Usually, I begin my monthly message a couple of days before the end of the month. However, my ideas began to percolate after listening to Sarah Hart at our annual Spiritual Development Day and continued while attending the Religious Education Congress. Therefore, most of this blog post was written much earlier than usual and can be sent out today.
As I said in my brief comments, I didn’t always appreciate these types of days. Part of the reason was that my faith journey was fairly new or maybe more truthfully, my own faith was pretty immature. Now, truly knowing the gift that we have in Catholic Education, I’ve begun to really look forward to these days, in which gather us as one large faith community. I also feel most blessed when we all come together to celebrate mass at the conclusion of the day. The entire day from opening comments to our closing mass allows all of us to grow a little more in our own faith. This one was probably a little more special as I realized it is my last Spiritual Development Day as Superintendent of Schools.
But there are a couple more reasons why I often came away from any professional development largely disappointed. The first and I’m sure you’ll find this hard to believe (HA! HA!), was my own ego. Being pretty successful in most endeavours throughout my youth and early adulthood, I think the saying might have been something like, “I already know that! or What is he/she going to teach me?” When you believe you won’t learn anything at a session, guess what, you won’t! The second reason I often came away feeling indifferent was that I put a higher value on entertainment compared to the key messages. Now don’t get me wrong, speakers should certainly be engaging but, sometimes entertainment and learning value may not necessarily align. So while I still desire someone who can touch my heart and mind, I’m more apt to be open to hearing the nuggets that I can apply to my own practice. There are very few speakers who don’t have at least something to offer regardless of the delivery.
And so I’ll circle back to our Spiritual Development Day and Sarah Hart. The quick feedback I received throughout the day was extremely positive. It is not easy to find speakers and plan days like this for the wide scope of employees we have. But I want to commend Joann Bartley, Lorelie Lenaour and Michelle MacKinnon (and their supports) who typically are largely responsible for our division days for trying to always find the right fit. The resources allocated and the high quality of professional learning offered in Holy Spirit has little to do with me. If you didn’t get anything out of one of our division days, I would challenge you (nicely) to be reflective on your own mindset. Is it your ego or attitude or something else that is holding you back from finding the learning?
Well, it is election time and together with our ATA locals, Holy Spirit and Lethbridge School Division are hosting two election forums focusing on education. The first for Lethbridge West will be held on April 2nd at Chinook High School. St. Francis will be hosting the forum for Lethbridge East on April 8th. Both forums are scheduled for 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM. Education is and always should be a high priority for any government and so I would invite all who are able to attend, to come out and hear candidates’ thoughts and party platforms. In my role as Superintendent, I need to be apolitical. However, Alberta Education officials know me well enough that I’m their biggest supporter when they make good decisions and their toughest critic when they make poor ones. Let’s hope that I can be supportive after the votes are counted!
The paperwork is in for the new superintendent but, with the election being called, it is unlikely that the individual will be publicly named until a new government is formed. Given that, and in consultation with the Learning Leadership Team, I made the suggestion to the Board of Trustees (and they’ve agreed) that rather than initiate a new three-year education plan under my direction, the Board extend our current plan an additional year and allow the new superintendent to guide the process beginning in 2020. We will implement our new 3 Year Faith Plan but continue with the priorities of literacy, numeracy and First Nations, Metis and Inuit learning. The beauty is that these priorities still align well with new curriculum and the Leadership/Teacher Quality Standards being implemented in September 2019.
For the past two years we’ve partnered with the U of L (thanks Valerie) to offer some phenomenal STEM/STEAM opportunities for students and staff. We are formalizing this partnership for next year again as it is evident that many of our classrooms/schools are taking advantage of this PD and providing some great learning experiences. One such experience, at St. Patrick School in Taber was provided to the Board of Trustees at the regular meeting in March. Associate Principal Sean Ethier and grade 2/3 teacher Nicole Caputo demonstrated their work with technology integration. For complete highlights of the board meeting please click here.
We are about to begin the fourth week of Lent. I hope that your Lenten journey has been spiritually fulfilling. It is not easy to be committed to increased prayer, fasting and almsgiving for any amount of time, let alone 40 days. However, I do pray that you make each day an opportunity to invest in your own spiritual growth as we all prepare for the Easter Season and the ultimate resurrection of Jesus Christ.
May God Bless you throughout this Lenten Season and into the season of the risen Lord.