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Sudbury Catholic Schools Pilot Turning Points Project

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Teachers join trainers from the Learning Partnership to launch the Turning Points pilot project at SCDSB. Back row - Yvonne Dumont, Rick Carter, Trainers Judi Symes and Marni Angus and Kelly-Anne Lavallee, Joan Yawney
Front Row - D'Arcy Closs, Donna Rose, Tracey Adams, Allison Simpson and Sandra Brutto

December 9, 2009 - "After doing my research, I realized that the Sudbury Catholic District School Board is a board where the Turning Points project is really going to work well!" These were the words that Judi Symes from the Learning Partnership declared to the teachers invited to be a part of the pilot "Turning Points" project. On December 8, 2009 English teachers from St. Benedict Catholic Secondary High School and Marymount Academy joined Symes as well as Marni Angus from the organization The Learning Partnership. The Learning Partnership is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to championing a strong public education system in Canada with its partners through innovative programs, credible research and executive leadership. This group approached Sudbury Catholic last year to see if there was any interest in piloting their innovative "Turning Points" project. This project links essay writing with personal experiences and it helps students get to know more about their own values as it is a combination of character education and literacy which is aligned with Ministry of Education expectations. Catherine McCullough, Director of Education realized that this was an amazing opportunity as the Sudbury Catholic District School board was the only board in Northeastern Ontario approached to be a part of this initiative and gave the project the green light. The teachers met with the team of Symes and Angus to delve a little deeper into the process involved and learned that the students will be asked to write an essay relating to a turning point in their life through different class exercises that will lead up to the final piece of writing. Those students that are willing to share their work will then submit them for two different tiers of judging. By the end of the year, there will be an awards ceremony that celebrates the students and their winning essays. The Turning Points trainer, Judy Symes - a former Head of English for the Toronto District School Board, says that the students are asked to really scrutinize turning points in their lives as their own emotion can be a critical part of their learning. She believes that risk taking needs to happen for meaningful learning to occur. This is what is asked of the students involved in this assignment. "The essay writing involved will not change everybody's life, but for a lot of these students and teachers it is really, really special. It is very often transformational!" The teachers that attended this inservice walked away inspired to engage their students in this project in the upcoming months.

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