The Keewatin-Patricia District School Board’s new Director of Education, Christy Radbourne, already has a list of priorities to tackle in the 2022-2023 school year – the first ‘normal’ school year in three years.

Radbourne stepped into her new role yesterday, the same day the students returned to the classroom in northwestern Ontario.

“It was a fantastic day,” said Radbourne. “The folks here are incredibly welcoming. Lots of messages and help, and it was a great day yesterday. I’m just really looking forward to working with the community and meeting staff, students, educators, families, caregivers and community partners.”

Radbourne brings over 20 years of experience in education to the role, and explains that she’s already worked alongside many staff members of the KPDSB over the last 10 years.

Prior to joining the board, Radbourne worked as a Student Achievement Officer with the Ministry of Education, helping the KPDSB develop learning plans and curriculums. She says this experience, as well as her over 10 years with the Lakehead Public School Board, is helping to give her a ‘head start’ in her new role, as she’s already fairly familiar with the region.

“In northwestern Ontario certainly, we have unique circumstances. That means we have great opportunities, but unique challenges as well. We have some new things happening and opportunities for innovation, and that’s what I’m really looking forward to. The staff here have a great history and capacity for innovation.”

Radbourne, who currently holds a Master's in Education and is working towards her Ph.D., says she’s identified two major priorities for the 2022-2023 school year – to re-engage students after the last two years of learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as addressing gaps in mental health.

“I’m looking forward to working to continue to re-engage our learners after the pandemic. We have some big gaps that we need to fill. And we have a real focus on mental health and well-being right now to really encourage that engagement. Those are some of the first year things we’ll be working on. Literacy is a real priority, as well as math.”

Thankfully, Radbourne notes that it should be a ‘normal year’ for students and staff this year. On September 6, Ontario’s Education Minister Stephen Lecce committed to families that students will remain in their classrooms without any disruptions through the entirety of this school year.

“It’s really exciting to see people again in person and rebuild those really important relationships across the community. There’s no better substitute to being in-person. We’re all very excited,” adds Radbourne.

Former KPDSB Director of Education Sherri-Lynne Pharand announced she’d accepted a position with the Lakehead District School Board for the upcoming school year in June, leaving the KPDSB to search for her replacement. Radbourne was selected and approved earlier this month.

The KPDSB and the KCDSB both have new Directors of Education this year after Nicole Kurtz stepped into her new role with Kenora Catholic earlier this week.