It is hard to imagine that we have only one month of school remaining and the Stanley Cup Playoffs are still going on!!! All kidding aside, each year seems to pass by quicker than the previous and this year was no exception. I’m very proud of the accomplishments of Holy Spirit again this past year. We are blessed with gifted and talented staff and students and fortunate for engaged and caring parents and families. Although people may suggest that as Superintendent of Schools, my perception may be a little biased, I am confident with my beliefs because of both internal and external feedback. During these last couple of months, a number of Alberta Education personnel have visited our division and reviewed our programming. The common conclusion is almost disbelief that a small “rurban” Catholic division can offer such a breadth of programming and supports for all students. Some of the programming that has been highlighted by Alberta Education and recognized as being on the leading edge in the province includes Early Learning, Fine Arts, Inclusive Education, AISI, and we achieve this within a Christ-centered environment.
The need to transform education in order to address the 21st century competencies is becoming embedded in our practices within Holy Spirit. When I get the chance to be in our schools, I witness firsthand how our staff are addressing the Framework for Student Learning that has developed the following competencies for today’s learner:
- Critical Thinking, Problem Solving and Decision Making
- Creativity and Innovation
- Social, Cultural, Global and Environmental Responsibility
- Collaboration and Leadership
- Lifelong Learning, Personal Management and Well-Being
- Digital and Technological Fluency
When I began my teaching career in 1985, I was considered a good teacher. However, if I walked into a classroom today and taught exactly like I did when I began, I would be mediocre at best. Education has changed, teaching practice has been refined and the process of learning with all the research now available is certainly very different. That is why we must continue to transform education and why I’m so proud when I walk into the many classrooms already making those changes.
During the month of May the board held its regular meeting as well as a special board meeting to pass the preliminary budget for 2012-13. At the regular board meeting, a group of parents from St. Michael’s School in Pincher Creek presented about the success of their playground build. They will be part of a documentary film that will shown at the school on June 10th. For all the highlights of the regular meeting, please check the Board Meeting Briefs. The preliminary budget is balanced with the use of $544,000 from operating reserves. Our projections shows that we will have a stable student population again next year. The unknown for the budget however, will be salary and benefit costs, as all three employee groups’ (ATA, CUPE 1825 & CUPE 290) contracts expire as of August 31, 2012. Salary and benefits for all staff contributes to over 77% of a nearly 53 million dollar budget.
With the election behind us, we now have a new Minister of Education. The Honorable Jeff Johnson who represents the riding of Athabasca-Sturgeon-Redwater has taken over the reins as Education Minister. Minister Johnson has indicated three priorities for his department: (1) Capital Projects, (2) Education Act and (3) Tripartite Agreement. Certainly these priorities are very important to Holy Spirit. I will have the opportunity to listen to the Minister at the ASBA Spring General Meeting on June 4-5 in Red Deer. As well, Minister Johnson is meeting with Board Chairs and Superintendents on June 19th, here in Lethbridge. I have heard very positive comments about Minister Johnson already and we look forward to working with him and the department.
As the year finishes up, I would like to take this opportunity to wish all of our students the best of luck in their final exams. Enjoy the summer but always continue to be a learner. Spend time reading a book, learning something new and just having fun by playing. And most importantly, be safe! To all our parents, families and care givers, thank you for your continued support. You are an integral part of the community that helps raise each child. We value your insights and most of all, your love and concern for your children. And finally to our staff- thank you again for your commitment and ongoing dedication to making the lives of students better.
Have a wonderful summer! Good luck and God Bless!