It is a beautiful Sunday afternoon. I’m sitting here on my deck after returning from Calgary earlier today. I taught my last class of this semester for Gonzaga, but the bonus was being able to see our son, daughter, son-in-law and of course our two precious grandchildren. Emerson was born 4 weeks ago and Carter will be 2 1/2 years old in July. Each time I see them I’m reminded of the saying (paraphrased), “The days are slow but the years pass quickly!” Tomorrow begins the last official week of school before summer vacation and it seems like only yesterday we welcomed the beginning of the 2017-18 school year.
While there are many things to celebrate this year, we’ve also had to deal with some tough times too. This week we will say our final goodbyes to long time Educational Assistant Maggie Gardin who passed away last week. Maggie is the third staff member that has passed away this year in our Division. Many of our staff members and trustees have also lost parents and other family members during this year. Unfortunately in an organization our size, sadness will hit us throughout every school year. I continue to ask that you keep all of your Holy Spirit family in your prayers and I pray that God continues to shower all of us with His unconditional love, compassion, comfort and mercy.
On Wednesday, the Board of Trustees will hold their last public meeting of the school year. They also met with our MLAs on Friday and will be meeting with our local priests on Tuesday. The meeting with the MLAs was very positive, with our trustees advocating for Catholic Education and new capital projects. Holy Spirit is very deserving and is most hopeful to be in line for a new school and/or modernization in the near future. While some provinces look to abolish school boards and some individuals even here in Alberta would like to see their demise, I cannot stress enough about the importance of having political advocacy at the local level. Holy Spirit is a high functioning school division for many reasons, including the work our local trustees.
We still have a couple more celebrations this week with the graduation ceremonies for St. Mary’s Taber and St. Michael’s Bow Island taking place. While some may not be that enamored to attend graduations, I find it is both an honour and pleasure to be invited. Each of our high schools celebrate uniquely and that is part of the fun! This week, I would ask that you keep the graduates of St. Mary’s and St. Michael’s in your thoughts and prayers as they “cross the stage” and start their new chapter. We also have 19 retirees who will be starting new journeys. We wish our retirees the best of luck as they begin their own new chapters and offer much gratitude to them for all of their years of service. May God grant them good health, much hope and lasting joy in their years to come.
June 17th marked my 9th anniversary of being named Superintendent of Schools for this Division. I continue to feel so blessed to be the Chief Educational Officer (CEO) of Holy Spirit. Each year, I’m reminded of the quality of staff we have in our buildings and the leaders throughout. Great systems only come about because of great schools and great schools become that way because of great staff. The level of commitment to professional learning in our system is exceptional and continuous improvement is just what we do! I say that because while WE may take it for granted because it is just our norm, it is not necessarily commonplace in other divisions. The upcoming holidays are well deserved because of the tremendous dedication you have shown to our students and communities.
Enjoy your vacation. Spend time with your family and friends. Relax and rejuvenate! Travel safely! May God bless you this summer!