Learning and Leadership Camp – Parry Sound

Today has just been a great day to ponder on what the last three months have been like and needless to say 🙂 they have been rich and rewarding.  Many events led up to the  First Nations, Metis and Inuit Learning and Leadership Camp at Tim Horton Leadership Camp in Parry Sound on March 9-12. I am starting with the camp because it was the most compelling experience of the year. It rocked 🙂 My colleague and I chaperoned a group of students and we couldn’t have anticipated how amazing the experience would be. The students were thrilled about the experience and didn’t know what to expect so anticipation along with excitement made for happy teens 🙂 I made new friends, learned new skills and I’m  very excited to continue a culture of inclusiveness at SMHS. What I observed mostly was that First Nation students who are in tune with their culture were very confident and outgoing and held a certain reverence for the elders. The first evening at the camp was particularly poignant listening to Cody McGregor and Lee Benson with their contemporary Aboriginal Music. Their openness set the tone for the rest of the week, as they were breaking barriers and challenging stereotypes on Type 2 diabetes and other social challenges using hip hop and other contemporary music.

Day 2 : What is your bundle?


Frankie Misner from the Social Work Services at Laurentian led the students through an exercise about “What is in your bundle” – that describes you to others. There would be follow up relating to “Opening your bundle” and at the end of the conference the students were each presented with a bag signifying their bundle. The students were encouraged to continue this exercise accumulating items that represent their culture.

Terry Sahanatien and his grandson from the Wahta Mohawk Territory shared very compelling stories and singing and dance. It was very vivid and breathtaking – filled with humour and life lessons. He spoke of story telling and teaching of the language and culture in the Longhouse 🙂  I still visualize the students enthralled with the composure of these two men, sharing stories with so much conviction. I captured this feeling of reverence on my way back after the story-telling, feeling an incredible sense of calm and humility.




Day 3:

Medicine Wheel Teachings: Walking in Balance with Janice St Germaine and her daughter, Christine King whose Anishinaabe name is Waubkuniikwe. This was a very compelling presentation on the Medicine Wheel and wonderful drumming and singing by Christine. This very fresh approach to the Grandfather Teachings appealed to the students who were interestingly left questioning themselves on whether they have clan names or spirit names. The evening ended with spiritual, social entertainment by Wahta Singers. I have since spoken to my students and what stood out mostly for them was the Wahta Singers.

Wahta singers

Thank you Senator Verna Porter-Brunelle from Metis Nation of Ontario and Elder Hector Copegog for your greetings at the opening of the conference and your well wishes at the end. A huge shout out to the Ministry of Education (Student Success/Student Achievement Team). Melissa Weyland, Education Officer – Student Success Implementation Branch, Joanne Leung – Senior Policy Advisor, Research Evaluation and Capacity Building Branch and Tom Steele, Student Success Education Officer from the North Bay and Sudbury office. Your assuring presence throughout the conference instilled in the students a sense of good leadership. Creating awareness, promoting student voice and breaking barriers at grassroots level! Wow!  Thank you also to the Tim Horton Memorial Camp in Parry Sound, Ontario. You guys were awesome! High fives for all the leadership skills you and your staff portrayed – conscientiously leading by example.

What a memorable experience for me and my students who benefited greatly from the conference. Super pumped to engage with them next week as we plan strategies on how to break the barriers as we strive for equity and inclusion.

Tim Horton Camp


Drawing Boundaries: How to Keep Your Blog from Complicating Your Life

Sharing just enough is sometimes inadvertently challenging ….. 🙂

The Daily Post

My name is Elizabeth Urello, and as far as I know, I am the only Elizabeth Urello in existence. This is great for branding purposes, but terrible for anonymity: I am highly Googleable. I often think that I would take more risks online if my name were, say, Elizabeth Jones. But it isn’t, so I’m pretty careful about what I choose to share online.

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How to Share Your Work with a Targeted Audience

Interesting stuff 🙂

The Daily Post

We’ve touched on similar topics in the past, from creating boundaries between your blog persona and real-life one, to keeping your daily life safe from online intrusions.

The great thing about having your own site is that with one click of the Publish button, you can reach the entire world. Or at least that subset of the world with an internet connection, a bit of free time, and a keen interest in knitting / vegan brownies / attachment parenting / haiku writing / [insert your favorite topic(s) here].

What do you do, though, when you want to keep that public stage open — but also share some of your work in a more discreet way? Sometimes you might feel like writing a more personal post than you do usually. Or you might want to get feedback on a work in progress you’re not entirely happy about yet. There are all…

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Awesome PD at SMHS!

Awesome PD at St Mary’s High School last week. The day began with a lovely prayer service led by Mike Kirby that was very inspiring, and very uplifting. Great way to start the day along with deliciously yummy apple cake prepared by Kristen Fitzsimmons. I attended a great presentation by James Beyer on Poll Everywhere, Kahoot and Zaption. I got some awesome tips that LC and I are excited to try out.  Really cool, interactive stuff. LC has since used Kahoot and who would have thought test review could be so interesting and interactive!   There were great tips and tools from Greg Ayrheart on iPads. Greg shared the following information in his informative presentation:

  • Students with SEA iPads who have executive functioning challenges, with training, show great improvement in their organizational skills.
  • Non-readers, with training, are able to use eText effectively.
  • iPads are very useful to download textbooks and Airdrop is a feature that should be more readily utilized.
  • When students use their iPads effectively in the classroom they become REAL users of tech.
  • Things for all student with technology include Nearpod app, eText and Edmodo sharing web site.

Brad and I are excited to use  Airdrop more effectively. Greg also said that he always asks his students: “How is your problem-solving going to be an asset to your employer?”

Becoming a Connected Educator

I try to improve on the job by attending four or five conferences a year because it provides me with the opportunity to reflect on my own practice. I’m also connected online through Twitter and other social media to stay connected to my personal learning network. By attending conferences I am balancing my face-to-face professional development with my online professional development thereby demonstrating to my students the act of being a constant learner. This ‘journey’ of securing a platform to share information could not have been possible without my colleague and mentor Kristen Fitzsimmons who shares the same passion as me for equity and inclusion. Kristen, being the Instructional Job Coach at St Mary’s High School, has patiently guided me through this process and she has consistently provided constructive feedback on my posts. SMHS is very fortunate to have Kristen in the very valuable role she plays in ‘coaching’. Her mentorship and guidance has inspired me to share the reasons why inclusion is the way to go.

Do you have tips for me as I continue my journey?


Coaching to Inclusion Meeting.

inclusion symbol

I was looking forward to going to London for the Coaching to Inclusion meeting because it’s always wonderful professional development. Unfortunately I was snowed in and couldn’t attend. I’m terribly excited to  collaborate with Charmaine Chadwick on the level of success implementing the Peer Mentorship Strategy at SMHS. Thanks to her and Kristofer’s inspiring workshop, we at SMHS are witnessing remarkable success using this strategy with a special needs student. The entire process is a win-win situation for the peer mentor and the special needs student who is showing remarkable progress in communication, increased peer interaction and increased independence. The process has greatly enhanced social skills for both the peer mentor and the special needs student. Along with exposure to typically developing peers, active approaches are being used in order to teach social skills and consequently the student is more motivated to explore communication apps so I’m very encouraged to continue with the approach.