From the Desk of the Superintendent- April 2012

April 1st  means that there is less than three months remaining in this 2011-12 school year and that, is no April Fools joke. With only three months left in the school year, many plans are already well underway for next year. Our budget assumptions were presented at the March board meeting. These assumptions are based on what senior administration believes will impact the budget in the coming year.  Having completed our public consultations and hearing from staff, parents, students and community members in various forums, the 2012-13 strategic priorities have also been passed by the board. The Division will continue to focus on ways to build upon (1) Catholic Identity, (2) Success for Every Student and (3) Generative Governance.

The March board meeting dealt with numerous recommendations in preparations for the coming school year. The 2013-16 Capital Plan was passed and submitted to the government with a continuation of our previous year’s priorities: (1) Modernization of St. Michael School- Pincher Creek, (2) Modernization of St. Patrick- Taber and (3) New construction elementary school- North Lethbridge.  Another significant motion passed was the re-location of the CARE Campus from the McNally Community Centre to the Fr. Keon wing at Catholic Central High School. This decision was made after significant input from our staff and administration and provides for increased safety and transitioning options for our students. Finally, the board approved the recommendations set out in the West Lethbridge Public Consultation Report. The majority of these recommendations will come into effect for the 2012-13 school year and I believe address the concerns and issues heard from our community. For more information on our board meeting, please check out our Board Meeting Briefs.

Holy Spirit Catholic Schools, in partnership with Lethbridge Public and ASBA are promoting two Day in Education election forums on April 3rd and 4th. Lethbridge West candidates will be hosted on April 3rd at Chinook High Media Centre beginning at 7:00 PM, while Lethbridge East candidates will be part of a forum on April 4th at Lethbridge Collegiate Institute. All candidates will be asked to address Bill 2: Education Act and their views on provincial vs. local bargaining in their opening statements. Following those statements, questions from the floor will be responded to by all candidates. I’m hopeful that questions from the floor will revolve around educational topics that include: Catholic education, inclusion, funding, transformation, provincial achievement tests and diploma exams, curriculum and facilities. Please try and come out to listen to all of the candidates in Lethbridge. We are hoping that a similar format will be organized for our rural ridings as well.  

Transformation continues to be a topic of discussion around the division. I recently picked up on a conversation with some junior high Language Arts teachers as they discussed the topic of ensuring that assessment criteria really focused on the learning of the student. It was a powerful conversation that needs to be furthered in all schools and all homes. The new research out on motivation suggests that marks or grades in themselves do not provide for the development of intrinsic motivation for most students and certainly do not forward learning. I related the following coaching example at last week’s transformation conversation in Taber. “Telling your player that she is shooting 63% from the foul line does not improve her performance on the foul line. However, providing feedback on technique, concentration, etc can and will improve her foul shooting.” Specific feedback counts!

I continue to be proud with the many great things happening in our division each day. I am reminded of this when our Board of Trustees presents the Board of Education Leadership Recognition Awards at each school. These awards recognize the high achievement and significant improvement in each of our schools. I also recognize and applaud the commitment of our staffs as they engage in professional learning and dialogue at grade-level meetings and through social media like Twitter. Since joining Twitter (@cdsmeaton) I have been amazed at the professional growth opportunities it provides. It also allows us to share our own expertise to educators around the world like this video on 21st Century Literacy. Check out our own Holy Spirit YouTube channel for some other great video links.

Finally, this week marks the beginning of Holy Week. In our Catholic tradition, it is the most important time of our liturgical calendar. Through Lent, we have tried to live a life that more closely resembles and embodies Christ. Today at our Palm Sunday mass, I was again reminded of the passion of Christ and the compassion of God. In a world that has become far too focused on wealth and material possessions, our Church reminds us to reflect on what is most important in our lives. And so, on behalf of the Board of Trustees and Senior Administration, I wish each of you a blessed Easter with the continued understanding of God’s unconditional love for all.

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