November 1st! If you are reading my monthly message this day, I’m sure you have (especially in the elementary grades) a whole bunch of “sugared up” kids! Happy day after Halloween.
I want to begin this month’s message with a look back at some important events that occurred in October. The Board of Trustees held their annual organizational meeting on October 24th and I’m pleased to announce that both Judy Lane (Chair) and Bob Spitzig (Vice Chair) were acclaimed in their positions. This will be their second term and both continue to exemplify the tradition of strong board leaders that has been evident for my entire tenure at Holy Spirit. Anita Lethbridge-Gross provided the trustees with a short presentation on “Mental Health Literacy” which was well received and potentially a stronger priority in years to come. I provided the Board with a review of our Accountability Pillar Summary including our exam results. We continue to show great improvements overall in the division and in fact, this pillar report is one of the best in the last ten years. These results can only be attributed to the excellent leaders, teachers and support staff throughout the division. Continuous improvement, innovative practice and looking outside the box are characteristics of our system and they provide the necessary drive toward excellence. Well done everyone! For more information on the rest of the board meeting, click here.
On that topic, I want to talk a little about our process for school continuous improvement plans. Over the years, these meetings have become far more intentional as schools discuss what they will actually be doing to meet goals rather than simply providing a compliance document. We’ve really been able to focus on a multitude of data (provincial and local) to guide our improvement work. Each school was asked the following five questions:
- Tell us about your data story? What information have you reviewed in preparation for this meeting and what is it telling you? Based on the data, what are your school’s greatest strengths and greatest areas for growth?
- When you think about your school’s work on the Board’s faith goal, what are some strategies that you will initiate this year that are different from the previous years? What data, information or evidence has led you to those adjustments?
- When you think about your school’s work on the Board’s literacy/numeracy goal, what are some strategies that you will initiate this year that are different from the previous years? What data, information or evidence has led you to those adjustments?
- When you think about your school’s work on the Board’s First Nations, Metis and Inuit goal, what are some strategies that you will initiate this year that are different from the previous years? What data, information or evidence has led you to those adjustments?
- At the end of this school year, what will you accept that you were successful in achieving the Board’s three priorities?
The data story is probably the most important part of the review and one that must be told to our parent communities. It provides a context to the results without making excuses and allows schools to look for opportunities for growth. Since this is the last year of our current 3-Year Education and Faith Plan it is important for us to look forward and have a sense of what success looks like in June 2019. Many schools engaged in pre-mortem exercises at the beginning of the year to identify potential barriers and then made adjustments to address priorities. When done well the cycle for continuous improvement is a powerful tool and one that Holy Spirit never ceases to refine.
This coming weekend we celebrate Catholic Education Sunday. Given the increasing threat to publicly funded Catholic Education it is important that we recognize the gift we have in Alberta and openly stand up for our continued existence. I will be providing my message to you later this week and would ask that you read it, reflect and respond accordingly. Be proud when you receive your blessing this coming weekend at mass, as all of us, no matter our roles have a part to play.
Finally I want to express my excitement of our upcoming Division Professional Learning Day. The strength of our schools lies in the strength of our division. With a focus on collaboration throughout the system (grade or subject level) we are building lateral capacity. We have long known that we have expertise throughout the division that needs to be shared so that all students benefit. I’m looking forward to the various opportunities for collaboration on November 13th.
This message is longer than my usual and so I’ll sign off by extending my gratitude to all in our division. Thank you for the work you do to support student success. You do great work! Enjoy your November and God Bless!