St. Luke CES teacher Kate Winn helps MOE usher in new kindergarten curriculum
Jan. 26, 2024,
A Q&A with Kate Winn, the PVNC Catholic teacher at the centre of the Ministry of Education’s kindergarten announcement
“It was really special to stand there speaking, knowing that “PVNC Catholic” would be showing up under my name on screen getting the credit it deserves.” – Kate Winn
Those within the Peterborough Victoria Northumberland and Clarington (PVNC) Catholic District School Board community who happened to catch Education Minister Stephen Lecce’s Jan. 23, 2024 press conference, would have seen a familiar face.
St. Luke Catholic Elementary School kindergarten teacher Kate Winn was front and centre, helping the government launch the revamped kindergarten curriculum, which will go into effect in fall 2025 and will focus on literacy and math skills for the province’s youngest learners.
Winn has been a PVNC Catholic teacher since 2000 and is in her 8th year in the kindergarten role. She is a structured literacy presenter, a content lead at ONlit.org and the host and co-producer of the International Dyslexia Association (IDA) Ontario Reading Road Trip podcast.
Q: How did it come about that you were asked to take part in the government announcement (Jan. 23, 2024) with respect to the new kindergarten curriculum?
Kate: Through my volunteer work with IDA Ontario, I’ve had the opportunity to present to the Minister of Education at a couple of different advocacy meetings in the past, one on the Right to Read report and one on early reading screening. More recently, I was invited to meet with some members of the team in the Minister’s office to discuss the changes needed to the current kindergarten program in order to align with the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) Right to Read recommendations. Being aware of my knowledge base and passion for this subject, as well as PVNC Catholic’s leadership in this area provincially, Minister Lecce’s office reached out in advance to let me know a decision had been made to create a new curriculum, and to invite me to provide remarks at the announcement. I have kept the board informed throughout all of this of course, and have received unwavering support.
Q: What was it like to have that opportunity and that platform?
Kate: I was really excited to have the opportunity to speak at an important announcement like this. You don’t often see classroom teachers included in such a high-profile way, and regardless of politics, I think it’s a credit to the Minister and his team that they are in fact listening to informed educator voices on this subject. Those who watched the press conference would have seen that Minister Lecce also called on me a couple of times to respond to media questions, and afterwards several outlets wanted interviews, so it was a really great chance to get the perspective of a teacher who is already using a structured literacy approach out there.
Q: Why was this a proud moment for PVNC Catholic in terms of its work in structured literacy?
Kate: Throughout the process leading up to the announcement I made it clear that I wanted my main title to be “Kindergarten teacher with the Peterborough Victoria Northumberland Clarington Catholic District School Board.” I am a proud PVNC Catholic teacher and want to make sure the board gets the credit it deserves, particularly in this area of structured literacy.
Well before the OHRC released their report in February 2022, Superintendent of Learning Sheila Piggott was already looking ahead to what implementing the expected recommendations would look like in PVNC Catholic. At the board level, literacy consultant Lindsay Bowen and the reading coaches team from this year and last year have done an absolutely phenomenal job leading the way. While my day-to-day work is in the classroom, Lindsay always refers to me as an “honorary member” of the board team, which speaks to the openness and collaboration taking place to make all of this happen. Our board has provided both the professional development and resource pieces that are so necessary for educators, and the students of PVNC Catholic are benefiting from this shift well ahead of many areas of the province.
Q: How well is PVNC Catholic positioned to respond to the new curriculum?
Kate: While we are still awaiting the development and release of these new kindergarten expectations, I know that much of what we will see in that new document has already begun in the kindergarten classes at PVNC Catholic, which is definitely something for us to be proud of. It was really special to stand there speaking, knowing that “PVNC Catholic” would be showing up under my name on screen getting the credit it deserves when we have worked so hard to get evidence-based literacy instruction into our classrooms.