St.Matthew Catholic Secondary is one of only 10 Ontario schools to get the Premier’s Award for accepting and inclusive schools. The award recognizes school staff across the province that have done exceptional and innovative work in creating a safe, inclusive and accepting school environment. It recognizes schools that have demonstrated initiative, creativity and leadership in promoting a safe, inclusive and accepting school climate.
St.Matthew was recognized for its strong personal connections at the school that have ensured success. It’s a special education school that has a focus on supporting students’ academic and mental health needs. Students often have to break down barriers to their education at a young age and many struggle with anxiety and mental health issues. In addition, some students live on their own. To meet these needs, every student has a unique learning and living profile outlined in their Individual Education Plan (IEP).
Part of the personal connection sees each student get connected to an adult. The success of this approach shines through with increased graduation rates, increased credit accumulation and improved attendance.
Here are some of the programs at the school.
- The CCC project – Connected, Committed, Contributing:This project helps at-risk students become independent, giving them a voice in their own journey. The school works closely with community partners, such as the Children’s Aid Society, to help students create the best version of themselves by striving to overcome existing barriers without losing hope. A lead teacher helps set goals for school work, plan for positive mental health, and track the student’s attendance, engagement and progress in class.
- St. Matthew Strength Building Initiatives: A Sources of Strength team (students, staff and community partners) promotes connections between peers and caring adults, identifying strengths they can use to help others. Staff and students were trained in the program with students now playing a leading role. Students have become school leaders and have started to flourish socially and academically.
- Passport to Success: Near the end of each semester, data is collected to determine student progress for each academic credit. The information is charted, and a passport is created for each student, outlining the status of their credit by colour. Green means progressing well, yellow indicates some concern, and red means serious concern. These visuals help the students and parents understand student progress and what action is required for the next four weeks. With support from all staff and parents, a plan is put in place to guide students to success.
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