Continuing Education

 Show Transcript

Welcome to Beyond the Bell podcast, where you will get an inside look into school life. We cover school-related topics that support your child's education and well-being. As you listen along, we hope you'll gain insights for navigating school with your child and leave with a deeper sense of connection between school and home. Here's your host, Chantelle Quesnelle.

Chantelle: Welcome Simcoe Muskoka families. We're very excited to welcome you to our latest episode of Beyond the Bell. Today, I am very excited to welcome our guest, Brad Shoreman. Brad has been with our Simcoe Muskoka family since 1997 in the role of educator, vice-principal, principal. And now he's returned to his role of principal of Adult Continuing and Community Education. He has a love of sports and music, both a singer and a guitar player, player. Um And he's always been an advocate um in making education fun and thinking beyond the classroom with examples like high school hockey and the Monsignor Clair Cup, just to name a few. So we're very excited to have you. Welcome to the podcast, Brad. 

Brad: Thank you very much for having me. I'm excited to be here. 

Chantelle: So we're gonna be talking a little bit about continuing education, education, uh that might look a little bit different and the opportunities that are available to um current students as well, uh interested um potential students in our community.

Brad: Oh yeah. So it's really exciting to have a chance to talk about the world of Con Ed because it's very vast and uh there's a lot of opportunity for people, so it's good for people to know about and understand. 

Chantelle: Yeah. And, and I know we're kind of starting with some lingo there. So Con Ed, meaning Continuing Education and maybe you could just take us through Brad. What does continuing education look like at Simcoe Muskoka Catholic? What, what does that mean? 

Brad: So Continuing Education is uh, I really look at it as it's anything that happens outside of a regular school.

So we run programs from kindergarten to grade 12 and also adult programs. And so um, some focuses of boards are the adult programs only. Um But we really touch on a lot of different areas in our, in our board. Um So our, our kind of tagline is, “We do education differently,” so we're always trying to find different ways uh to help our students get on a pathway. Um And, and one of the things I always say is we have a moral imperative to help our students find a successful pathway. And if there's an opportunity or a program, uh that's possible, then we need to develop it and get it out there for our students and for our communities because we will really look at um that, that type of support for the community. 

Chantelle: Yeah. So a lot of kind of thinking about what the needs are of, of students and and of the community and trying to make that match by doing education a little bit differently and thinking outside the box or outside the classroom.

Brad: For sure. And just a little story what brought me into Con Ed.

So from my teaching days, um, um it was really interesting because I got into teaching because I was a struggling student and had a real hard time getting through uh high school and it was, if it wasn't for or uh a couple of really significant adults, I wouldn't have, I wouldn't have made it through. And university was a really different um thing for me and, and I really went for one year just to experience it and I love the atmosphere and, and I felt that the professors approach things a little differently.

And so I always had that in the back of my mind as, um, you know, I wanna be that teacher that can connect and reach out to the, to as many students as I can and try to give them an opportunity, um, that maybe they, they wouldn't have gotten a regular stream. So that's, that's sort of my background into it. Um I did win the award for grade 14 Student of the Year in uh 1990 I think was so… ‘91. So anyway, so I do bring that to the table!

Chantelle: Ya well that, you know, personal experience matched with that advocacy sounds like it makes this position a really meaningful one for you, Brad.

Brad: It really is. And um when we have programs uh that we get off the ground, and then we see the, the faces of the, of the students as they start, it, it can be really even emotional sometimes because we put years just to uh getting something started. And then when you, you finally see it come to fruition, it's, it's really exciting. And then when we see students cross the stage and graduate and in a time when they didn't think they would, it's very, very exciting. And um if you ever get a chance to come to a Continuing Education graduation, it's, it's really one of the best experiences you can have in education, 

Chantelle: I can imagine. Um So then let's think about the current labour market because you did talk about kind of thinking about the needs of the community and, and trying to find ways to, to match those needs and opportunities. So um what sort of things have you been thinking about lately in terms of the current labour market and how that impacts Con Ed? 

Brad: Yeah. So it's really interesting ‘cause in the past, I mean, we, we do adult programs and help, um, they're flexible ways of, of helping people get their high school diploma and, and that's been great.

Um We do night school and summer school, um as well. And so we're always trying to find what else are things that we can be doing. And um, obviously looking at some of the shortages in our, in our area and also know with the knowledge that um, students, you know, tend to move away from home and, and go to different communities and we have a lot of needs right here in uh Simcoe Muskoka. So um looking around at what those opportunities are and can be, how we can connect our students to those uh pathway ideas. And then how we can also, um some self serving things is, uh find employees for our school board and, and through different programs.

And so those, those are always things that we have in the back of our minds, and we do work with um, the Continuing Education School Board Administrators group front, it's called CESBA. And um we share a lot of ideas with cross boards. And so we might develop something that we share with other boards and other boards develop things that they share with us. And it's all about a a acommunity of like-minded educators working together to create pathways. 

Chantelle: So can you kind of paint a picture of like an example of how um something in the labour market has been identified? And then that path um to that career, that career path has been kind of developed through, through Con Ed. What's an example of that? 

Brad: Absolutely. So, um we've started a new sort of stream of, of programs, uh called employment training programs and some of these programs have been around for quite some time. So, uh for example, we have Aquatic Leadership and Camp Leadership. And uh those programs were really developed in partnership with some of our uh local recreation centers and clubs such as YMCA and City Barry City, Bradford, City of Orillia, to find students um routes to become lifeguards and uh swim instructors.

And so we've done that for quite a number of years. We also have camp uh summer camp counsellor programs, where um students go through their training programs to become camp counsellors. Those students also get uh high school credits for being involved in those programs. So we've been doing those for a long, long time. And then as we looked at some other streams of uh programs we can offer, we're, we're thinking, you know what really those are, those are employment training programs. People can become a lifeguard and that could be a lifelong occupation and people go into recreation and leadership and um running like some really big recreation programs.

Um so that we thought that's really exciting, and we do have um one of the coolest things is one of our teachers in aquatic leadership. Uh actually went through the program, um when she was in high school. So we think that's great. And we see some people that have gone through a Camp Leadership program are now the managers of these camps. So that's also very exciting. 

Chantelle: That's awesome. I just wanted to jump in for a second there, Brad. I'm thinking back to my time in high school, um and as soon as I could be a lifeguard, I was kind of ready to take on that training and, and do that and never really made that connection and, and maybe it probably wasn't available at that time in terms of how it can earn you, uh a credit. But thinking about all the things that you learn and those skills that you practice and implement. It really does make sense when I think about it. Um, Same with being a camp counsellor. I know I've talked about it on this podcast before.

But um growing up and, and working at camp Kitchi’ um in the summers was such a big part of, of my life and brought me to the career path I'm currently in and also gave me some really amazing summer work um throughout kind of post-secondary to be able to maintain jobs as a lifeguard, a swim instructor or, or working in camps over the summer. And, and that was really amazing to have that um pathway available. And I don't know, you talk to anybody that's, that's, you know, hired uh a camp, a camp counsellor and, and talk about so many transferable skills. So that's really cool to see.

Brad: 100%. Yeah, they bring leadership, and they bring, uh you know, just ways of engaging people. It's, it's, it's such a a a great um type of program to be a team leader and to learn how to work with others to come in from those backgrounds. Um So it's great and, and we actually have camps um all over the province. So it's really exciting that uh in the summertime, I get to go around and meet with all these people and, and our students get things running.

So that's, that's really exciting. Um And then some of the next things we've been developed that have started to link to these employment training programs is um personal support workers. So that's a program that's been running around the province um through school boards for about 20 years now. And we have spent at least 12 years trying to get it off the ground, and we started last year. And what we always try to do is work with our other um CESBA partners and, and we don't want to repeat what they're doing.

So Simcoe County Board has a PSW program for 19 plus our program uh students can start in grade 11. So it's really interesting. And the other thing we're doing is um a lot of our program’s virtual because we want to have students in very in different communities and be able to support those communities. So the new group that we have starting this week, uh there's three students in Bracebridge and like, that's perfect if we want everybody to come face to face three days a week um, it's gonna be really difficult for those things to happen. We probably could run a program right out of Bradford, but that doesn't serve the Parry Sound area, and Midland, Pennetang, and Collingwood. And so the way we're doing it um allows that to happen, and we're gonna have our first uh group of PSWS uh graduating uh within the next month, and it's so exciting. They started in February, most of them have already been hired um as a healthcare worker that they can do as a pre-PSW and they all, they all have occupations for as long as they want it.

Some of them want to uh go into other healthcare fields and will work as PSWs on the side to help them pay for your school, and others, they're gonna go into full time occupations as soon as they walk out of grade 12. It's really cool… so that’s exciting.

Chantelle: So I’m wondering, for for these types of ideas, whether it's the aquatics camp leadership or the PSW program, you explained. Um how if, if students that are already in our system, let's say their families are listening to this podcast, and they're trying to kind of make that connections or, or figure out what camps are part of that camp leadership program or, or how they might have their life guarding program kind of supported this way. Uh Where do they get that information? Like, how do they know how to put these pieces together with Con Ed? 

Brad: So it seems like old school, but we do have a website. So if you go to SMCDSB website on your uh computing device and you can look up programs, and you can look up Continuing Education and you'll find that um you know, in the past, uh it, it was for programs for people that struggled or needed to come back as adults or whatever and find different pathways. But a lot of students also reach ahead or find these different program pathways that are like, hey, I can see myself um in that kind of field, and we know that if a student sees a connection between what they're doing daily and what their uh career aspirations are, they're gonna be more successful. Absolutely. So, um yeah, so that's really a really great way. So, yeah, check out our website and, and look into the things that we have and uh it's pretty extensive, we have a small department that does, does a lot of different things.

Chantelle: Ya, it’s small but mighty. I’ve seen, I’ve seen you guys in action.

Brad: Ya, small but mighty!

Chantelle: Um ok, so that kind of covers a couple of the programs. But I wonder, you know, maybe there's um a couple more that we haven't talked about yet. Like the program for educational assistants and custodians and, and so maybe Brad, those are less on the st- like the younger student end of things and more on the adult side of things, I imagine. Can you tell us more about those? 

Brad: Yeah, so this is really exciting. So for a long time as a, as a principal and as you know, obviously, uh colleagues of uh, with principals in schools, uh there's a big shortage of educational assistants, and so we started talking about what, what are some, some things we could do? Well, um you can be an apprentice to become an EA. And so, and it was uh kind of a stream of uh employment that, that we weren't looking at as far as an employer goes. So we started our own E A apprenticeship program. Um It's, we started signing people uh just about a year ago, we have 65 fully registered eas and we have about another 80 that are in progress. Some of them need to graduate um from high school first. So we're helping them do that as they start their training. Um So that's really exciting and being very successful. Um There, there's an in, in school part part that needs to happen as well. And so uh we're having uh partnerships with uh a college that's being developed right now. I can't say who yet because it's, it's, we're waiting to get the final, uh you know, things signed with the ink on the paper, but they're really excited to be a part of it because the program is actually taking off in the province, and we have a lot of school boards that are um contacting us and, and, you know, want uh repeating the same sort of program.

And so it's super, super exciting. Um And um so yeah, so that one's, you know, pretty well established by now. And um once again, there's uh an application on the website and some de- details around that. And then our newest one that we're so excited about is the Custodial Training Program. So you had mentioned um you know, those two being more um geared towards adults and they both can be, but they also could be open to grade 11 and 12 students to get started. Um Cause the idea is that once again, if you see yourself wanting to be um a custodian, and then you can start doing some things in grade 11 and grade 12 that can help you uh work towards that career path.

And um we're right in the middle of um gathering student names for people that are interested or want to register for the program. So, on our website, um you can say, yeah, I'm definitely interested or I just want to have more information or, or be kept in the loop. The idea with the custodian training program is it's a five credit package. So you'll get two theory credits and three Co-Op uh, Cooperative Education credits, but most of the program is going to be hands-on learning on the job.

So, um, that part's really exciting. So it, it's like Cooperative Education. So it's not a paid position. However, at the end of the program, successful candidates will get an interview with our uh HR um, and Custodial Services team, and we'll have a really good opportunity to find, um, employment, and it could be part-time, it could be full time. Uh There's benefits and, and pension and like what a, what a great…

Chantelle: Wow!

Brad: … what a great opportunity, right? 

Chantelle: What a, uh um uh concrete link between education and employment in that you've built that into the process, um um itself. I, I'm curious, um, for those grade 11 and 12s, who, who might be interested, you said there's things that they could do already um towards that career pathway as a custodian. What are some examples of, of what that might be? 

Brad: So, um I was a Cooperative Education teacher for a long time, and we would always have students that are working um as, uh you know, supporting.  You can't really do the job of an EA or a custodian, but you can support and do a lot of the pieces that they can do and most importantly, learn from the, from the people in those roles and see if you like it, and see if that's something that you can see yourself in.

So through grade 11 or grade 12 Co-operative Education, you can go into a placement like that. And as far as the um, especially the apprenticeship, uh apprenticeship hours get counted from your past or current experience. So, for example, if you're in grade 12 and you're in a school working, um doing Co-operative Education placement, working with uh an EA and then if you, uh we sign you at the end of the year as an apprenticeship, all those hours of experience, count towards your apprenticeship. Um And we do have one student that is um signed up through OYAP, that's the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program, and that is for people that um they can sign that document before they graduate. And once again, you're working at all the skills and aptitudes and attitudes and, and learning about that position. And the idea is that you would graduate grade 12, and then you'd kind of get fast-tracked into the uh completion of the program. And so custodial training will be very similar, like there'll be set hours that you need to do on the job. Um But it's mostly learning from the experienced um uh custodians to see if you like it and to test it out and see if your, if your skills fit with those uh with that uh occupation, and then the training we would do would help you uh finish off and become uh at least qualified and set up to apply for a position. 

Chantelle: Ya and you know, I was thinking back to the slogan you mentioned earlier and in terms of doing education differently and thinking about what type of feedback have you got from graduates that have really made that very explicit link between what they're learning, and moving into that career path. 

Brad: Well, I mean, we, it it's, it comes uh from a lot of different places, I mean, because we have different programs and different ways of doing it. And it's just like I said, when you see that graduation, and you see the people crossing the stage and, and a lot of times thinking they, they, they weren't gonna have a chance to, to graduate from high school. And one of the really neat things is over time. We, we used to take a lot of data around. Um, what, what, why are you doing this and why, why is this important to you? And most people are like, you know what? I just want to have it. I just want to have my high school diploma on my name. Sometimes it's for employment, but most of the time they weren't thinking of going past that. But at that graduation day, most of our graduates have changed their mind and now have other pathways that they, they now see themselves linked to, and they could be going to colleges or universities or an apprenticeship or a different job or a promotion or, but it's just, it opens those, uh, those doors um, and so, you know, with our first PSWS, um, becoming, uh, graduating in the next month or so, they're already being, they don't even know this yet, but they're being invited to a conference in Toronto where they can discuss their, um, the impact that this has had on them. And for some of it, it's, it's massive to be able to leave high school already qualified for a full time position is, is really cool, right? So, no matter what you do with it, it's gonna be, uh, it, it, it doesn't go away, those kind of training and that kind of experience. 

Chantelle: Yeah. And I know, you know, we've, we've expanded the podcast, the podcast to kind of go beyond topics related to, to student mental health and wellness. But, you know, as you're talking there, Brad, the, those links are just so obvious in that sense of accomplishment and purpose and hope, um, and connection to those opportunities and belief in self-confidence and um self efficacy.

I just, um, I think that's really, really amazing that those, those doors and those possibilities are getting opened and I'm really thankful that that you're on this podcast so that maybe families that weren't aware of, of the possibility through our school board can, can now learn a little bit more about it when they listen to this podcast and follow up with the website. 

Brad: Yeah, absolutely. And, and that is really the, you know, the, what's got all this started and, and keeps us motivated is looking at those people that, um, for some reason aren't being successful or, um, we just know they need another way or uh some more tools in their toolkit or a hand up or whatever it is, right? And, um, and that really engages us to help, um, people find a pathway and to some employment or at least to some success in their life. And that, that does really help mental health, and people feel better about what they're doing, why they're getting up every day and why they're being engaged in their uh in the program that they're in. 

Chantelle: Absolutely. I've heard at times, Brad that, that this whole process becomes, or the graduation at least, has become a family affair. I'm wondering if you could tell us a story about what that means.

Brad: There, there's so many amazing stories from our graduation and every year we have people from our staff that say, “You know what, I'm going to come just to, for the beginning and I can't stay long,” and then they don't leave because what you see is just incredible. And um, we've had some uh a few times, but last year in particular, we had an um, a gentleman that was starting the program and he left school early and, and had some difficulties, and he was working with one of our teachers on becoming a graduate. And then his mom said, “Hey, you know what, I never got my diploma.”  And so the teacher’s, like, “Well, I can help you.” And then they started working together, and the dad was like, “You know what? I went to college as a mature student, and I never got my high school diploma.” And so there you go. Now there's three of them working together and motivating each other and the teachers there walking them through it. And, um, yeah, last year, um, all three of them crossed the stage at the same time for their graduation. And, um, their other son was graduating from one of our high schools the next night. So we have pictures of the four of them, uh, like, just, just amazing, right? And, and we have so many, um, stories like that, like, we've had teachers go out, um, and shopping for graduation gowns with that - it was the daughter, the mom, and the aunts that were all going shopping together and our teacher went with them. So it's, it's really, it's really cool. And, and, uh, yeah, and we, we talk about, you know, just trying to help different people find different ways of getting there. 

And, uh, I was talking about an example, we had a student that - a former student, that had a lot of different experiences with school. And he wanted to be in the military so bad and couldn't find his, oh, his way to get those minimum requirements. And, um, he signed up with us and I went to, I, I drove around Simcoe County meeting with different places that he went to school. He was now 35 and finding he was only one credit short of joining the military, and he now had five kids and was just, he just wanted it so bad because he felt that was his calling and that was the way he could support his family. We helped him get that final credit, and he joined the military and um just like a little, you know, success story. 

So we say that we do education differently, right? So we're always trying to find ways of getting people where they want to go.

Chantelle: Right? So whether it is going to visit camps and making those connections, thinking about the labour market and, and the needs of the community and, and creating pathways for current high school students or adult students to, to match education and training to a career pathway, to building interviews into an education program like you mentioned for the um custodian program, um to driving around the region, pulling pieces of information together to support a student in graduating. Um That's quite astounding Brad. 

Brad: Yeah, it's all part of what motivates us to get to do what we do every day. That's for sure. 

Chantelle: I can imagine so…

Brad: And I know we were talking before like a lot of this is, you know, we're always building on our partnership. So we have, we have many partnerships in the community that, that help um, like Georgian College. and um we, we do um mostly First Nations. We do programs with them in the summer time. Um, Enaahtig Healing Lodge is an amazing uh program to support students and, and we help them uh deliver uh high school credits to those students. And um, and you know, literally, we try to connect different things that are going on in the, in, in our area just to help as many people as we can. Um, you know, get, get through successfully. We, we're all raised by community, right? And so uh we need the community to pull together for, for the success. 

Chantelle: Yeah, a true kind of example of the power of those, um the power of partnership. Um and whether that's partnership with the student and in reaching those goals or partnership with organizations in the community to make those connections, that really is a, a theme or an undertone of this whole conversation, isn't it? 

I'm wondering, is there anything that kind of would be helpful for our listeners to know whether they were um signing on to, to listen to this episode because it was something they were curious about for their um for their student, or through the course of this episode, maybe they're getting curious about the Con Ed Department for themselves, kind of any kind of words of, of, of advice or um, ideas to share as we wrap up our episode today. 

Brad: Yeah, I think the biggest thing is, is, um, you know, take a visit to our website. I know a lot of people don't use the websites as much and we do put things out on social media but to see the amount of detail that's, that's on our website and our programs and Continuing Education to see the things that are, uh, that are offered and, you know what, it's, it's amazing because sometimes as a person, you might not realize that um there's something that can help you take a different step in your career, or you or your pathway. Or if you're uh a, like a local partner, partnership, uh opportunity that can say, hey, you know what I can see how this can help link to things that I need.

An example is we're now uh been working with the Barrie Area, Ontario Health Team um because of the PSW program, because there's all kinds of shortages in our area, in our region in health care fields. And so we were already doing- we started a really small career fair for the PSW students. And we're like, you know, what would be neat is we engage more students into what's available in our community. And so those are some of the things that, that grow um from these uh opportunities. And we do have a lot of, a lot of partners in the health care field and, and pages of partners.

So it's, it's, it's great. And it's what helps uh things move forward and helps our community moving forward. 

Chantelle: Oh, that's, that's wonderful. I love that addition of saying, hey, maybe there are some listeners who have an idea or a potential around a partnership and, and how that might be a pathway to support this as well. So, thank you so much for your time today, Brad. And I hope for all of our listeners that this episode has helped give you all an inside look at Continuing Education and all of the pathways to graduation um with Principal of Con Ed Brad Shorman.

Um whether you are a potential partner or an interested future student or a current student, I think that our conversation today has highlighted lots of ways that um um might encourage people to think about education a little bit differently, and I really appreciate it and thank you for that. 

Um So for everybody listening, don't forget to subscribe. So you don't miss any adventures from Beyond The Bell. Um, and also take a look at our monthly online article. It accompanies every episode, and it is a lovely um summary uh and story that um dives a little bit deeper into each topic, and it's at Thanks so much, Brad.

Brad: Thank you very much for having me, Chantelle. You do a great job. 

Thanks for listening to Beyond The Bell podcast. We hope you found today's episode helpful.

 Beyond The Bell is brought to you by the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board and our Catholic Parent Involvement Committee. It's hosted by Chantelle Quesnelle. Pauline Stevenson is our Executive Producer. Episodes are produced and edited by Portage Creative. You can find our show notes and previous episodes on our podcast website  If you like today's episode, leave us a review. If you have any suggestions for future episodes or any questions or comments about Beyond The Bell Podcast, you can send an email to

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