School Principals Focus On Literacy Initiatives

Today, the Ontario Principals’ Council welcomes more than 800 principals and vice-principals to Toronto for the 8th annual Odyssey Conference, the largest leadership symposium of its kind in Canada dedicated exclusively to the needs of public school leaders. Delegates from Ontario will be joined by colleagues from B.C., Alberta, Nova Scotia and PEI, and from several other countries including the United States, England, Australia and the Netherlands for The Leadership Community – Building Capacity for All. In addition, leaders from Ontario aboriginal schools, partners in OPC’s twinning initiative, will also attend.
As school leaders continue to examine ways to promote literacy in their schools, there has been a renewed focus on capacity building, whereby principals assist teachers to broaden their professional skills to become more effective curriculum leaders. When teachers increase their professional knowledge and practice, they in turn help students to perform better in
school. Building capacity will be the focus of this year’s conference.
Odyssey 2005 will provide an array of informative, insightful and practical workshops such as building successful collaborative teams, leading professional learning communities, sustaining professional growth in schools and using data to improve learning. In addition to dozens of in-depth workshops, the conference will feature four high profile speakers:

– Dr. Michael Fullan, former Dean of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto and current Special Advisor to Ontario’s Premier and Minister of Education
– Todd Whitaker, Professor of Education Leadership at Indiana State University and author of many books on leadership, instructional improvement, technology and inspiring teachers
– Bruce Kirkby, an extreme explorer who has worked with National Geographic on various expeditions
– Erin Gruwell, teacher and founder of a non-profit organization that funds scholarships for disadvantaged students and promotes innovative leadership methods.

“We know that the government wants to see a 75 per cent literacy success rate by 2007. Principals share that goal. The objective of this conference is to provide opportunities for school leaders to learn new skills, share best practices and develop the expertise they need to increase student achievement in their schools. That professional learning is then translated directly to
the school level, so that we can help all students reach their potential,” said Ian McFarlane, President of the Ontario Principals’ Council.
Following the conference, school leaders from Canada, the United States, England, Australia and the Netherlands will spend an additional day discussing major educational trends that are occurring, and challenges they are facing, in their jurisdictions.