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Oct 31

Chris Smeaton

From the Desk of the Superintendent- November 2016

Two months into the school year already and what an eventful two months! I want to begin with a bit of a reflection on our Division Wide Professional Day. Our school leaders would be the first to admit that I “got” literacy and numeracy at the elementary level, but was less confident about how they fit for our junior and senior high schools. The definitions by Alberta Education in the Literacy and Numeracy Progressions document assisted me, but it was  the keynote presentations from Dr. David Slomp and Dr. Richelle Marynowski that really solidified my understanding.

Literacy is the ability, confidence and willingness to engage in language to acquire, construct and communicate meaning in all aspects of daily life.

Numeracy is the ability, confidence and willingness to engage with quantitative or spatial information to make informed decisions in all aspects of daily life.

As I mentioned in my opening remarks, “the ability, confidence and willingness to engage” and “in all aspects of daily life’ really struck a chord with me. Literacy and numeracy are far more than just reading, writing and arithmetic, even though that is how we generally measure them. It requires all of us to be more thoughtful in highlighting literate and numerate skills and competencies to our students. In my morning Q & A session with the Superintendent, this was widely discussed. Our concerted effort in this will assist the general public in a better understanding of the wide scope of literacy and numeracy. Over the next three years, I’m excited about the growth of literacy and numeracy in our staff and in our students.

Before I move on to upcoming events, I would like to highlight the October Board meeting. Both Bryan Kranzler as Board Chair and Pat Bremner as Vice Chair were acclaimed to their positions for 2016-17. I would suggest that this speaks to the confidence that the Board has in both of these individuals but also in the overall strength of our trustees. Earlier this month I had a staff member talk about how, my ability to “stick my neck out” was liberating and how it role modelled what I wanted our schools and individual teachers to do, take a chance and go deeper in order to really engage students in high quality and meaning learning. While getting closer to retirement age always provides greater ability to “stick your neck out” it is the Board of Trustees who must also take some of this credit. They have supported my leadership in seeking continuous improvement for our system, our staff and our students. There is a distinct line between governance and administration and our Board understands that distinction better than most. This understanding allows me to administer with the freedom to implement the wishes of the Board as set out in the Board’s Strategic Priorities. It seems simple because it works well but when it doesn’t… Congratulations to and many thanks for the leadership of our Board of Trustees!

The first Sunday in November is always set aside to celebrate Catholic Education Sunday. We have sent out a letter to all of our local parishes and provided some examples of how to ensure this special day is highlighted. As in the past, I have prepared a short message to be read at all masses on that weekend. I will include this message as a blog post that day. In the bulletin, our first Holy Spirit Catholic Schools insert will be placed as well as a letter from the Bishops of Alberta, that speaks to the importance of Catholic Education. It is the first paragraph of the letter that articulates our unique difference.

Catholic education takes its lead from Jesus Himself: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.” (Mt 28.19-20) Simply, this means announcing the Good News of Jesus Christ and helping one another to become His disciples. Bishops of Alberta

To paraphrase St. Teresa of Avila, all of us in Catholic Education are the “eyes, feet and hands of Christ.” May God continue to bless each of you in your vocation of Catholic Education!

Have a great month!!!

 

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