Usually I would begin my January message with a happy new year salutation. Instead, I begin this post reflecting on the sudden passing of one of our staff members. Mrs. Linda Goruk, an Early Learning Program Leader at Ecole St. Mary School passed away suddenly last week. The staff from Ecole St. Mary and the early learning program gathered in prayer on Saturday. It allowed us to hold on to one another, cry, hurt and heal. Our ability to meet in prayer gave us much comfort in our sorrow. Although it was a dull winter day in Lethbridge, the sun seemed to shine brightly in the chapel area and reminded us of the the joy that Linda brought to the school and especially to the children she worked with every day. She was a bright light who will be sorely missed by her family, friends and all of Holy Spirit. Our prayers go out to her husband, her children and the rest of the family. May God continue to bless them with comfort and strength.
December was a significant month in many respects. At their regular meeting, the Board passed and submitted the 2013-15 Infrastructure Maintenance and Renewal Expenditure Plan. The government provides funding for the following purposes:
- To replace building and site components, which have failed or pose health and safety problems for students and staff;
- To extend the useful life of school facilities and sites;
- To maintain the quality of the school environment.
The presentation for the Board can be found here. Another major item at the board meeting was the re-write of Policy 18 Appendix A to align with government policy regarding travel, meal and hospitality expenses. For a complete recap of the meeting, please check out the Board Meeting Briefs.
The month of December also saw the conclusion of tripartite agreement discussions between the Government of Alberta, provincial ATA and ASBA. The desire to have a provincial and long term agreement with teachers in the province was not realized. The result will be a return to local bargaining throughout the province. Near the end, the discussions were mainly bilateral in nature between the government and provincial ATA. To be fair to both staff and all of our stakeholders, I’m including links to both the government and ATA websites that clearly outlines positions, offers and other information.
Although news from the government on the fiscal realities of not only the province but throughout Canada was not positive, our division will continue to prosper and meet the varied needs of our students in 2013. Beginning on January 7th, schools will be welcoming registrations for our early learning and kindergarten programs. These programs, with their focus on inquiry based learning in a creative, collaborative and play-based environment continue to be renowned for their excellence in the province. A great start for students in early learning programs leads to success in high school and beyond. Our schools are well involved in our division AISI focus on Learner Intellectual Engagement. It is exciting for me as Superintendent to observe the diverse strategies being utilized in our classrooms to better engage our students. Our schools are continually transforming to better meet the needs of our students and support Alberta Education’s Framework for Student Learning. A supportive initiative to this work is our Collaborative Peer Mentor Program. Continuing to build teacher capacity is at the forefront of any educational transformative agenda.
As you begin 2013, I hope and pray that you and your family will be blessed with much hope, health and happiness. And I leave you with this Irish quote that I read on Twitter the other night:
In the New Year, may your right hand always be stretched out in friendship, but never in want.