6 Culturally Relevant Educational Symposium On May 11 and 12, HRSB’s Diversity Team, Principals’ Mentor Group and Central Office staff volunteers hosted our first Culturally Relevant Educational Symposium. The purpose of each day was to engage principals and teachers in discussions and workshops around improving student achievement through critical consciousness, collaborative action and community engagement. The symposium was firmly anchored in the priorities of improving the academic achievement of all students, including African Nova Scotian, Mi’kmaq/Aboriginal and newcomers. Participants chose from a number of workshops lead by our own staff, including Diversity Team members, classroom teachers and administrators, as well as researchers, scholars and advocates. Presenters represented local, regional and Canadian contexts and included such groups as the Pine Tree Singers, the Delmore “Buddy” Daye Learning Institute, the Youth Project and Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey. Speakers also included Elder Bill Lewis, Elder Albert Marshall, Dr. Carl James, Terrylynn Brant and Patsy Paul Martin. Many voices and perspectives helped attendees look critically at the linkages between student achievement, well-being and equity. Each participant was asked to challenge their thinking to develop and enact plans for next steps within their schools. To kick off the day of learning, students from Highland Park Junior High School demonstrated a new approach to engaging in the Grade 9 Healthy Living Curriculum. First piloted at Oxford School, the new approach has the Healthy Living teacher ask students to divide themselves into groups by gender. From there, each group forms a circle and a trained facilitator leads discussions around topics outlined in the curriculum. This approach was initially created and piloted because male students were typically not accessing teen health centres. For the keynote, the students, along with Facilitator Moe Green, demonstrated a circle discussion about how they felt about the new approach to Grade 9 Healthy Living and their experiences within the school. They shared their perceptions and voices in a way that affirmed who they are and highlighted strategies for schools to become more culturally relevant and supportive of youth. The feedback on the students’ presence was overwhelmingly instrumental to the symposium’s success. What did attendees learn at the Culturally Relevant Educational Symposium? Check out #CRPinHRSB to see tweets and photos from particpants. Special thanks to the Diversity Team and the Principal Mentors Group who organized this important day of learning and sharing, as well as students from CHDH’s Film and Media class who assisted in capturing parts of the day on video. For more information on the symposium, click here. Goal 3: To Achieve Equitable Learning Opportunities for All Students An overview of the day from a student’s perspective. Thanks to CHDH student Andrew Adshade for producing the above video. Participant reflections. Thanks to CHDH students Kardeisha Provo and Mahalia Smith for conducting these interviews. Youth Voices Keynote Presentation (from day 2)