Last night I returned from spending a week in beautiful Kananaskis, Alberta. The purpose for being out of the office for a week was twofold. First, I met for two days with other Catholic superintendents around the province. This is an excellent opportunity to share our experiences, mentor one another, further develop our faith and finally, discuss issues regarding Catholic Education. We meet four times a year and this meeting is held in Kananaskis due to the Blueprints conference which follows. Blueprints is an annual conference hosted by the Alberta Catholic School Trustees’ Association (ACSTA) with a targeted audience of Catholic administrators, trustees and clergy. This year, Holy Spirit had 11 administrators, 1 trustee and 2 parish priests attend. Blueprints and its sister conference Spice, for teachers and support staff, are powerful faith development events that generally leave participants physically exhausted but spiritually renewed. This year, as conference chair, I was part of an outstanding committee who were able to bring in Reverend Raymond Carey from Portland, Oregon. Over a three day period, he challenged us with the theme of “Shalom: Seeking Wholeness and Balance in Catholic Leadership.” We really are blessed to have Catholic education in our province and conferences devoted to nurturing our faith and spirituality are instrumental in our continued success.
The regular April board meeting began with the introduction and recognition of Ms. Nicole Parkin, a teacher at St. Michael’s School in Pincher Creek. Ms. Parkin has been selected as the Edwin Parr Award nominee for Holy Spirit. The Edwin Parr Award recognizes excellence in first year teaching. On May 9th, a banquet will be held to honor all of the nominees from neighbouring school divisions and one will be chosen to represent Zone 6. With the election over, the Board requested that letters of congratulations be sent to our new Premier and our local MLA’s. Other action items included the approval of a number of Locally Developed Courses, items for discussion with the Council of School Council Chairs and continued support of “A Public Education” campaign. The Board also reviewed and amended Policy 18: Board Governance and Policy 20: Fiscal Stewardship. For a complete review of the April meeting check out Board Meeting Briefs.
We continue to plan for the coming school year as we prepare our budget that supports our strategic priorities of (1) Catholic Identity, (2) Success for Every Student and (3) Generative Governance. A generative governance structure requires multiple stakeholder feedback loops. The Board of Trustees and Senior Administration have made a conscious effort to increase two-way communication throughout their term, with public consultations, transformation conversations and face to face meetings. This month the Board of Trustees will meet for the third time this school year with the Council of School Council Chairs (COSC). To enhance this dialogue, the Board Chair and/or myself will sit with the group to answer any pressing questions. This will ensure that the meeting agenda will focus on rich discussion and fruitful dialogue on topics that impact our entire system. A great example of this was the rich dialogue held on Provincial Achievement Tests at the last COSC meeting. Another important method of gaining stakeholder feedback is through our Schollie Surveys. The data we gather is crucial and therefore I am requesting that you (staff, parents and students) provide your insights. To assist you, we have made all of the surveys available online until May 11th. Please check them out here.
The school year is coming to a close and that means high school graduations. This coming weekend I will be bringing greetings to the graduates of Catholic Central High School in Lethbridge and St. Michael’s School in Pincher Creek. I always look forward to addressing our graduating students. They are our future and they represent the collective effort of their parents, our schools and our parishes. Regardless of the graduation theme, I always try and leave them with a reminder of the importance of faith in their life, purpose in their work and love in their heart. It really is a simple formula to find joy. And so, I close my May message with a blessing for our graduates and a wish that they find Shalom in their lives… perfect balance. God Bless!