Holy Family helps lead at World Congress in Deep Learning

The Holy Family Roman Catholic Separate School Division has been on the cutting edge of “Deep Learning”, as the first school division in the province to take leadership in developing this form of 21st century learning for all Holy Family schools.

Recently a World Congress in Deep Learning was held in Vancouver, attended by Gwen Keith, executive director, and Lynn Colquhoun, and Holy Family was asked to be one of the emcees involved in opening the World Congress event.

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A child spoke on behalf of students, a teacher spoke on behalf of teaching staff, and Keith spoke representing administrators, and she noted, the author who helped develop the concept of Deep Learning, Michael Fullan, was in the audience right near the front.

“What we presented on how we’re doing with deep learning was highly approved. It was so exciting,” said Keith, noting there are seven countries involved in the organization, with 1,300 schools networked together.

She also pointed out that Holy Family is recognized across Canada and in these other countries for the work they are doing in pioneering the use of Deep Learning in schools.

The organization, New Pedagogies for Deep Learning, works with educators to change the role of teachers to that of activators of learning, using real-life problem-solving and helping students to identify their talents, purpose and passion.

“We need to give a lot of credit to Gwen, for a school division of our size to be recognized, and to open up a conference, is wonderful,” said Bruno Tuchscherer, Holy Family board chair.

Keith noted that now two more school divisions in Saskatchewan will be joining the organization as a result of the work that Holy Family has been doing.

“It’s getting to a good place for the kids for sure,” she said.

• In other school board business, the chief financial officer, Lisa Wonsiak, spoke about how Holy Family continues to be a Lean school division, as the Ministry of Education keeps tabs on how they are doing with being cost-efficient.

“In some ways, we’ve become even tighter and more efficient in the school division,” said Keith.

The lean efficiency report includes details on cost avoidance, and Wonsiak noted they have been able to save a lot with reduced travelling times for meetings or professional development, and in the use of software that was developed by a CFO of a school board in Alberta. Holy Family is only one of eight school divisions in Saskatchewan using this software.

“Lisa is a Lean expert. A lot of school divisions don’t know how to quantify their data,” said Keith, who pointed out a big piece to this is in the budget, and with payroll. “We are very mindful of how we do things.”

• The board also made plans for which trustees will be making presentations in local parish churches during Catholic Education Week, which is May 6-13, and they planned out some more details for the provincial annual meeting for the Saskatchewan Catholic School Boards Association to be hosted by Weyburn at McKenna Hall on Oct. 26-27.