SMC Efforts Recognized by EQAO

(l to r) Back row: Jerry Ponikvar, former EQAO Vice-Chair , Danny Viotto, former Principal of St. Mary’s College, Bruce Rodrigues, EQAO CEO Front row: Joanne Mantha McConnell, HSCDSB Catholic Curriculum Co-ordinator, Dr. Bette M. Stephenson, Mary Korah, Lead Mathematics Teacher

St. Mary’s College (SMC) was one of twenty-seven schools in the province to receive the Dr. Bette M. Stephenson Recognition of Achievement from the Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) last week in Toronto.

Former St. Mary’s College Principal, Danny Viotto; Lead Mathematics Teacher, Mary Korab; and Catholic Curriculum Coordinator, Joanne Mantha McConnell were on hand to receive the engraved plaque, which acknowledges the school’s accomplishments in improving student achievement on the Grade 9 EQAO assessment in mathematics.

“We are pleased to receive this recognition from EQAO. Our school teams and administrative staff have worked hard to improve student achievement. This is validation of their efforts to date,” said Huron-Superior Catholic District School Board (HSCDSB) Director of Education, John Stadnyk.

Over the past few years, Board staff and St. Mary’s College staff have worked together to put in place a wide range of initiatives to assist students. EQAO results from all grade levels were analyzed to determine areas of need, under the leadership of Danny Viotto and current Principal, Larry Pezzutto.

“Our collective work to improve student achievement in Grade 9 mathematics has been based on using the collaborative inquiry model in all our elementary schools and secondary departments. This model helps us determine the greatest student needs and to implement specific, measureable strategies to address those needs,” said Pezzutto.

Skills required for the EQAO Grade 9 math assessment are embedded in daily math lessons. The use of evidence from EQAO assessment and a common language of learning goals, success criteria and descriptive feedback are assisting teachers and students in this process.

Pezzutto and others in the Board attribute students’ success in mathematics in part to the school’s initiation of the ‘Link Crew’ program. The program – the first of its kind in Sault Ste. Marie — partners senior students with Grade 9 students to ease the younger students’ transition to secondary school. The older students act as mentors when it comes to academic and non-academic issues. The Board and school felt ensuring a positive school atmosphere was important in creating a productive learning experience.

“We focus on the whole student, by creating an environment of learning that is integral to academic success,” said HSCDSB Secondary Curriculum Coordinator, Joanne Mantha McConnell.

St. Mary’s College continues to refine its approach regarding Grade 9 mathematics. Board staff and the school remain focused on providing an avenue for students to achieve success in both the academic and applied programs.