York hosts a provincial conference for high-school guidance counsellors

From May 14 to 16, York hosted the major provincial conference for high-school guidance counsellors. Held on both the Keele and Glendon campuses, Provincial Dialogue brought together more than 400 counsellors who participated in a mix of sessions and university panels that focused on building a greater understanding of Ontario university requirements and the current issues that affect today’s youth.

With guidance counsellors from across Canada and university representatives from the province of Ontario in attendance, the conference provided an opportunity to meet colleagues and foster dialogue nationwide. Sessions included discussions about facilitating career decisions, the transition from high school to university and strategies for supporting students with disabilities in higher education. Attendees were also offered sessions dealing with understanding self-harm and teenage depression, how students could internationalize their degree and panel discussions with Ontario university representatives detailing recent updates to admissions policies.

York alumna Michelle Dagnino (BA ’02, MA ’03, LLB ’06), now an author, lawyer and consultant, delivered the opening keynote address “Connecting With Youth”. Dagnino works to promote youth activism, mentorship, empowerment, global awareness and leadership. The May 15 plenary session featured Rob Tiffin, York’s vice-president students. Tiffin spoke about possible scenarios for postsecondary education in Ontario in light of recent and predicted demographic realities.

Left: Speaker and York alumna Michelle Dagnino takes questions after her keynote address

“One of the greatest things about Provincial Dialogue is that it brings together counsellors and university representatives for the chance to network and share ideas. It’s just not an opportunity that exists very often,” says David Huckvale, director of recruitment. “These two groups have such a dedication to students and such a sincere interest in each other’s work – it’s wonderful to see the connections and conversations that come out of a conference like this.”

Provincial Dialogue sessions were led by experts in the fields of youth support and engagement who provided insight into current trends in the youth movement, helping counsellors to connect with students in a more meaningful manner. It is the organizers’ hope that this knowledge-sharing will provide the impetus to help students overcome barriers and discover their individual pathways to success.

Provincial Dialogue this year was hosted by York but was organized through a partnership of all Ontario universities. Events and supplies such as water bottles and bags were sponsored by many of Ontario’s universities making the conference a truly collaborative undertaking.

York University sponsored the May 14 evening reception, dinner and entertainment showcase, as well as the May 16 breakfast. Gold-level sponsors RIM, Academica Group and iQuest also offered financial support for the conference and have a vested interest in promoting student success in career exploration and the postsecondary experience.

“York was very honoured to be chosen to host Provincial Dialogue 2008 on behalf of our colleagues,” says Kim Stright, manager, Canadian recruitment and one of the co-chairs of Provincial Dialogue 2008.

“The comments and feedback that we have already received from delegates illustrates that York has the perfect facilities and staff for hosting such an event. We’re thrilled that counsellors had the opportunity to experience York for the three days of the conference and we know that they will take those positive experiences back to their schools”.

Left: Kim Stright (right) checks in delegates

This year marks the first time in more than a decade that the event was hosted in Toronto. Conference attendees spent a day at the Glendon campus, giving York the chance to highlight the different personalities of its two campuses. During the conference, delegates also had the opportunity to explore Toronto’s numerous cultural events and great tourist attractions.

For more information, visit the Provincial Dialogue 2008 Web site.