Bluewater District School Board

Bluewater's Celebrating Educational Support Professionals page

Celebrating Educational Support Professionals

Celebrating Educational Support Professionals
Posted on 01/11/2023
ECE working with studentECE working with studentAt the December 20, 2022 Regular Meeting of the Board, Bluewater District School Board (BWDSB) trustees learned about the vital roles that educational support professionals (ESPs) play in supporting students to reach their potential and achieve success.

ESPs include educational assistants (EAs), early childhood educators (ECEs), child and youth workers (CYWs), and staff members working in specialized positions.

In BWDSB, there are 285 EAs who are instrumental in ensuring the safety, supervision, as well as the medical and physical needs of our most vulnerable students.  Through coaching, mentorship, and support of individual needs, EAs enable students to navigate successfully through the day.  As part of a school’s special education team, EAs do so much more than meets the eye and serve students in a multitude of ways.  A key function is to ensure equitable access to programming for students with individual education needs. Members of the EA team across BWDSB work hard to ensure these students are supported and nurtured in their learning environments.  This additional support is crucial to a student’s ability to attend school and access learning.  An invaluable part of the school community, EAs also participate in school events, serve as a ‘friendly face’ that brings laughter and joy to many, provide social coaching to those who need it, and support individuality among students.  In the words of Trustee Tracy Lynn Atkinson, “It takes a big heart to shape little minds.”

The 89 ECEs in BWDSB work in junior and senior kindergarten classrooms applying their knowledge and expertise of early child development to create age-appropriate, foundational, and engaging programming.  In collaboration with the teacher, an ECE provides instructional programming that responds to our youngest learners’ strengths and needs in a relevant and engaging way to foster creativity, risk taking, and problem solving, while stimulating curiosity.  ECEs are critical to ensuring that BWDSB is a rich place to learn and grow for those starting their educational journey.

EA working with studentsBWDSB currently has four CYWs at the system level who collaborate with school teams to address mental health needs in classrooms.  These skilled professionals offer training and support for elementary students, including mental health advocacy groups, in the areas of early prevention, social emotional learning, mindfulness, grief and loss, and mental health literacy.  CYWs work to enhance the protective factors of students across the system and are assigned to schools over a 12-week period.  So far during the 2022 – 2023 school year, our small but mighty group of CYWs has supported 15 elementary schools, reaching over 4,000 students, sharing 272 lessons, and providing mental health services and leadership to 39 student groups.  The team will be reaching out to an additional 20 schools in BWDSB over the next few months.

ESPs are also hired to work in highly specialized capacities to support students. In BWDSB, there are two system-level specialized behaviour intervention student support workers who are part of a team deployed to schools based on need.  These staff assist students and educators in assessing student behavioural needs, aligning those needs with concrete strategies, and co-creating materials and supports.  Two outdoor education specialists work to connect learning expectations to nature.  Both of these varied and specialized positions contribute value to the students and staff in our system.

We thank our many amazing ESP members in BWDSB for fostering safe, accepting, and inclusive learning environments that provide education to all students.  You make our schools a better place to learn and grow!
ECE outdoors with students

Bluewater District School Board is located on the traditional land of the Saugeen Ojibway Nation, which is represented by the communities of Saugeen First Nation and Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation.
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