot for staff and students. Our teachers, parents and students need to hear about and see this award as a testament to their hard work and our collective improvement,” he said upon receiving the award.

Both he and Kaulback noted the spinoff benefits to Aboriginal language promotion in the region – an aspect highlighted by the awards committee in making its selection.

Most recently, representatives from the Nunavut government were in the South Slave to learn as much as they could about modelling the Leadership 4 Literacy program in their own classrooms.

“Our improvements in English literacy have spilled over to new techniques in Aboriginal-language instruction with very promising results,” Kaulback said.

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