The end of the school year is right around the corner with the last official day for staff and students on June 24th. It is always hard for me to fathom just how quickly a school year passes. I’m sure that is the same feeling, no matter what profession you are in, if you truly enjoy what you do. Enjoyment for me, is not the absence of issues (we all have many stressors) but the belief that I can and will be able to make a difference. On June 14th at the annual Board’s Retirement Evening, this is a message that I will hear from our retirees again and again. Over their careers, they have made a difference in the lives of students, parents and colleagues. I want to congratulate all of our retirees as they begin a new journey and thank them again for their commitment to Holy Spirit and ultimately Catholic Education. Doing what we really do in education and making a difference in the life of a child may not be fully understood or even shown appropriate gratitude by the general public but it is what great educators do, day in and day out!
Although I’m looking at taking some time off in the summer and working on my golf game, I may be a little quirky in already being excited for 2016-17. Each year since becoming superintendent in 2009, I’ve watched our system, our schools and individual teachers and staff, make necessary tweaks in planning and practice to ensure continuous improvement. 2016-17should be another great year of innovation balanced with a concentrated effort to ensure literacy and numeracy, the foundational skills for student success, are focused upon. The development of our Three Year Education Plan (which I’m hoping will be a 3-Year Plan and not a 1-Year Plan done 3 years in a row), is focusing on SMART Goals and strong pieces of evidence to inform our practice. This year during our Continuous Improvement Plan meetings with school administration we focused on the question, “How do you know?” That question alone has shifted our thinking on classroom, school and system practice and forced us (in a positive way) to be more reflective in all that we do.
This past year has been consuming on the capital front. Schematic design for the modernization of St. Patrick’s Taber continues, our modernization at St. Michael’s in Pincher Creek is proceeding well and we’re excited about the opening of Blessed Mother Teresa for the fall. Each project is being designed to enhance the learning environments for the future instead of just making them “new” from the past. This is an important statement since we should always be looking into the future in our designs and recognizing how students will be learning tomorrow. With growth expected to exceed 2% for next year, these capital projects are needed and certainly well appreciated.
On the faith front (which is why we exist), we are completing our three year faith plan and this year’s theme of “Horizon of Hope.” It was a great pleasure witnessing the many examples of our students and staff creating horizons of hope in their classrooms, their schools and their community. The words of Pope Francis will always ring loudly,
Today amid so much darkness, we need to see the light of hope and be men and women that bring hope to others. To protect creation, to protect every man and woman, to look upon them with tenderness and love, is to open up a horizon of hope.
Together, with the Year of Mercy, we have opened our doors and provided hope to refugees, the displaced and disenfranchised and focused our actions on the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.
So, as we gear up for the last month of school I want to wish our students the best of luck in their final exams and projects and hope they have a wonderful and safe summer. And to our staff and Board of Trustees, I want to extend my gratitude for another positive year. Enjoy a well deserved rest and I’m looking forward to an exciting 2016-17. God Bless!