May 2023 Director’s Update from the Durham District School Board

Posted On Friday May 19, 2023
Durham District School Board Director's Update email header image with photo of Camille Williams-Taylor
Durham District School Board Director's Update

Dear Parents and Guardians,

I hope this letter finds you well as we embrace the warmth and beauty of the spring season. As we approach the final weeks of the school year, I wanted to take a moment to share some important updates and initiatives happening within our school community.

First and foremost, I hope you and your families are looking forward to the upcoming long weekend. It's an excellent opportunity for our students and their loved ones to take a well-deserved break, enjoy quality time together, and recharge before the final push toward a break for the summer months. Whether you plan to explore the great outdoors, engage in community activities, or simply relax at home, I encourage you to make the most of this long weekend and cherish the moments spent with your children.

As we near the end of the school year, I want to express my deepest gratitude for your ongoing support and engagement. Your commitment to your children's education and well-being is truly commendable and it greatly contributes to their success. I encourage you to maintain open lines of communication with your child's teachers and school administration through the remaining weeks of the school year as we work together to create the best possible learning environment for all our students.

As the summer months near, I would also like to remind our community of the Great Beginnings School Success Program available for incoming junior kindergarten students and current kindergarten students across the DDSB, operating for three weeks in August. Additionally, the Great Beginnings Early Years School Success Program for Black Students is available this summer for incoming junior kindergarten students. To learn more about these programs supporting your child’s development, visit our Summer Programs page.

This month, I am delighted to announce the launch of the Student Census, an initiative that aims to gather valuable information about our diverse student population. By participating in this census, we can gain a better understanding of our students' needs, experiences, and challenges. This data will enable us to effectively identify and address barriers to their success and well-being. We kindly request your support in completing the Student Census survey as your input is vital in shaping our future educational strategies and ensuring that all students receive the support they require. To complete the survey, please use the unique student ID code emailed to you earlier this month.

I am also delighted to share an incredible opportunity with you and your child – Ontario's Legislative Page Program, a prestigious educational initiative that awaits talented students who are eager to explore the provincial legislature in action.

The Ontario Legislative Page Program offers an unparalleled experience to approximately 150 students from across our province every year. This unique program provides participants with a firsthand understanding of Ontario’s Assembly and the legislative process, fostering their growth as responsible, high-achieving, and community-involved individuals. By interacting with key parliamentary and political figures, your child will gain invaluable insights into our democratic system. I invite you to visit the official website to learn more about the Page Program.

Additionally, registration has officially opened for Camp Rainbow Phoenix, an extraordinary summer leadership camp designed for youth aged 12 to 17. This incredible program, facilitated by PFLAG Durham Region and the AIDS Committee of Durham Region, aims to nurture and develop the leadership potential of our young learners while fostering personal resilience and promoting social change.

Camp Rainbow Phoenix is a truly unique initiative that offers our youth an unforgettable experience filled with personal growth, meaningful connections, and skills development. To learn more, please visit the official website at

On May 17, the Progress Pride Flag was raised at all 136 DDSB schools as well as work sites including the Education Centre, recognizing the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia. The Progress Pride Flag will remain raised through the month of June to respect Pride month.

The Progress Pride Flag is a testament to the advancement we have made as a society in recognizing and valuing the diversity that exists within our schools and nurturing a community where everyone has a place just the way they are. The DDSB is proud to participate in Durham’s upcoming Pride Parade to be held June 4 in Ajax. Visit to learn more about this important event.

Addressing recent issues of hate and harm

On May 15, at the most recent meeting of the Board, the public was evacuated by security and police. Comments that were yelled out or muttered were heard by some members of the audience, in some cases, or by the whole room in others. Some of these comments were homophobic, transphobic, and hateful. Other comments and behaviours were intimidating and harmful by tone or content. To be clear, the DDSB firmly rejects and condemns this behaviour.

We have a responsibility to the safety of all participants in our learning and working spaces, of which our boardroom is one, both virtually and in-person. On Monday, staff, students, and members of the public were made to feel unsafe as a result of the behaviours of some members of the audience. These behaviours exemplified hatred, intolerance, bullying, and harassment, and so, the public gallery was closed.

In my optimism that the audience would ultimately return to a climate of respectful decorum, I waited too long to evacuate the gallery. This resulted in harm, and for this, I sincerely apologize.

On May 23 and May 24, the meetings of the Board will be available for public viewing on a virtual platform. We are considering how to proceed with future Board and Standing Committee meetings in a manner that permits the engagement of the public while securing the safety of all participants. There will be further communication on this item.

Let us continue to foster a nurturing and inclusive community where every student can thrive. Once again, I wish you a joyful long weekend and a smooth conclusion to the school year.


Camille Williams-Taylor

Director of Education


Good News from the System

The past month was underscored by several good news stories. We invite you to check out the DDSB’s YouTube channel to learn more about the latest initiatives taking place across the DDSB.


Upcoming Dates of Significance

The upcoming weeks bring more Dates of Significance to the calendar. Reflective of our vibrant and diverse community that continues to shape our identity, the DDSB recognizes the upcoming month of June as Pride Month, Italian Heritage Month, Portuguese History and Heritage Month, Filipino Heritage Month, and Indigenous History Month. Other upcoming dates include:

Monday, May 22 – Victoria Day: The observation of the birthdate of Queen Victoria.

Saturday, May 27 – Shavuot: A Jewish holiday commemorating the spring harvest and the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai.

Sunday, May 28 – National Accessibility Week: A celebration of the valuable contributions of Canadians with disabilities and a reflection upon ongoing efforts to become more accessible.

Sunday, May 28 – Pentecost: A Christian holiday commemorating the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and other followers of Jesus while in Jerusalem.

Monday, May 29 – Ascension of Bahá'u'lláh: The observation of the passing of Bahá’u’lláh, prophet of the Bahá Faith.

Wednesday, May 31 – Red Shirt Day: As part of National Accessibility Week, wear your red shirt to show your support and celebrate the achievements of disabled Canadians.

Friday, June 2 – Ascension (Orthodox): An observance of the ascension of Jesus to Heaven, celebrated 40 days after the Resurrection.

Sunday, June 4 – Pentecost (Orthodox): Celebrated on the seventh Sunday after Easter, this observance is the final day of the Easter cycle and marks the day on which the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles.

Monday, June 5 – World Environment Day: A global event inspiring all to protect, preserve, and reduce the degradation of ecosystems.

Thursday, June 8 – World Oceans Day: An international day supporting the implementation of sustainable management and development goals and the protection of ocean resources.

Saturday, June 10 – Portugal Day: A commemoration of the passing of Portuguese poet and literary icon Luís de Camões.

Friday, June 16 – Martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev: An Indian commemoration that celebrates the life of religious figure Guru Arjan Dev who sacrificed his life for the Sikh people.

Sunday, June 18 – Autistic Pride Day: A global day that helps raise awareness and celebrates the similarities and uniqueness of people with autism.

Sunday, June 18 – Father’s Day: A celebration to all who have raised or are just beginning the journey of guiding children into and through adulthood.

Monday, June 19 – Juneteenth: A commemoration of the emancipation of enslaved African Americans.

Monday, June 19 – United Empire Loyalists’ Day: Commemorating the sacrifices of the first political refugees to arrive in Ontario.

Wednesday, June 21 – Litha: A Pagan holiday celebrating the summer solstice.

Wednesday, June 21 – National Indigenous Peoples Day: A day for all to recognize and celebrate the unique heritage, diverse cultures, and outstanding contributions of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples.

Wednesday, June 21 – Summer Solstice: A celebration of longer days and the official beginning of the summer season.