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Transition Team

Helping prepare for high school
Posted on 09/19/2018

(Windsor, Ontario, Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018) – Like many students, Amy Bensette can remember making the jump from elementary to high school to be “a real challenge.”

“I was shy,” said the St. Joseph’s Catholic High School graduate, “but I had a lot of caring teachers who helped me through it, and that’s why I wanted to become a teacher. They saw potential in me, and if it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be where I am now.”

Bensette and her colleague Laura Zuech are the WECDSB’s new Student Success Intermediate Transition Teachers. Their primary role will be to help alleviate some of the apprehensions students have about going to high school by making sure they are better prepared academically before they move up to the secondary level.

The challenges for some students are many:  a bigger building with more students, lots of brand new faces, heavier workloads and shorter deadlines, and the expectation to become more independent learners. Being better prepared, however, will remove some of the fears many students have about entering high school, they say.

By working with principals and other teachers, the duo will identify those Grade 7 and 8 students they anticipate may struggle with the transition by looking at their EQAO results and other assessments.

“Our primary concern is academic,” said Zuech, who has taught at both St. John the Baptist Catholic Elementary School and Corpus Christi Catholic Middle School. “We want to make sure these students are provided with the support in literacy and numeracy they need. We’ll work on bridging gaps for those students who may be lacking in key skills they need to be successful in high school.”

Helping students find their way will also be an important part of their role.

“We want to help them identify what their strengths are and guide them into that pathway that’s best suited for them,” said Zuech. “We need to look at them through an asset based lens and foster their God-given abilities.”

“Students need to start thinking about their future now,” added Bensette, who has taught at St. Anthony Catholic Elementary School and St. Anne Catholic High School. “We want to provide opportunities for students to explore all pathway options available to them and get them excited about some of the high demand professions in all areas, including trades and apprenticeship programs.” 

By making sure students are supported academically and on the right path increases the likelihood that they will have a more complete, fulfilling experience, they say. Sharing their own personal experiences with students will help make it more real.

“We’re that caring adult that’s supposed to make a difference in their lives,” said Zuech. “I loved high school. I got involved a lot. So we can empathize and relate to their experiences and see what we can do to alleviate some of those anxieties.”

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