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Nov 30

Chris Smeaton

From the Desk of the Superintendent- December 2017

Last night, the Board of Trustees held their November meeting. The November meeting for all boards across the province is heavy with content. The Audited Financial Statements are reviewed and passed along with any transfers necessary. The budget is updated with finalized numbers and approved by the Board. And, the Annual Education Results Report (AERR) is also presented and approved. I know many cannot wait to read the 40 page AERR but for those who desire a shorter version take a look at our summary.

I would never be so arrogant to believe or publicly communicate that our results don’t illustrate that we have some areas for improvement. We are a professional organization and as such continuous improvement should be something we always strive. But we also have some results and some practices that are considered excellent not just here in the south but provincially and even nationally. Just this week, I’ve had conversations with two large education corporations who have sought us out to find out how we’ve developed such a culture of innovation, a spirit of creativity within a highly aligned and data informed system.

When I’m in the building, I always try to pop in to the professional learning sessions that we host. Earlier this month, I attended a session on the Collaborative Response Model in which we have a number of schools piloting this year. What a powerful process to limit students from falling through the cracks and to allow staffs to engage in solution focused conversations to assist all students. Whether it is our collaborative peer mentor program or our grade level meetings or like this morning, a session for early learning, I’m always amazed at the rich learning taking place not just for the participants but for me as well. There is always a nugget that I take away, sometimes it is crystal clear and other times it requires my further reflection. I value the professional learning opportunities we offer and the support we provide within our Holy Spirit context.

But my favorite time is when I can get out of my office, get into schools and classrooms to witness learning firsthand. Yesterday, I was able to watch a master teacher provide exceptional reading intervention to a small group of students and then witness a brand new teacher try a new strategy to engage students on parts of a short story. Her comment, “It might crash and burn” when I first asked her about it excited me because she was willing to try something different regardless of me, the superintendent being in the classroom. That is the culture that we want to continue to foster in order to support our teachers’ collective autonomy and better engage our students each and every day.

People who are not in the education system have no concept of the pace of education. Tomorrow is December 1st and it is difficult to fathom that we have already completed three months of the 2017-18 school year. Blink…and it will be Christmas. But even though education runs like a sprint and not a marathon, we still need to find time to pause and reflect. In our faith, the season of Advent provides just such a time. We prepare for the coming of the Christ child not with more gift buying or shopping but with simple and quiet times in prayer. As we begin this Advent season, I pray that all of us, intentionally slow down our pace to ensure that God always has a part in our busyness!

Have a wonderful December and a blessed Advent!

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