Catholic school board aims to create 'graduate of the future'

A group of students, staff and administration that are working on the process for gathering broad community consultation to help create a new strategic plan for the St. Clair Catholic District School Board, did an exercise on Wednesday January 9, 2019 to create the ideal Catholic school graduate. This included selecting the values and traits that would be most valuable for graduates. Pictured here from left are Zach McGlynn, student trustee from Ursuline College Chatham, Rob Wolicki, media communications teacher at St. Patrick's High School, Ryan Bagley, St. Pat's student, and Deb Crawford, director of education. Ellwood Shreve/Chatham Daily News/Postmedia Network

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The St. Clair Catholic District School Board is undertaking a strategic plan to help create the “graduate of the future” that will involve a lot of community consultation.

The board is using the online tool Thoughtexchange to enable students, staff, parents and the community-at-large to give their thoughts and feedback. The information gathered will be used by trustees and administration to help develop a new strategic plan that will guide student learning for the next five years.

Director of education Deb Crawford said students will be going into a future work world that will be impacted by technology such as artificial intelligence.

“There’s so many things they’re facing that are going to be new that we don’t even know, we can’t even imagine,” she said.

Thoughtexchange, which can be accessed online at www.st-clair.net/thoughtexchange, allows participants to share their thoughts independently and confidentially. Participants can also rate thoughts shared by others.

The technology also organizes the data to show what ideas and values participants have in common.

The Catholic board has had consultation for its previous strategic plans, but Crawford said, “not certainly to this degree. This is really a large-scale, broad consultation.”

The board is looking for participation from students in Grade 5 to Grade 12, along with all staff and parents, and the community.

“This technology is really helping us to engage broadly, widely and also deeply, because it’s going to give people an opportunity to really think, and think about what other people are thinking about, and rate those thoughts and set priorities,” Crawford said.

“This is an exciting time for St. Clair Catholic, as we begin the work of building a new strategic plan,” said trustee chair John Van Heck in a written release. “We want all our stakeholders to have a voice in this important conversation.”

Ryan Bagley, 16, a Grade 11 student at St. Patrick’s Catholic High School in Sarnia, likes the fact so many students will have the opportunity to give their input.

He said previous strategic plans have been “this nebulous thing (and the board) just told us, ‘This is what we’re doing and now we’re doing this.’”

When asked if he feels his opinion will matter, Bagley said, “I feel that I’m being heard. Definitely, being able to give my input feels very validating.”

Bagley, who is part of a working group of high school students, staff and administrators who have developed the process for creating the new strategic plan, believes using the Thoughtexchange tool will be appealing to students.

“It’s quick, you don’t have to fill out a giant survey where it’s lists after lists, question after question,” he said. “You can just go in, put in a few thoughts, rate a couple of (other thoughts) and then you’re done.”

eshreve@postmedia.com

@Chathamnews

 

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