Principal’s Statement on School Name Issue
September 6th, 2017
As has been widely reported in the news, the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario has put forth motion calling for school boards to rename any schools named after Sir John A. MacDonald, including our school.
As the Principal I am very aware that we as educators bear a responsibility to teach our students how to research facts, how to analyze and weigh perspectives, and how to use critical thinking in important societal debates such as this one over a historical figure.
While the public scrutiny provides an interesting angle, I believe the question before us all also provides an exciting educational and community challenge; an opportunity for SJAM students, staff, parents, and community members to provide valuable perspective on our cultural identity in the context of the debate about the person our school is named for.
In my experience, our SJAM students are capable of calm perspective and keen problem-solving that may help us all move forward towards a collaborative solution. While such school name decisions are not made at the school level, we know we will have a role to play. My administrative team has already begun work on how we can engage in this discussion with our students under our existing inclusive schools initiatives.
In term of the question for our community of “what will happen to our school name?”, the WRDSB has made the following statement regarding its approach:
“WRDSB is aware of the ETFO recommendation. We want ensure that our schools are safe spaces and inclusive of all students, staff and community members. A name change here is not yet under consideration, but our board of trustees has a policy on the naming of schools, and trustees will be keen to hear the views of our students, staff and community members in light of the recommendation. As a public board of education, it is important that we provide a safe space to discuss changing perspectives on Canada’s shared history and historical figures. This is an important topic that requires thoughtful dialogue with all of our partners in education.”
As always, if you have any questions regarding this, or any, school issue, please do not hesitate to contact me.