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Jennifer AdamsIt's with mixed feelings that I write my final blog as the Director of Education of the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board. As hard as it is to leave, I know it’s the right time for two reasons: first, I still feel as passionate about the work as the day I started; and most importantly, the school district is in great shape to move forward with a new Board and a new Director.

I've enjoyed many wonderful opportunities throughout my career in education, both in this district and in my former district in Thunder Bay. I began my teaching career as a Core French and French Immersion teacher at an exciting time in the mid 1980s, when French as a Second Language (FSL) was exploding across the province. Today, that excitement still exists. I'm so proud that the OCDSB is renowned as a leader in FSL instruction. We have vibrant Core French programs from grades 1-12 and the largest immersion program in the country. Recently we moved to all four and five year olds beginning their schooling experience in our 50/50 bilingual program. We were the first school district in the province to offer the Diplôme d'études en langue française (DELF) to students in grade 12, an exam that evaluates French proficiency skills. This work reminds me of why I began my career in teaching so many years ago.

As an elementary school principal in my former district, I learned about the important role school leaders play in working with staff to meet the needs of all students. I am humbled by the work our principals and vice-principals do with their teams every day in our OCDSB schools. Compared to when I was in the role, the needs of our diverse learners are far more complex. And yet, our leaders find creative ways to meet these needs.

In my late thirties and as a new mom, I moved into the role of superintendent for five years in Thunder Bay, then in the OCDSB in 2005. I was privileged to work in Curriculum Services in both districts. Again, it was an exciting time, as international research on school improvement planning, high quality instructional practices and professional learning communities was emerging. The Ontario Ministry of Education played a prominent leadership role at the time, establishing the Literarcy and Numeracy Secretariat and moving the needle for learning in Ontario as evidenced on international assessments. At the OCDSB, we asked ourselves the very simple question: What does good teaching and learning look like in kindergarten to grade 12? We introduced the instructional coach model, recognizing that teachers needed the opportunity for school-embedded learning with peers and their leadership teams. I’m proud to say that we have shared this model of professional learning with our partners in Sweden, France and South Korea, as well as other countries around the world.

Eight years ago, I began in the role of Director of Education. In spite of an entire career in education, including many years as a superintendent, it was a steep learning curve. I am now more aware of the important role that locally- elected trustees play in public education. The research is clear that in school districts where political and administrative leaders have common goals, students thrive. At the OCDSB, that has been my experience.

So what is our shared legacy emerging from the past eight years? The OCDSB now has a vision for student learning. Seven years ago, a community process identified 10 characteristics and skills for our graduates when they leave us and go on to college/university, the workplace and/or community living. The OCDSB Exit Outcomes help our students be productive employees, engaged citizens and, most importantly, happy and healthy individuals. Google Education 2030 and you will see a long list of global organizations that identify this skills-based approach as the future in education. The OCDSB is ahead of the curve.

As I leave this role, what am I the most proud of and what will I miss the most? - the 10,000 people in the OCDSB who commit every day to supporting directly or indirectly the 73,000 very diverse students in our care. Our staff includes administrators, teachers, custodians, office staff, educational assistants, early childhood educators, psychologists, social workers, speech pathologists as well as our departmental managers and their teams. 

Looking back, I have many images of the magic that happens in our OCDSB schools and in schools across the province. I will share one story that epitomizes the work we do. While visiting one of our secondary schools, I dropped by a class for newcomer students with limited prior schooling. These students often come directly from war- torn countries or refugee camps. In the classroom, I saw 20 students, from many different countries with a wide range of language, religious and cultural backgrounds. Their only commonality was trauma. And yet, the classroom was a happy place. The teacher was doing a lesson on literacy skills; the students were working in pairs preparing short anecdotes to share with the class using their developing English skills. Several students approached me to say how happy they were to be in their school and to be beginning life in Canada. I left the school reminded of the important role we play in public education.

As I leave a career I have truly loved, I want to thank all of you who contribute to making the OCDSB a great place for students to grow, learn and be well. 

Sincerely,
Jennifer

 

 

OCDSB Farewell Tribute to Director of Education, Dr. Jennifer Adams

Jennifer & Mostafizur
Jennifer & Lynn

Jennifer, Isaac & Samantha

Contact Us

  • Jennifer Adams

    Director of Education

    613-596-8211 ext.8490
    Executive Assistant - Marie Bulgin 613-596-8211, ext. 8490
    Administrative Assistant - Kim Young 613-596-8211, ext. 8490
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