Annual Gathering 2022 - Friday Specialist Conferences

Research reveals that the best professional learning opportunities are active, collaborative, role-specific, and build in time for ongoing support during implementation.

With this aim, day two of the Edvance Annual Gathering provided interactive, role-specific specialist conferences led by experts in a variety of topics. Read on for information about the specialist conferences offered.


9:00 am – 10:15 am      Session 1 

10:15 am – 10:30 am     Break

10:30 am– 11:45 pm     Session 2 

11:45 pm – 12:30 pm     Break for Lunch

12:30 pm – 1:45 pm      Session 3 

1:45 pm – 2:00 pm        Closing Circle/Reflection


Conference Topics

Choose from one of the following specialist conferences:

Flourishing for All: Engaging Community and Creating a Culture of Belonging

Student Support Services with All Belong 

Anchoring Identity: A Tool for Developing Curriculum Focused on Gender, Relationships, and Sexuality 

Assesscapades! Adventures in Assessment as, of, and for Learning through Conversations and Observations 

A Two-Eyed Approach to Indigenous Education 

Core French: Structured for Success

Science of Reading- Not a Swing, but a Shift!


Flourishing for All: Engaging Community and Creating a Culture of Belonging

Facilitators: Tia Gaines, UnifiEd, Director of Stronger Together Partnerships and Lynn Swaner, ACSI Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer, Cardus Senior Fellow

Location: In person at Redeemer University, Ancaster or option to join remotely on Zoom.

As we consider educational flourishing, the question arises of not just how flourishing can be nurtured in schools, but also who gets to flourish. Jesus’s invitation to “life in all its fullness” (John 10:10b) is intended for all in our schools and communities, just as Christians are called to love our neighbors as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:37-39). This vision of “flourishing for all” requires three key efforts: first, fostering cultural humility as educators, by examining our biases and adopting a posture of learning; second, developing culturally responsive pedagogy and practices; and third, extending ourselves beyond the school walls to engage our communities in authentic and collaborative ways.

Through discussion, reflection, and action planning, participants will develop practical strategies in these areas—with the goal of shaping our schools to become places where students and educators alike are equipped and empowered to navigate our diverse world with love and truth


Student Support Services with All Belong 

Facilitator: Sara Pot, Communities of Belonging Liaison at Edvance

Speakers: Pam Maat and Lisa Dekker of All Belong Center for Inclusive Education

Location: In person at Redeemer University, Ancaster or option to join remotely on Zoom.

How does your Christian school community support students with disabilities and specific needs?  Christian school educators, and administrators are invited to join All Belong inclusive education experts Pam Maat and Lisa Dekker to learn together why student support matters and what that support looks like in our schools. Drawing from ideas introduced at our 2019 Gathering, we will work with the See, Think, Do framework and explore helpful ways to support our students in their academic and social-emotional learning. Part of our day will include round table time to share best practice and discuss current challenges facing our students and staff. 

We encourage schools to bring a team of educators across grades and subjects to promote discussion and collaboration within the school community.


Anchoring Identity: A Tool for Developing Curriculum Focused on Gender, Relationships, and Sexuality 

Facilitator: Darren Spyksma, Director of Learning at Society of Christian Schools in British Columbia

Location: In person at Redeemer University, Ancaster.

The impact of gender, relationships, and sexuality on school communities is diverse and complicated. This session is a working session designed to work as an extension of the ongoing work a school community is doing in establishing a way of being around challenging conversations. It is designed to assist school staff in developing a place-based, comprehensive, K-8 approach to learning about gender, relationships, and sexuality.

Time will be taken at the beginning of the session to frame a theologically sound, practical set of guiding principles to guide the curriculum work. By building a scope and sequence based on Big Ideas and Conceptual Understandings, staff will develop the foundations necessary to design lessons that are integrated into Bible, Language Arts, Science, and Health. In this session you will find a learning process for staff development and a framework from which to build, reimagine, and iterate.


Assesscapades! Adventures in Assessment as, of, and for Learning through Conversations and Observations 

Facilitator: Anneke Gretton, Vice Principal of Learning at TDChristian High School

Location: In person at Redeemer University, Ancaster. 

Assessment gets a bad rap as a dreary, distasteful, but necessary evil. But what if your assessments could build rich relationships with students and deepen student learning? This workshop will focus on how conversations and observations can be used to inform instruction, relate to students, and promote meaningful student learning. But we won’t just talk about great assessment in this workshop: we will dive right in! By the end of the day, you will have a complete assessment tool tailored to your work and ready to use on Monday.

Speaker Bio: Anneke Gretton serves alongside a fantastic team at Toronto District Christian High School as Vice Principal of Learning. During her M.Sc. in Physics Education Research, Anneke researched strategies for improving physics TA’s professional development experience. Her love of practical professional development has continued to grow as she taught math and science at Chatham Christian School and King’s Christian Collegiate, and in her current role at TDChristian.


A Two-Eyed Approach to Indigenous Education 

Facilitator: Melody Crow, First Nation Educator

Location: In person at Northumberland Christian School, Cobourg, ON

Time: 9:00-3:00 (lunch is provided)

The Northumberland Christian School staff invite you to hear from Anishinaabe Knowledge-Keeper, Melody Crowe, as she shares teachings from an Indigenous worldview. Melody works as a consultant with the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board and is an expert at guiding educators. We are honoured that she is willing to make time for us! Participants will have an opportunity to discuss the concept of Etuaptmumk or two-eyed seeing, where curriculum is presented from both a Western worldview and an Indigenous worldview. This is an excellent opportunity for Christian educators to have their questions answered and their hearts aligned with the important work of Truth and Reconciliation in the classroom.

PLEASE NOTE: location for this session is not at Redeemer


Core French: Structured for Success

Facilitator: Amanda Joubert, Senior French Teacher at John Knox Christian School Oakville and George Petrusma, Principal at John Knox Christian School Oakville 

Location: In person at Redeemer University, Ancaster. 

This workshop unpacks some key components that contribute to a successful core French program based on the experiences of Amanda Joubert (a core French teacher with 13 years of experience at John Knox Christian School in Oakville) and George Petrusma (current principal of John Knox Christian School). The workshop includes a discussion on the structural design of the core French program within the school program as well as some other important pieces that help facilitate success. This workshop is a good opportunity for administrators and French teachers to find ways that they may be able to adapt the program in their school to increase its effectiveness. 



Science of Reading - Not a Swing, but a Shift!

Facilitators: Lisa VandeKuip: Learning Resource Teacher at Beacon Christian School, St. Catharines, Doreen Breukelman: Grade 1 at Trinity Christian School, Burlington, and Jacquie DeRaaf: Reading Support at Trinity Christian School, Burlington

Location: In person at Redeemer University, Ancaster or option to join remotely on Zoom. 

Science of Reading - not a pendulum swing but a purposeful shift!  The SoR is a multi-disciplined body of research, established and growing for decades. However, it is gaining new traction here in Ontario as teachers and leaders seek to strengthen literacy success in all students.  As presenters, we are excited about what we are learning ourselves and what we are observing in our students!  

Whether you know a little or a lot about the SoR, you are invited to join us for:

  • Core learning and review of what the science of reading tells us about how we learn to read
  • Affirmation of what qualified and caring teachers are already doing well, and positive, guilt-free encouragement to consider where the shift might begin in your classroom. 
  • Practical ideas to support application of SoR principles, including helpful resources for: screening and implementation, phonemic awareness exercises, ideas on how you might implement a Sound Wall, and personal examples of our own learning journey in this area.
  • Opportunity to share/discuss/collaborate with grade level colleagues about where you are and where you’d like to go with all that you are learning.

Five-pillared structured literacy instruction is helpful to all and essential for some.  While we know it is beneficial throughout all grades, we can best speak to our experience at the primary level.  For that reason, attendance is recommended for K-Grade 3 teachers. As well, if you are brand new to SoR, we encourage you to view the August Bootcamp workshop entitled: Science of Reading and the Right to Read: Moving from Right to Reality. A link will be emailed to participants before the conference.