June is here and two common statements that you’ll often here in the education world are, “It has finally arrived” or “I can’t believe it is June already!” Regardless, we are about to enter into the last month of the 2018-19 school year. It will be a busy month but then again, so have the previous nine. However, this month has students writing final exams which can bring about some added stress to even our most confident students. This is where our Catholic faith can assist with the teaching and modeling of prayer as part of a calming routine. I have come to recognize the importance of that quiet conversation with God during each busy day. I know that it is a blessing for all of us to quietly listen to the voice of God on a daily, sometimes hourly basis. As our students prepare for and write exams and as many become anxious about their future over the summer, please keep them in your prayers.
It is official, Ken Sampson has been appointed by the Minister of Education as the new Superintendent of Schools beginning Monday, January 6th. The transition to lead learner of the Division will begin with Ken assuming the role of Deputy Superintendent on August 1st. I am extremely pleased with the Board’s selection of Ken and believe he will serve Holy Spirit and Catholic Education as a whole with great faith, integrity and compassion. It will be different for me when Ken comes in, as the only Deputy Superintendent I’ve every worked with in my tenure as Superintendent is our soon to be retired Brian Macauley. I cannot begin to say enough good things about Brian and his loyal support of me through not only these years here at Holy Spirit but throughout most of my career. He shys away from the limelight and prefers to do his work in the background which generally sees him get few positive strokes and more often listen to a brunt of complaints. Having lived his world for many years, I know how thankless the human resources role is and yet he always strives to make those tough decisions, deal with some nasty issues and respond to some outrageous requests through the eyes of a Catholic leader. You have to develop a very thick skin and learn to bite your tongue when people throw negative comments your way about a range of issues without losing a compassionate heart and Brian has never lost his compassionate heart. He is a man of great integrity, a faithful Catholic leader and I will miss him greatly!
We also announced our new Director of Learning, Carmen Larsen earlier this month. What a great choice for this position in so many ways given her many talents, background and experience. She will be able to pick up from our current Director of Learning, Lorelie Lenaour and carry on that strong learning culture that has been developed in our division. Carmen is Ken’s first official hire for his, not my team and Lorelie was my first hire in central office as I became Superintendent. Looking back, I remember there was some pretty significant friction (that might be an understatement) between central office and leaders, schools, parents and the overall community. I needed someone who could develop a strong learning culture but most importantly, build immediate rapport with first our Learning Leadership Team and then teachers as a whole. There was only one natural fit and that was Lorelie Lenaour. Looking back over the last 10 years that she has been in central office, I’m truly amazed at the learning journey she has led us on. We do so many things right in our Division and lead in so many areas provincially and nationally because of her quiet leadership. I have learned so much from her over these years and her influence has made me a better Superintendent.
What a blessing it has been to work with Brian and Lorelie and all those who will be “hanging up the blades” at the end of the school year. While I’ll speak more at the Board’s Retirement Banquet, I just want to say how grateful I am for the years of commitment to Catholic Education, all of our retirees have given. May God bless you with good health, abundant joy and much hope in your next journey.
We’ve already celebrated two high school graduations this year and at the end of June, our grade 12 students from St. Mary’s Taber and St. Michael’s Bow Island will be walking across the stage. It is always a pleasure for me to attend these four graduations, provide my remarks and witness the various traditions and uniqueness of each. St. Michael’s will be the last graduation ceremony that I will attend as Superintendent and it will be special for some obvious reasons but especially given my history with Bow Island. As we get closer to the end of June, I would ask that you keep our graduates in your thoughts and prayers.
I’ll provide my year-end message as our school year comes to a close but until then, enjoy the month of June. God Bless!