The following article was submitted and published in the Lethbridge Herald on June 1, 2016.
In 2013, the Lethbridge Herald began the practice of allowing local superintendents to provide a weekly message on a rotating basis. That initiative in itself should be recognized as extremely forward thinking. In the beginning, I think most of my colleagues and I believed that this was simply a golden opportunity to showcase our own divisions. There is no doubt that each column provides some local school division recognition, but more often the musings of the superintendents are more global. Even though the Herald has provided each superintendent an excellent PR opportunity, the majority of the columns speak to our overall education system and the changes that will be required to prepare our students as future citizens. What this demonstrates is an overall commitment by the superintendents to work together for all students, not just their own.
Superintendents in this area meet with each other as a group a minimum of four times a year. The sharing of successes and the openness around issues and concerns illustrates the trust that exists in this zone. While we are all hired by boards to improve our own system, we also fully understand that, in the complex world of education, working collaboratively is far more effective. It is not that there isn’t competition between the divisions, but it isn’t cutthroat in nature. Instead the competition is about learning from each other and making sure we offer the best possible educational experience to the students we serve.
Alberta continues to be one of the pre-eminent jurisdictions in the world and parental choice is certainly one of the reasons for that. But an equally important factor is the existence of competition and collaboration between divisions and senior administrators. All of us are teachers first with an innate desire for students to be successful. Most of us recognize that, though we want our own students to experience the best opportunities (remember who pays our salaries), we still believe that all students deserve the same high level of education.
In this ever-changing world and given the complexity of education as a whole, collaboration amongst divisions is less of a choice and more a non-negotiable reality. Students are far too important for our future to hoard strategies that work and programs that succeed. It is a comfort to be able to turn to many of my colleagues in the area and discuss a “how” or “why” in their system and know that I will receive an honest and forthright response. I guess that also speaks to the relationship that many of us have with each other and the admiration we hold.
So, on behalf of my colleagues, I would like to thank the Lethbridge Herald for this great opportunity to not only to highlight our own divisions, but further the important aspect of collaboration that exists between our zone 6 divisions.