From the Desk of the Superintendent- November 2014

Only in southern Alberta can you have golf type weather on one day and a snowfall warning on the next day. From the look of the forecast, we should see a fair amount of melting over the week, but I think  winter has arrived!

I want to begin this monthly message with sincere gratitude to the ATA PD Committee for asking me to keynote our Division Wide PD Day last month. It was a great honour and I’ve been most humbled by the many positive comments received. It should provide a great sense of pride to everyone within our school division that Holy Spirit is well recognized as being high performing and embracing a culture of innovation. I applaud the work being done in our schools, as we continue to reflect on our practice, think outside the box, and better meet the needs of our students.

Interestingly, Bishop Henry spoke of “out of the box” thinking at Calgary Catholic’s Faith Day that I attended last week. His message spoke of being counter cultural in that we must love our enemies. When things do not go right in our world, as is often the case, our natural instinct is usually anger and yet, we are called to see the face of Christ in all we meet, not just those who love and support us. Our world teaches hatred and revenge, Jesus teaches love and forgiveness. It is certainly out of the box to live like Christ in this world and as a faith organization, we are called to be witness each and every day to that life. Bishop Henry as usual, provided a powerful message and it was further emphasized by Gary Strother, Chief Superintendent of Calgary Catholic. Doing things different to what the world expects and out of the box thinking are consistent calls in our faith lives.

The October board meeting provided information on the Accountability Pillar Results. This report, once again, demonstrated the confidence that our public have in areas like Educational Quality, Safe and Caring, Parental Involvement and School Improvement. Well done Holy Spirit Staff! The meeting also saw the Board take a bold stance, in an uncertain future, and voted not to administer Grade 6 Provincial Achievement Tests in 2015. Although this option, to choose PATs or SLAs was the original plan circulated with the announcement of the SLAs in May 2013, the Board has made a strong statement for current assessment practice. Well done Board of Trustees!

November is always a busy month for trustees and senior administration. The College of Alberta School Superintendents (CASS) hosts the fall conference, which focuses on FNMI learning and features our own U of L Professor, Dr. Michelle Hogue as a keynote. Our 4-member team consisting of our Deputy Superintendent, Director of Learning and two school based principals will be travelling to China at the end of the week to present on our leadership practices that support our journey in Inspiring Education. On the November 8/9 weekend, we celebrate Catholic Education Sunday. With only three provinces in Canada that support publicly funded Catholic Education, this is an important celebration and one that should not be taken for granted. And finally, the trustees and I will be in Edmonton for the annual general meetings of both the Alberta Catholic School Trustees’ Association (ACSTA) and the Alberta School Boards’ Association (ASBA). At the ASBA  Awards Gala and Dinner, Holy Spirit will be vying for the prestigious 2014 Premier’s Award for School Board Innovation and Excellence for our partnership work with Canadian Home Builders’ Association Lethbridge. Regardless of the outcome, this partnership has proven to be extremely valuable to our students.

Have a wonderful November!



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