From the Desk of the Superintendent- February 2016

We have reached the mid-point of the school year and it is all downhill from here! Well, it may be downhill but it is at full speed as usual in the Division. The mid-point of the school year is a great time to reflect. Often that reflection comes in the form of a conversation with a staff member, student, parent, stakeholder, government official or like today, a company that we work with. Interesting when you have a chance to tell your story, the real story, not the superficial one where everything is perfect, but the one that honestly identifies the successes and challenges you face as a Division. In his book, Good to Great, Jim Collins talks about confronting the brutal facts and honest reflection requires that! While I’m our Division’s biggest cheerleader, I also recognize our limitations. But what I notice when I visit schools and discuss continuous improvement plans with our leadership team is the recognition of those limitations and a fierce desire to simply “get better.” That is the real story and the one I’m asked to share often to audiences both provincially and nationally. We accept that we are not perfect, but we won’t allow our imperfections to limit our capacity to grow and improve. That is truly noteworthy and it is an attribute of our staff for which I am most grateful!

I just want to say something quick about my school visits. Those who know my schedule understand my travel and meeting requirements. It is a taxing part of my position but fully accepted with no regret. But when I get the opportunity to spend a half day each week in our schools, visiting staff and working with students, well that is about as energizing as can be. I’m thankful for the warm welcome I’ve received in all of the classrooms I’ve been in already, the excitement shared and the conversations had. I look forward to my school visit each and every week!

Shifting to the January Board Meeting, you can find the brief here. Of particular note was the decision by the Board of Trustees to eliminate the Instructional Resource Fees for 2016-17. The Board has discussed this in the past and felt that the timing was right to eliminate these fees for next school year. Although we’ve always provided the waiver of school fees for those families unable to pay, this decision is a universal support for all. It calculates to a loss of revenue of approximately $160,000, but given the economic times we are in, it is simply the right thing to do! We are not eliminating option or co-curricular type fees but we intend to be more diligent in the charging of fees. School leaders will be engaging school councils on the topic of fees in the coming months.

This past weekend, the second reading at mass was the beautiful passage on love.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (1 Cor 13:4-7)

While it is easy to connect this passage to Valentine’s Day, it is also easily connected to the Season of Lent. As a faith community, we would be well served to focus on love as espoused by St. Paul during Lent. It provides each of us with a wonderful roadmap to follow in this Lenten Season. And so, as we begin Lent on Ash Wednesday (February 10th), I pray that your Lenten journey be bountiful in love. God bless!

 

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