Superintendent plays an active role in Safe and Caring Schools

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By David RosEditor

Glenford Duffus doesn't just promote the Toronto District School Board's Caring and Safe Schools initiative, he also lives it.

The Superintendent of Education for the TDSB's North West 2 Family of Schools has not only worked with various teachers and principals for which he is responsible, but he has also taken an active interest in helping to make a difference in the lives of some individual students as well.

“Safe and caring schools always depend on a partnership and the involvement of many stakeholders,” Duffus said. “As part of our family of schools initiative, we value the caring adult in the building, and so I've asked all my individual principals and administrators to identify one student in their building that they would like to mentor and provide some additional support for and as a part of that process.

“I want to be involved as well as the superintendent, so it's not just passing off the directive to staff, but I have been involved with mentoring two students from two different schools.”

Duffus said that he met one of the students he currently mentors through a chance encounter prior to a meeting with a principal at one of the schools. On his way to the meeting, he encountered a student who was waiting in the office to meet with the principal for disciplinary reasons and struck up a conversation with that student.

“I said, 'I bet you are not proud of yourself and I bet that your mother and your father would not be proud either,'” Duffus said he told the student, who immediately agreed with him.

Following that conversation, Duffus said he asked the student if it would be ok if he could come and visit with the student from time to time and check up on how he is doing. After the student agreed, Duffus has built up an open line of communication with this student which has continued on even after the student had graduated and moved onto another school.

Duffus said that mentoring students such as this one has not only helped him to be grounded in dealing with other students, allowing him to see things from their perspective, but it has also helped him to provide them with an opportunity to reflect upon their actions and in order to help them to see both the positive and negative impact of some of the choices they make.

“It has helped me to be more closer aligned to the reality of our students,” Duffus said.“The fact that I was able to follow this kid to his new school and to check in with the kid and have some kind of positive response is a testament of the fact that there is some benefit coming out of it for the kids.”

According to the TDSB, the mission of the Caring and Safe Schools Initiative is “to enable all students to reach high levels of achievement and to acquire the knowledge, skills and values they need to become responsible members of a democratic society.”

The initiative not only focuses maintaining consistent disciplinary procedures, but also focuses heavily on educating faculty, students and community members on preventative measures as well.

Duffus said he believes that student mentorship can play a big role in helping to achieve this goal.

“I would like to see as many of our adults within our buildings take on at least one kid, and if we are able to accomplish that, it would be like a dream fulfilled for me,” he said. “if each adult can identify one kid that needs support, and make a difference in this kid's life, I think we will boast a lot of success, not only in this family of schools, but as a board.”