Happy Easter! I hope everyone had a blessed Easter and enjoyed some well deserved time away from the busyness that seems to consume all of our lives.
This Easter was especially special as it was the first for me as a grandpa! Our beautiful grandson Carter, wishes you a very happy Easter too!
April…already… which means we are less than three months away from the end of the school year. And while we are thinking about the work we need to complete by the end of June, we are already in the planning mode for next year. The Board of Trustees began this process at their March meeting by setting their priorities for the next three years. I’m hopeful that these priorities can remain consistent over the next three years rather than changing on a yearly basis. In other words, it would be nice to develop a three-year education plan (knowing tweaks and adjustments are required) rather than a completing a three-year education plan every year! While I understand the need for compliance, I’ve been assured that our planning documents have the ability to look much different and therefore should be more user-friendly.
Strong and vibrant organizations understand that setting priorities must always precede budget. You need to be very clear first about what your “big rocks” are, and then allocate to them. There will never be enough money, no matter what party is in power, so you had best decide what your key priorities are before you begin the budget process. The provincial budget is slated to be released on April 14th. Moving forward, our Learning Leadership Team will be assisting in setting some division-wide three-year targets for our plan. Some of the targets will come directly from our common assessments. I am so very proud of the work done by our own teachers in the development of our common math assessment. What a wonderful example of a highly collaborative and professional culture! These common assessments align with the Alberta Assessment Consortium Key Visual: Assessing Student Learning in the Classroom which prompts teachers in confirming standards with their colleagues. It is essential that standards are consistent across the division without standardizing excellent practice. The recognition of the fine line that exists between standards and standardization has allowed our schools to continue to be innovative in their approaches to student learning, adaptable, flexible and current. As I’ve often said, “It is not either/or, it is both/and.”
The last topic I wish to address in my monthly communique is Inclusive Communities. The Division has been very strategic in its quiet approach since this topic continues to be highly political and community polarizing. It is very sad that keeping parents as the first and primary educators of their children and ensuring ALL students are safe, cared for and compassionately treated with dignity has caused so much division. Those of you who heard me speak at our Spiritual Development Day and others who know my story, know that this topic in very personal to me, as both a Catholic father and a Catholic superintendent. We’ve always served a spectrum of students and will continue to do so with love and compassion. Our procedure as been submitted to the Minister of Education and we will await the department’s feedback. However, if you’ve felt your child has been in a safe and caring environment in our schools before, that will continue, as nothing has changed. The approach we’ve always taken under my leadership speaks to our vision, “Holy Spirit Catholic Schools, A Christ-centered learning community where students are cherished and achieve their potential.” It is not for some students, it is for ALL STUDENTS!
Have a wonderful April and God Bless!