OCDSB Appoints New Director of Education – Camille Williams-Taylor
October 2, 2018
The Board of Trustees has appointed Camille Williams-Taylor as the next Director of Education for the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board. Ms. Williams-Taylor will officially assume the role in the New Year.
“We are very pleased to welcome Camille Williams-Taylor to the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board,” said Shirley Seward, Board Chair. “Camille is a recognized leader in public education in Ontario, known for her creative and innovative leadership and her capacity to lead change. We are confident that our district will benefit from her extensive knowledge and commitment to equity, inclusion and human rights. Camille is passionate about bringing voice to students, staff and families to foster positive relationships and support student success.”
Camille Williams-Taylor has over 29 years of experience in education including provincial, post-secondary and public education leadership roles, and has most recently been a senior executive with the Durham District School Board since 2011.
“The Board of Trustees undertook a comprehensive search for a new Director and was fortunate to have several exceptional candidates. We felt confident that Camille has the skills and experience to support our commitment to learning, equity, well-being and engagement” said Seward.
“I am honoured to be joining the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board and would like to thank the Board of Trustees for this opportunity,” said Camille Williams-Taylor. “I am excited about the work this district has done and look forward to the opportunity to build relationships with staff, students, families, and community partners. Working together, we can build a vision for public education that ensures our students have the best learning opportunities in a safe and caring environment”.
“On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I want to thank current Director of Education, Dr. Jennifer Adams, who has provided incredible leadership to the district for the past 8 years. This district is well positioned for the future as a result of Jennifer’s commitment to student learning and strong instructional practice. We are so fortunate that Camille will have an opportunity to do some transition planning with Jennifer in the month of December before officially assuming the role of Director on January 1, 2019.” said Seward.
The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board is a dynamic, creative learning organization that fosters the achievement, well-being and dignity of every student. The largest school district in Eastern Ontario, the OCDSB offers a wide range of programs to 73,000 students in 143 schools. With an annual operating budget of almost $1B, the OCDSB employs approximately 10,000 teaching, administrative, para-professional and custodial staff. Working together, our employees do an exceptional job of supporting student learning and well-being. Please visit the Board website and follow us on Twitter.
The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board’s new director of education has been involved in equity and diversity initiatives at her current board that have included its first teacher census that asked teachers about race, sexuality and religion.
Another census scheduled to roll out next year at the Durham District School Board, where Camille Williams-Taylor is currently a superintendent of equity and inclusive education, will gather “identity data” from students.
Gathering data helps to inform decisions about how to differentiate and target the board’s programs, said Williams-Taylor, who has also been involved in measures to include different cultural perspectives on curriculum documents, such as one that focuses on Muslim perspectives, as well as an action plan to tackle systemic racism faced by black students.
“We’re trying to recognize that when we level the playing field, when the tide rises, all the boats rise as well,” said Taylor-Williams this week in an interview from Ajax. She is to begin her duties at the Ottawa-Carleton board early in December. “When we want to see impact, we have to get a goal and measure it.”
The census of teachers at the Durham board was an idea that came of conversations with its staff and community to get a clear picture of the workforce, she said.
The board’s approximately 10,000 employees were asked about 40 questions that touched not only on race, sexuality and religion but also questions of health and wellness, time spent commuting and career aspirations. (The survey found that staff was 89 per cent white and more than half were Christian.)
“There is a capacity-building component to understanding the data,” said Williams-Taylor. “This is not about counting people just to know, but to see the community.”
The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board is also preparing to collect identity-based data on students, with the help of the broader community, and has applied for funding for the initiative. The board has already committed to the project and plans to go ahead with it, whether it gets funding or not, said a spokeswoman. (The Durham board got a $175,000 grant from the Ministry of Education to conduct its student census.)
The numbers have often helped to underline inequities in the school system.
In 2013, for example, the Toronto District School Board released figures that showed black students were three times more likely to be suspended than white students in the 2006-07 school year. While black students make up only about 12 per cent of high school students at the Toronto board, they accounted for more than 31 per cent of all suspensions, according to the data. Indigenous students were even more likely to be disciplined.
Many black students are successful, but many have different experiences in schools because of their racial identity, said Williams-Taylor.
One of the issues that was identified by the Durham board was that black people are under-represented in science, technology, engineering and medicine. The board introduced a program called Tech Spark. The program, which offered session in coding and artificial intelligence, targeted not only schools, but also neighbourhoods with a higher proportion of black students.
Meanwhile, enhancing the curriculum to illustrate how teachers reflect different perspectives allows students to bring their voices and their community’s voice into the classroom, she said. In education circles, it’s known as “culturally relevant and responsive pedagogy.”
There’s a focus on essay-writing in the early years of high school, for example. While teaching about how to write an essay and make clear arguments, one teacher asked students to write an essay about who they thought was a genius. Essay subjects chosen by students included Bill Gates, Michael Jordan and Michael Jackson.
“The teacher opened a space that allowed multiple perspectives,” said Williams-Taylor.