From the Desk of the Superintendent- November 2012

The month of October always brings about the organizational meeting for the board. At this meeting, both the board chair and vice chair are selected and committee representation is decided. I am pleased to announce that Sandra Dufresne was acclaimed Board Chair and Terry O’Donnell was acclaimed Vice Chair. Both Sandra and Terry have demonstrated excellent leadership in their roles this past year and will continue to lead the work of the board. A full list of committee representation can be found in our meeting brief.
During the regular meeting of the board, the October 2012 Accountability Pillar Overall Summary was presented. This is a report card from Alberta Education that evaluates the performance of every school and school division in the province. Holy Spirit continues to be recognized  as a high performing division by registering very high or high achievement in 12 of 16 categories. This excellence demonstrates the high quality of education offered in our schools by talented and committed staff. It also recognizes the hard work of our students and the support we receive from parents and families.  Although our division excels in many areas, we still share the desire as professionals to continually improve our system. As communicated in an article I wrote for the Lethbridge Herald and shared in a blog post, we have begun a three year focus on learner engagement.  Schools continue to evolve to meet the needs of a society that has changed radically in the last number of decades and students need to learn how to learn to be successful.  Engagement requires students to be an integral part of their own learning shifting them from a compliant student to a committed learner. Each of our schools have developed plans to further engage our students.
Team Lethbridge was also a part of the board’s work in October. Board Chair Sandra Dufresne, trustee Bosco Baptista and I travelled to Edmonton to meet with MLA’s, Ministers and their departments. Eighteen organizations from Lethbridge and surrounding area participated in this event. While in Edmonton, the government introduced Bill 3- Education Act.  As of today, the Bill has passed both 1st and 2nd reading and is awaiting 3rd reading. Legal counsel for the Alberta Catholic School Trustees’ Assocation is reviewing the Bill to ensure that the rights of Catholic education are not infringed upon and will provide boards with feedback in the near future. Upon a cursory review of the Bill there are some positive changes that should benefit students. Student, parent, teacher and board responsibilities are clearly outlined and there is a focus on addressing bullying behaviour both in school and out. One of the initiatives that I will be pursuing this year is hosting 2 consultations (1 for parents only and 1 for staff only) on the topic of bullying related to the new legislation.  Stay tune for more details on this initiative as well as updates on Bill 3.
This coming weekend we celebrate Catholic Education Sunday. Pope Benedict XVI has declared 2012-13 to be the Year of Faith and therefore our theme for this year’s Catholic Education Sunday is Year of Faith: Embracing Evangelization. During this weekend’s masses, trustees, senior and school administrators will be reading a common message about Catholic Education in Holy Spirit. Alberta is only one of three provinces (Saskatchewan and Ontario) that has publicly funded Catholic Education. Many families coming from out of province or country are surprised to learn of this gift. Please ensure that you communicate that Catholic Education is not privately funded and tuition based as in most provinces and states.
On behalf of the Board of Trustees and Senior Administration, I would like to wish you an enjoyable month of November!

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