Today, March 2, 2013, I am in Medicine Hat, Alberta to celebrate my mother’s 70th birthday. She doesn’t know that we have travelled down and so she will be quite surprised when we meet her and my dad at supper. When I left home at 17 to attend university, she was just 36 years old and my parents have been empty nesters ever since. It is difficult for me to believe that my mother is 70; she still works part time and exercises every morning at the local YMCA! She also has a hole in one in golf- I on the other hand do not! Happy Birthday Mom!
At our regular meeting in February, the Board of Trustees received a donation of over $16,000 from the Food for Thought campaign organized by the Lethbridge Herald. This amount supports our Mother Teresa Fund which provides breakfast (and sometimes lunch) programs for students in our schools. It is hard to imagine that in this day and age, we have nearly 1 in 5 children living in poverty in the area. These programs are essential in providing students with the nutrition required for brain development and educational success and we are ever grateful for the leadership of the Lethbridge Herald and the generosity of the community.
The trustees also received a presentation from Division Principal, Lorelie Lenaour and AISI researcher, Jana Boschee. The presentation provided an update on our AISI project which focuses on learner intellectual engagement. Even in its infancy, the project has been recognized provincially and continues to provide excellent support to our teachers. This support becomes evident in our classrooms where students are more engaged in school and demonstrate increased responsibility in their own learning. I’m extremely proud of how our teachers are engaging in their own learning as professionals, improving their own instructional practice and role modeling their own love of learning to benefit our students.
The Board also engaged our stakeholders in February with two separate consultation evenings; one for staff and the other for parents only. The evenings focused on setting division priorities which are based on the goal of Alberta Education of ensuring that every student is an engaged thinker, ethical citizen with an entrepreneurial spirit. The feedback (in its raw form) from the two evenings has been shared with the Board of Trustees and will be provided to the Council of School Council Chairs on March 4. Senior and school administration will be further reviewing the data in detail looking for trends. This data will assist the trustees in developing the 3-year education plan and annual budget.
Speaking of the budget, it will be released on March 7 to the public. Given the financial situation of the province, school divisions are not expecting any increase. The forecast does not look promising and therefore an even tighter fiscal picture is likely. In my 28 years of education, I have never stated that we have enough money in education so I’m not particularly surprised with this rhetoric. Although shrinking budgets force tough decisions, Holy Spirit Catholic Schools has been able to weather these past storms and I am confident we will do so again and continue to offer high quality Catholic education!
During the first couple of weeks in March, the fine arts programs of St Francis Junior High and Catholic Central High School are highlighted. Junior high students from St. Francis will be performing the musical “Guys and Dolls”, while our high school students from CCH will be showcasing “Bye Bye Birdie”. I love attending these productions to witness the many talents of our students. I also recognize and certainly appreciate the countless hours of rehearsal put in by the students and staff. When the final curtain comes down, they will all deserve a thunderous applause and many, many accolades. I would highly encourage all staff, parents and community members to check out either one or both of these musicals…you won’t be disappointed!
We have a special anniversary this month as well. St. Patrick School in Taber will be celebrating their 50th anniversary on March 17. This will be an extra special celebration for me as my first position in Holy Spirit Catholic Schools was as the principal of St. Patrick School from 1996-2001. I’m looking forward to seeing many of the former staff and community members from yesteryears. Congratulations St. Patrick!
On behalf of the Board of Trustees and Senior Administration may your Lenten journey continue to remind you of God’s unconditional love and may you experience much health, hope and happiness as your prepare for the Easter season!