From the Desk of the Superintendent- March 31, 2014

I want to begin this month’s blog by celebrating excellence. This past month, three of our Holy Spirit teachers were recognized for their excellence. Coreen Packham was nominated for an Excellence in Teaching Award, Kelly Peake was named Holy Spirit’s recipient of the Excellence in Catholic Education Award and Cyrenna Carpenter will be our Edwin Parr nominee, which celebrates excellence in first year teaching! All three of these ladies should be congratulated for these achievements, as their work contributes to the overall success of our school division. Well done!

With April almost upon us (note I didn’t say spring) and the provincial budget announced, we are gearing up for the 2014-15 school year. At the last board meeting, trustees approved the strategic priorities and reviewed the budget assumptions. The strategic priorities are based on the provincial government’s business plan which articulates four goals: (1) An excellent start to learning, (2) Success for every student, (3) Quality teaching and school leadership and (4) Engaged and effective governance. To ensure local context and commitment to our Catholic faith, the Board of Trustees approved the following priorities to guide our planning for 2014-15:

  1. Walking together in our Catholic faith
  2. Preparing students for their future
  3. Engaging and effective governance

Tomorrow afternoon, I’m heading to Saskatoon to participate in ERDI. Education Research & Development Corp. (ERDI) provides a forum for meaningful dialogue between business leaders and chief executive officers (CEOs, superintendents and directors) of key school districts/boards across Canada. I am very honored to have been invited to attend these semi-annual conferences and engage in meaningful dialogue with other superintendents from across the country. Although education is provincially mandated, the ability to obtain a national perspective is most helpful for our division.

Our C2 committee met for the last time this year. The C2 committee has been extremely valuable in providing an avenue to discuss teacher workload and teacher efficacy. Based on some provincial perspective, our C2 committee is farther along the path than most and the ability to offer an assessment day is being held up as an exemplary practice. ATA Local President Mark Nixon, C2 Committtee Chair Luigi Pollio, Trustee Bryan Kranzler and I will be heading to Calgary for a provincial meeting on April 15th. I would like to thank the members of the C2 committee for an excellent first year.

One of the messages that came out of the C2 committee was a request for me to again articulate my belief statements on curriculum. Earlier this month I wrote an article for the Lethbridge Herald entitled Curriculum Redesign. I would ask that you re-read this article as it leads you to my main message. The Minister of Education has given school divisions permission to do things differently and I want to ensure that you clearly understand that this same freedom is being allotted to schools and individual classrooms teachers around pedagogy. Each of you has the opportunity to “thin” the curriculum and focus on the “need to know” outcomes. Literacy and numeracy must be at the center of all that we do from the early years to high school. Never before in education have we been given such an opportunity. While we still need some time to build collective professional judgment between grades and schools, each teacher can already dismiss outcomes that are simply “nice to know!” I would encourage all teachers to begin having conversations with their colleagues on the essential outcomes for success in their grade and the one above. Our students will benefit greatly from the opportunity to go deeper in their learning by covering less “mediocre” outcomes.

As I finish my blog, I want to pass on some of my favorite articles from the Twittersphere! Enjoy!

  1. 2 very divergent articles about failure: Protect your Kids From Failure and Why Parents Need to Let Their Children Fail
  2. A great article about trust: The Proven Path to T.R.U.S.T.
  3. The Land of But; Where Ideas Go To Die!

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