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Academic Advisors support international student success

 

 Woodroffe HS ESL teacher Sandra Ross-Nguyen (left) with OCENET Academic Advisor Jill Doherty (right) and Grade 12 international student Lam (center) who aims to study hotel Management at Algonquin College next year

OCENET Academic Advisors Jill Doherty and Donna Bass serve an essential role at OCENET in supporting international students in OCDSB schools. Both educators are longtime ESL language specialists.

"Communication is the key - between the OCENET Academic Advisor and all the other partners involved in student integration and success."
- Donna Bass, OCENET Academic Advisor

"There are always unbelievable success stories."
- Jill Doherty, OCENET Academic Advisor

The role of the Academic Advisor is important in providing a liaison between OCDSB schools and OCENET. This partnership involves monitoring report card results and attendance, and generally assisting students to be successful. This process involves reporting to OCENET staff and to Canada Homestay as well as to teachers, guidance counsellors, parents and educational agents.

The Academic Advisors first meet with the international students shortly after they have arrived in Ottawa. Prospective students had already completed a comprehensive online language assessment before coming to Canada, but additional assessments are also conducted to ensure students are placed in appropriate programs in schools. Both written and spoken English assessments are taken as well as an assessment of Math skills. These standardized assessments have been developed by the Ontario Ministry of Education and align with the Ontario Curriculum. Once all of this information is collated, then a determination of the most appropriate school assignment is made. According to Jill Doherty: “Our assessment process involves putting together several pieces of a ‘puzzle’ that is pretty accurate overall.” Within a day or two of arrival in Ottawa, the new international student is ready to attend his or her new school.

In addition to these roles the Academic Advisors are called upon to write letters home to parents to update them on student progress, and they are constantly in contact with Guidance Counsellors and teachers to offer assistance when learning issues arise. Both are often called upon to serve as references for students who wish to apply for scholarships.

There are many success stories and the most memorable students are those who face and overcome the challenges of being an international student. Both of OCENET’s Academic Advisors are dedicated to “knowing students are making friends, learning about Canadian culture, and having a positive Homestay and school experience while studying in Ottawa.”

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