Director’s Update: Wishing You a Safe March Break

Posted On Friday March 10, 2023

Dear Parents/Guardians,

It is with great pleasure that I provide you with my first Director’s Update to Families. These updates will evolve over time and include my thoughts, important information for families and many exciting announcements and milestones that took place across the Durham District School Board (DDSB) over the past month.

Since starting as Director of Education two months ago, I have had the privilege to visit many schools and classrooms across the District. It was great to see the innovative efforts of school teams in providing learning for students from Kindergarten to Grade 12. One of my main priorities as Director is to focus our work as a system on the students we serve and to ensure that we support our staff. I try to highlight some of the incredible work I see with the Board of Trustees and those I speak to across the DDSB. I believe that it is critical to listen and be connected to the work of everyone throughout the District.

Across the DDSB, the past month was underscored by many good news stories that continue to reflect the DDSB’s efforts to uphold human rights and to create safe, equitable, and welcoming learning and working environments for all. On February 22, the DDSB celebrated Pink Shirt Day, an annual event that brings together the greater community as allies standing against all forms of bullying and discrimination. Schools also recognized Black History Month in many unique ways to honour, uplift and centre Black voices in our schools.

As we head towards March Break, beginning Friday, March 10, we are excited for the beginning of the spring season and the many key upcoming dates that will take place across the month and into April. We invite you to read below to learn more. I wish you and your family a safe March Break and we look forward to welcoming you back on Monday, March 20.


Camille Williams-Taylor
Director of Education


Interview with Parent Involvement Committee

I recently sat down for an interview with a Parent Involvement Committee parent member to discuss my return to the DDSB, parent engagement, race, mental health, as well as staffing shortages. I hope this serves as a bit more of an introduction of me to you.

Good News Stories

There is a lot of good news that takes place across the DDSB every month. Here are some of the many examples that have taken place.

  • Schools and workplaces across the DDSB recognized Black History Month and the many voices, past and present, to share knowledge and stories with all in our community. One such event was a SOAR: Sistahs Overcoming, Achieving, Rising panel discussion that featured six Black women who were nominated as part of the “100 most influential Canadian Black Women” in 2022. Students from Pine Ridge SS, GL Roberts CVI and Sinclair SS who are on their Black Student Unions or part of the Black Youth Peer Leader Group had the opportunity to attend.
  • Eastdale CVI student Bethany Findlay has been named a 2023 finalist for the Loran Scholarship among nearly 4,800 applicants. Canada’s largest undergraduate merit award on the basis of character, commitment to service, and leadership potential, Loran Scholars are community leaders who show a passion and commitment to serve.
  • Pink Shirt Day was celebrated across the DDSB on February 22. In an effort to stand against bullying, Pink Shirt Day reminds us of the importance of allyship and that we must always be ready to stand with each for what is right. Pink Shirt Day further underscores DDSB’s commitment to upholding Human Rights for all students and staff and to fostering learning and working environments that are safe, positive, and inclusive.
  •  O’Neill CVI presented the SpongeBob Musical, with 45 students taking the stage and many more working behind the scenes. Staff and students selected a musical that reflected their joy in coming together, creating together, singing loudly, and laughing uproariously through the power of theatre. Additionally, the diversity of the musical styles reflected the compositions of the musical characters and student cast.


Upcoming Dates of Significance

The upcoming weeks bring more Dates of Significance to the calendar with March Break also taking place from Friday, March 10 to Friday, March 17. The upcoming month of April is recognized as Sikh Heritage Month, World Autism Month, and Genocide Awareness Month. Other upcoming dates include:

  • Wednesday, March 8: Holi – A popular festivals in Hinduism, Holi is also known as the Festival of Colours and celebrates the divine love of gods Radha and Krishna.
  • Wednesday, March 8: International Women’s Day – A global celebration of the women’s rights movement with a focus on current issues including gender equality, reproductive rights, and violence against women. The 2023 theme is ‘Every Woman Counts’.
  • Tuesday, March 14: Pi Day – An annual celebration of the mathematical constant Pi, also known as 3.14. Celebrations include eating pie and pi recitation competitions.
  • Friday, March 17: Irish Heritage Day – Also known as St. Patrick’s Day, this is a global celebration of Irish culture and the arrival of Christianity to Ireland.
  • Monday, March 20: Spring Equinox – The First Day of Spring, signaling the return of sunshine, warmer temperatures, and blooming flowers.
  • Tuesday, March 21: Shunki-Sorei-Sai (Shinto) – Also known as Shunbun no Hi, this holiday is a Japanese celebration of vernal equinox day.
  • Tuesday, March 21: Nowruz – Also known as Iranian New Year or Persian New Year, this festival celebrates the beginning of a new year on the Iranian Solar Hijri calendar.
  • Tuesday, March 21: World Down Syndrome Day – An annual observance of Down syndrome, a condition in which a child is born with an extra 21st chromosome.
  • Tuesday, March 21: UN International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination – A United Nations led observance to eliminate all forms of discrimination. Held on March 21 in recognition of the Sharpeville Massacre that took place in South Africa on the same date in 1960.
  • Thursday, March 23: Ramadan Begins – The beginning of Ramadan, observed by Muslims worldwide. The ninth month of the Islamic calendar is marked by fasting from dawn to sunset.
  • Thursday, March 23: Atheist Day – An annual observance celebrated by those who do not believe in a higher power.
  • Saturday, March 25: Earth Hour – A global movement led by the World Wildlife Fund that encourages everyone to disconnect from all non-essential lighting for one hour in an effort to conserve power and help achieve climate change initiatives.
  • Sunday, March 26: Epilepsy Awareness Day – Also known as Purple Day, this date of observance was created by Canadian-born Cassidy Megan with a goal to encourage conversation about epilepsy, dispel myths, and to inform those who experience seizures that they are not alone.
  • Friday, March 31: International Transgender Day of Visibility – An annual celebration worldwide of transgender people that aims to raise awareness of discrimination faced by this community.
  • Sunday, April 2: World Autism Awareness Day – One of seven United Nations health-specific days, this internationally recognized day strives to create awareness and improve the quality of life of individuals with autism.
  • Sunday, April 2: Palm Sunday – This Christian holiday prior to Easter celebrates the beginning of Holy Week marked by the entry of Christ into Jerusalem.
  • Wednesday, April 5: Passover – Also known as Pesach, this Jewish holiday celebrates the Israelites escape from slavery in Egypt.