Good morning from Kananaskis where I’m joining my fellow Catholic Superintendents for a couple of days of meetings before Blueprints. Blueprints follows SPICE and from all indications, the SPICE conference which finished up on Sunday was a huge success. Congratulations again to our Excellence in Catholic Education Award winner Chris Hartman who was recognized here on Friday evening. We are fortunate in the province of Alberta to have both of these conferences and I would encourage all staff to attend during their careers. They are extremely powerful conferences and provide tremendous spiritual growth for all participants.
May has arrived which means we have less than 40 days to prepare for the end of the school year. It will be a busy stretch as we continue to work on staffing, develop plans to address our priorities for 2016-17 and of course finalize our budget. While the provincial budget didn’t provide any additional grant funding, the government recognized the importance of funding growth. In our current economic times, that commitment was welcomed news as our school division continues to grow and expand. We are looking at another enrolment increase for next year of between 2.0-2.5% or 100 + students. Since 2013-14 we have grown by just under 320 students and have hired an additional 18.28 FTE teachers. Put another way, we’ve hired a new teacher for every 17.36 students since that time. I know that since my time with the Board, our trustees have always committed to spending today’s dollars on today’s students and not placing it into the war chest of reserves.
This week we celebrate Education Week. Our division doesn’t really highlight this because there is such a strong belief that every week is Education Week. I’m confident in saying that for a couple of reasons. One is through my school visits. Whether I’m working in a classroom, observing practice or simply engaging with staff in their meetings, my beliefs are reaffirmed about the strengths within Holy Spirit. Secondly, is the recognition we receive from outside our walls. Case in point, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is sending a researcher to our Division to look at our practices around aboriginal learning. We have also been invited to be part of a research study for this same reason. I think sometimes we are simply too humble to really highlight these accolades or… we are just not content with the status quo and therefore are continually looking at ways to continuously improve. Looking beyond our own division and accessing professional development through accessing division/school or personal funds has also caused us to see other possibilities. Both personal and systemic growth requires a balance between reflection inward and reviewing outward.
May signals the start of our high school graduations, our feather blessing and sash ceremony, our Pow Wows and our long service awards. Each of these events are strong reminders of who we are and what we do. There is always room to improve and I will never be one who doesn’t stop pushing and learning. But at the same time, it is important to recognize and celebrate the many positive qualities that exist within Holy Spirit. Stealing a line from CCH principal Carol Koran and slightly modifying it I end with the following statement, “What we do in Holy Spirit is good!”
Enjoy the month of May and God Bless!