From the Desk of the Superintendent- November 2011

It is hard to believe that two months of the school year have already come and gone. Each month, our schools send me their newsletters and I am always amazed at the number of events planned for our students. When I review each of our school’s calendars I begin to understand why time flies by so quickly- we are very busy! But even in our busyness, we still ensure that our Catholic faith is front and central in everything that we do. This coming weekend, we celebrate Catholic Education Sunday. It is a recognition of the gift of publicly funded Catholic Education that we experience in Alberta. Most countries and many provinces in Canada do not have that same luxury, and so we need to remember not to take Catholic Education for granted. Later this week, I will post my Catholic Education Sunday message.

Catholic Education in Holy Spirit School Division is about providing each student entrusted to our care with an education rooted in the Good News of Jesus Christ. And that means excellence! At this past board meeting, I presented our trustees with our Accountability Pillar Results for October 2011.  With an excellence standing in the following categories: Safe and Caring, Program of Studies, Drop Out Rate, Rutherford Scholarship Eligibility Rate, Transition Rate, Citizenship and School Improvement; and improvement or maintenance of results in 15 of 16 measure categories, we are definitely providing high quality Catholic Education. In fact, in some of the categories, we are among the leaders in the province. These results are a direct result of the work of our committed and dedicated staff and wonderful students.

There were significant decisions made at the Regular Board Meeting held in October. Certainly the decision of the Board to provide additional staffing to our highest needs in the division with the additional funding received by the province was most welcomed. In addition, the Board is taking public engagement to the next level by hosting an initial conversation on transformation (occurring November 2) and initiating a process to review our west side schools. Further information will be coming out from my office about this important public consultation event. The Board will also be meeting with School Council Chairs later this month. I would like to congratulate Sandra Dufresne, who was acclaimed as Board Chair, and Terry O’Donnell, who was acclaimed as Vice Chair. For further information about the meeting, please check out the Board Meeting Briefs.

This month I am continuing with my school visits. In my opening address, I promised to meet with every staff before Christmas. The visits are structured so that I can visit every classroom and be introduced to the students and, at an appropriate time (before school, after school or at lunch), meet with the staff. I provide the staff with a consistent message from school to school and then open it up for questions. Although I love my job, one of the drawbacks of being a superintendent is the minimal contact I have with students. These visits provide me with that opportunity and I am grateful to be around the students. It is great to be in schools and witnessing the many great things going on every single day!

On behalf of the Board of Trustees and Senior Administration, I would like to take this opportunity to wish each of you a wonderful November.

God Bless!

Chris Smeaton

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