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Board Prepares to Welcome Syrian Newcomers
Board Prepares to Welcome Syrian Newcomers
Posted on 02/25/2015

ETFO/UCDSB Workshop Provides Educators with Techniques to Welcome Syrian Newcomers

(Kemptville) – On Monday, sixty educators with the Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB) attended a workshop entitled Welcoming Refugee Children and Their Families into Our Schools, sponsored jointly by the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (EFTO) and the board.

The workshop, held at the North Grenville Municipal Centre, taught administrators, teachers and support staff about a number of caring techniques to assist them in welcoming potential Syrian newcomers to their schools. The purpose of these techniques is to remove barriers and ensure students have the tools they need to succeed at school and beyond.

Some of the techniques included:

• Posting individual pictures of students on the classroom wall, complete with their names, to make it easier for newcomers to connect with their peers.

• Translating key portions of the school newsletter so that Syrian families know special events (i.e. Pizza Day) are occurring.

• Being mindful that Syrian newcomers could react in different ways than Canadian students to common events such as fire drills. Letting families know ahead of time when a drill is happening may help.

• Connecting a newcomer with a “school buddy” – a classmate they can go to in case they need help. Better yet, rotating the child through different classmates so they get to know their peers.

“I think the presentation today was inspiring and it provided us with some hope and some very valuable tools to deal with the changes coming to many of our communities,” said Jennifer Strickland, a teacher at Chimo Elementary School.

The workshop also reviewed online resources educators can use to help newcomers succeed and provided tips on how to approach instruction.

“ETFO has always been at the forefront of meeting the needs of teachers in the classroom,” said Diane Dewing, president of the ETFO Upper Canada Occasional Teacher Local. “We offered this workshop to ensure they had the resources and the skills to equip themselves to support Syrian newcomers in the inclusive classrooms we believe in.”

“Our goal is to assist public elementary teachers to identify and support the learning needs of these students,” said Erin Blair, ETFO Upper Canada Local president. “This workshop was just one of many ways in which ETFO helps its members grow professionally. We are pleased to have co-sponsored today’s workshop with the Upper Canada District School Board for teachers, UCDSB system staff and administrators.”

“We’re glad to partner with ETFO in this initiative as we work to create a welcoming atmosphere in our schools to help these new students succeed,” added UCDSB Superintendent Tim Mills.

For more information, please call:

Tim Mills
Upper Canada District School Board
1-613-933-9626 Ext. 4271

Diane Dewing
ETFO Upper Canada Occasional Teacher Local

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