The summer is quickly coming to an end and this week we welcome back staff officially on Wednesday and administrators (LLT) tomorrow. Our first Learning Leadership Team is always characterized with a fair amount of “need to know” information preparing our leaders for the first staff meeting and first day of school. But it would not be typical if we didn’t incorporate professional learning into our meeting and this year we will be spending the afternoon with assessment guru, Dr. Thomas Guskey. His presentation is entitled, Beyond Assessments For Learning: Assessments That Improve Learning and it should affirm our practice in Holy Spirit where data is used to improve instruction and assure parents of high quality learning rather than simple accountability and compliance. I’ve had the pleasure of hearing Dr. Guskey speak a couple of times at major conferences but am looking forward to this smaller and more intimate setting. If you are interested here is a quick article, “Starting the School Year Right” for your reading pleasure.
Even after 32 years in education, I’m always excited at the start of a new school year. There is a comfort in understanding the culture and the direction of the division and knowing so many of the high quality staff that make up Holy Spirit. But there is also great excitement as we welcome new staff and build on our existing practices for continuous improvement. It is those innovative practices, out of box thinking and creative ideas from all staff that always fosters great enthusiasm.
I’m certainly anticipating a great start to the year with our Spiritual Development Day featuring David Wells. This is a return visit for David and so many of you have heard him, but his message is so powerful (and quite comical) that one could listen to him multiple times without tiring. This past year David presented at both SPICE and Blueprints and his message on Pope’s Francis’ apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia (Latin: The Joy of Love) was both moving and uplifting. His presentation will set us up well as we begin Year 2 of our faith plan, “Growing in Spirit”. I’ll provide more context on our faith plan during my opening address on Thursday.
2017-18 will be our second year as well of our Three Year Continuous Improvement Plan. Our priorities remain unchanged with a continued focus on the following:
- Staff and students will grow in their faith and experience the richness of Catholic Education.
- All students will develop literacy and numeracy skills that will prepare them for a changing future.
- First Nations, Metis and Inuit students will achieve equitable educational outcomes.
While the goals are consistent throughout the division, individual schools will continue to personalize them to best fit their context. This process, which we have honed over a number of years, has the strength of an overarching framework (Division Priorities) combined with the flexibility within our schools to develop strategies that meet their individual needs. The result allows for focused resource allocation to support creative ideas and innovative practice. Add the fact, that our schools work together as collaborative teams rather than competitive sites. This provides our schools with the ability to prototype and evaluate ideas and practices and then scale them up and out through the division. While this process may seem like common sense and simple, it is not necessarily a norm in school divisions across North America and is one of the reasons why we continue to excel as a system.
Finally, while the summer was busy for some and restful for others, I want to recognize that many in our midst dealt with some personal tragedies and heartache, some known but most unknown. As a reminder, please keep all of our colleagues in your prayers as they journey now and into the future. May God bless you as you begin this 2017-18 school year!