From the Desk of the Superintendent- May 2019

I’m a day late in sending my monthly message out but I did this purposely, since I wanted to complete our Team Continuous Improvement Plan Reviews first to able to share some of my perspective. Over the last two days, teams of three schools came to the St. Basil Catholic Education Centre to provide year-end reviews. We asked four guiding questions to focus the conversation.

  1. What are some ways that you know (beyond a list of activities) that your Catholic culture has grown this past year?
  2. What are you seeing in the classrooms that demonstrates that student learning has been impacted by improved instruction in literacy and numeracy?
  3. How has the work you’ve done in the First Nations, Metis and Inuit priority impacted student and staff learning?
  4. What might be some strategies you will be implementing next year to build on these priorities?

As senior administration reflected at the conclusion, all of us were first and foremost very proud of the work occurring in our schools. Shifts in language from my students to our students, intentional collaboration, reviewing data to improve instruction, support for Collaborative Response Model and extreme gratefulness for the work of our Learning Coaches were common themes.  But something else was present which I might be most proud of; raw honesty of things that were not perfect and still needed work and the desire of our school administrators to look to their colleagues to collaborate for solutions. While we might believe that is the norm to be that open and honest in front of the superintendent and his senior team, it simply is not. This speaks to the trust that our administrators have and the willingness to share beauty marks and warts! I just cannot say enough about the work of our leaders and the dedication of our staff!

Speaking of dedication, it is always a great celebration at our Long Service Awards. This year we honoured over 80 individuals and close to 30 have 20+ years of experience.  In my closing comments, I spoke about the loyalty of an organization to staff and the loyalty of staff to an organization. When the new norm is that people are changing careers around 7 times in their work life, we have employees who believe in Holy Spirit and remain for a long number of years. The Board’s desire to host these long service awards each year is a small token of appreciation for that loyalty. I’m personally grateful for the loyalty shown to me by staff throughout my tenure in Holy Spirit. As I said in my comments, I am blessed to feel so welcomed when I walk into our schools and will certainly miss that connection once retired.

Obviously the biggest news in April was the election. As I have said previously, I need to stay pretty apolitical as I must work with whatever government is in power. But, Catholic Education should be very excited with the naming of Adriana LaGrange as our new Education Minister. Mrs. LaGrange is a former board chair of Red Deer Catholic and prior to throwing her hat in the provincial ring was the President of the Alberta Catholic School Trustees Association.  There have been a lot of rumours on what the budget will look like. Speculating on the budget, we are planning for a status quo budget with likely no enrolment growth and no classroom improvement funding. We will need to wait and see!

Many of you may not realize that I sign off on all international trips. Even though the planning for these trips are exemplary, I’m always looking forward to the daily texts (I request from the lead teacher) when at the end of each day, students are back in the hotel and tucked into bed. This year we had two trips to Europe and one to New York. I’m not sure the general public has any idea how much work goes into the planning and while it may be a holiday for students, it is plain intense for chaperones. This year we had some students and staff get sick right at the end of one of the trips. I watched with such pride how chaperones across the ocean worked closely with administration here and the tour company to look after sick students and colleagues. It was amazing the care and compassion shown by our staff. Being pretty blunt, it frustrates the hell out of me, when people with little to no knowledge of the situation take “pot shots” at our procedures. Our kids were well taken care of throughout their ordeal. I’m thankful and so should all parents for the organization, the work and the overall care our staff provides on international trips. Without that commitment, I wouldn’t be signing off on any international trips! Well done chaperones, past, present and future!

By the way, with Easter being so late, does everybody realize that there are only 8 more Mondays left in the school year! The remainder of the year will pass by quickly. With the naming of our new Deputy Superintendent, Ken Sampson, we will be interviewing for the Director of Learning position this coming Saturday. There are a couple of associate principal positions that will be finalized within a couple of weeks and Brian and I are reviewing overall staffing numbers tomorrow afternoon. Before we know it June will be here and then…2018-19 school year will be done!

As we get closer to the end of the school year, I want to remind all of our school staffs that some students’ behaviours may become increasingly negative. For some students, the thought of not being able to come to school where there exists a stable and safe environment is very difficult. It is in these times that we must show those students our greatest patience and give them our most love. Remember that you may be the only caring adult in the life of some of the children in our schools!

Keep doing what you are doing because YOU ARE GREAT!



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    • Judy Lane on May 3, 2019 at 7:51 AM
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    Always enjoy reading your messages… thank you for sharing your wisdom and points of view about so many topics in our education world. But most importantly Chris, you never forget the person as you don’t concentrate on just the paper (curriculum, marks, plans). Thank you for that!

    • Bruce Elniski on May 3, 2019 at 10:23 AM
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    Your observation that some students see school as one of the few good things in their lives rings very true. Many students just don’t have much to go home to, through no fault of their own. It must be hard for them, especially when fellow students have more.
    Decently funded public education for every child is so important, glad that you stand up for it so well.

    • Del Sheehan on May 5, 2019 at 2:23 PM
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    Enjoyable and insightful post…as usual. Thanks and God Bless 🙂

    1. Thanks Del! I always appreciate your comments. Take care and best wishes in these last two months of the 201819 school year.

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