So long and fare-thee-well…

Close up of a graduation cap and a certificate with a ribbonIt is time to close this blog. As of 8 p.m., Monday, October 21st, 2013, I am no longer a Public School Board Trustee. The past nine years of my life have been inextricably bound to things educational – locally, at the provincial level, nationally and globally. It’s been a gift. I will leave the posts up for the time being… deathless prose and all that.

My education WILL continue…there is no graduation ceremony for that…well, maybe, but let’s not go there. I will no longer be posting here, since my journey as a Public School Board Trustee is now done. Kim Bater, Banff Trustee has a blog here and Leanne McKeown, Canmore Trustee also, here. Carol Picard, newly elected chair, is making threatening noises about launching a blog of her own.

You can find me wearing my Councillor-for-the-Town-of-Canmore hat at a new location soon. I am still prepping for it! Meanwhile, I have maintained my Facebook page, Esmé Comfort, Canmore Town Councillor for news and views.

And, make no mistake, you will still hear from me about Public Education and all the other things😉

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Public Education needs your support, so you should RUN!

Rose the dog, our dog runs with complete abandon and yet intense focus.

Rose, our dog, runs with complete abandon and yet intense focus; if you run, run like this: FLAT OUT!

Next Monday – September 23rd – at 10 a.m., municipal council, mayoral and School Board nominations open across Alberta; candidates will declare their intention to run in the upcoming election on October 21, 2013. A scant two hours later, at noon, we’ll see who is stepping forward. This go-round I will stand for council and not School Board. If I could figure out a way to do both I would, but let me tell you why you should run for school board trustee… or at least give it due consideration!

An election (vs. acclamations) gets the conversation going, issues get closely examined; the community talks to each other. NEW this election:

  • Only five (5) -NOT seven – seats are on the Board: two in Banff, two in Canmore, one in Exshaw
  • The term is four (4) years – not three, as previously.

You don’t have to be an education ‘expert’ to be a trustee. Experience on an active board or an understanding of governance would be helpful, but willingness to act as a team player, to learn about the issues – the context, history and complexity of each one – and to have the best interests of all students in your mind and heart – these capacities make for a great trustee.

My past nine years of trusteeship have seen significant change at the provincial and local level. The government of Alberta has revised The School Act; locally we continue with “Inspiring Hearts & Minds”. There is positive change in the district, now led by Superintendent Chris MacPhee. The next board members will be part of a wave of innovation and exciting advances.

Don’t know much about campaigning? There is a lot of help from many quarters. Check on the homepage of CRPS www.crps.ab.ca for information and links about nomination, campaigning and other relevant topics. A little shy about putting yourself in the spotlight? Well, it’s a pretty friendly crowd. You’ll get a lot of credit for just coming forward. Civility and respect are characteristic of Bow Valley local elections. Listening, doing your homework and being clear about your intentions will see you through.

I fervently hope there’ll be enough candidates for school board (and council, for that matter) to kick democracy into action!

Trustee Mt. Rundle Ward (until Oct. 21, 2013) esme.comfort@crps.ca

“To empower students to be their finest – Today and Tomorrow.”

« Encourager les élèves à faire de leur mieux aujourd’hui et demain! »

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What I did this summer…And we are OPEN!

August 28, 2013, is opening day for Canadian Rockies Public Schools (CRPS). It is also two months since my last post. I attended the Canadian School Boards’ Association annual conference in Vancouver

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Me August 3 Download 2013 022

where I met a hero of mine, Michaëlle Jean;

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got to Vancouver Island for the first time in decades; BC ROAD TRIP JULY 2013 011

volunteered at Canmore Folk Music Festival (had a ball); Me August 3 Download 2013 004

 

 

went to the CNE for the first time and saw the Flying Wallendas; Me August 27 Download 2013 120

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

was a guest at a Jewish wedding ceremony for the first time Me August 27 Download 2013 166

 

 

 

 

 

BUT of all that – and the rest of the summer – another time. For now I’ll start with today’s activities and then work my way backwards to catch up.

I just returned from attending the kick-off pancake breakfast at Canmore Collegiate High School. The morning’s agenda included a presentation which included a recap of the summer, the achievements of the 2012 – ’13 school year and a get-up-and-roll inspirational boost for the coming year.

The CCHS theatre was packed. Kim Bater, School Board Chair, had us all focus our energy and thoughts with a short meditation. He reminded us that the stories we all tell will determine how the world will view us, then asked “What story will you tell?” The recounting of some flood stories as told by Superintendent Chris MacPhee had everyone’s attention riveted. The school division was intimately involved in the events that unfolded beginning on June 19-20. We were proud to be called upon to serve the community. From the transportation department to the principals, custodians, IT department, maintenance, the supe – everyone – fulfilled their roles; they stepped up when (sometimes before) they were asked. It was a reaffirmation of our key place in this Valley.

Then Chris talked about his “Victory Log”. So great.  Like a sea voyage, the victories the division reaches are enumerated and then reflected back to the community. Earlier today I went to the Rotary breakfast. One of the speakers there was the founder of an orphanage in Manzanillo, Mexico. She stressed to us that along with education, it is hope, self-worth and love that allow people to succeed. The hard work put in by our teachers, staff and administrators at CRPS will provide the students with an excellent education; the care, pride and love used to deliver that education will fuel the desire of the kids to make their way in the world and to give back.  I am reeling from a surfeit of inspirational input: August 28, 2013, is also the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech.

It is going to be a great year. The significant advances made by the IT staff and their Wild Rose School Division colleagues are going to increase the capacity of our students to use technology in the ways recommended by this checklist. Tech right and wrong

Bringing in the Alpenglow Community School under the CRPS tent challenged the Board and its district staff, but we persevered and now the CRPS world will be the richer for it. The Kascades outdoor experiential program holds tremendous promise for students now and far into the future, in a way that fits Inspiring Hearts & Minds wonderfully well. The SVIE – Shared Vision of Instructional Excellence – “describes our collective core beliefs about children, learning, the roles of teachers, and the fundamental actions that bring those beliefs to life. We have expressed these fundamental actions as competencies that reflect the type of educators we are becoming. These competencies are specific, research-based, and observable commitments that we are making to our school communities.”  An exciting development from Alberta Education is the use of PATs as formative assessment: the tests will be given at the beginning of the school year as a launching pad rather than the end as a snapshot of learning at a particular moment in time. SVIE is homegrown and relevant to our teachers, and that will benefit our students.

Upcoming, our Superintendent will be asking for input on our existing mission, vision and beliefs and how does that jive with “Inspiring Hearts & Minds”? inspiringheartssmallGrade reconfiguration and reshaping our schools will continue as we explore options with Bow Valley College and the Banff Centre as well as other partners. Also upcoming is a municipal election, which includes school board trustees. Two main changes for this next term: there will only be two, rather than three, trustees from Banff and from Canmore while Exshaw will still have one seat, for a total of five; the next term will be four (not three) years. I encourage anyone who believes in the value of public education to run for office.

Lastly, when I become less optimistic or less hopeful than usual, this picture uplifts me: my grandson, Jack. You are welcome.🙂image

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#abflood, Farewells & the Future

June 28 2013 016As I prep for departure to Vancouver Island for a short holiday before getting to the Canadian School Boards Association annual conference in Vancouver next Thursday, this image of running on empty best suits my frame of mind. The last few weeks have been very busy with a variety of events and occurrences  – and then arrived the flood. While we remained “high and damp”, as my husband said, I was not unaffected by anxiety as we watched the Bow River – a mere two blocks away – rise and rise and rise, fasterandfasterandfaster until it finally crested and the danger was past. Many in our circle were hit by the flood; it was impossible not to want to do, to help. We took in a “refugee” from Exshaw and were glad to have her; we were thrilled to reunite her with her family, once conditions improved. I want to commend Canadian Rockies Public Schools staff and Superintendent Chris MacPhee for their performance during the flood.

Below is a pastiche of images. I am, frankly, almost dumbstruck – still processing the images of the last 10 days: the contrast and intensity of the experiences: the courage, resilience and solidarity of the Exshaw residents, the power of water + topography, the gamut of emotion from fear to elation… I am so welcoming the holidays. Last night I was delighted to attend the Banff Grad…the bracket on the leading edge was the Exshaw Grade Eight Farewell (thrilled that all the students have opted to go to Canmore Collegiate High School). Another year done…looking to 2013- 2014.

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The Canadian Rockies Public Schools bus yard Thursday, June 20 morning

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Aboriginal Day celebrations at the Banff Centre – a collaboration between Exshaw and Banff Elementary School had to be cancelled.

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Do we have diversity in our schools? I think we do. #apictureisworth1000words

TCH before n  after

This picture is not mine – if I knew whose it was, I’d give credit where credit is due! Let me know if you know.

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Our Exshaw School sheltered residents from the storm. So proud we could help…humbled by the stories and selfless generosity witnessed in the past week.

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Not a week after the highway fell away – all filled in and paving is happening. Mind-boggling! #pitterpattergetather

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Puddles appeared and quickly became ponds.

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The Bow rose even higher than this, but this is the last picture I took.

June 21 2013 047 June 21 2013 048 June 22 2013 017 June 22 2013 025 June 23 2013 020 June 28 2013 004 June 28 2013 005 June 28 2013 006 June 28 2013 007 June 28 2013 008 June 28 2013 009 June 28 2013 011 June 28 2013 013 June 28 2013 014 June 16 2013 010 June 16 2013 012 June 16 2013 013 June 16 2013 015 June 16 2013 075 June 20 2013 029 June 20 2013 BIG 006 June 21 2013 042 June 21 2013 049 June 23 2013 035 June 23 2013 036 June 23 2013 037 June 23 2013 042 June 23 2013 044 June 23 2013 048 June 23 2013 051 June 23 2013 081 June 23 2013 083 June 172013 011 TCH before n  after

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SVIE – Excellence by any other name…

may 2 2013 007

Faces of Educational Leadership Excellence: L-R Chris Rogers, VP, Canmore Collegiate High School; Darren Dick, Director of Learning and Innovation at Canadian Rockies Public Schools; Steve Greene, Principal, Banff Community High School

On May 1st and 2nd, Darren Dick led a group of us through…well, let me use his own words from the invitation:

“CRPS began a journey of exploring instructional excellence over the course of the year (2012-2013) by engaging some of our finest teachers and administrators to collaborate on a Shared Vision of Instructional Excellence (SVIE).  A continuation of Inspiring Hearts and Minds and aligned with Inspiring Education, the SVIE is envisioned to be a non-evaluative, organic resource that guides all staff in their continued growth towards achieving success for all students.  The group has met regularly over the course of the year and is looking to inform you of their work and give opportunity for feedback in preparation for implementation next year.”

 

This is exciting. It is building on the work CRPS teachers are ALREADY doing.

A natural progression was followed for the 1-1/2 day session: “Believing – Behaving – Becoming”.  First up: Beliefs. Using the Guiding Questions: “What are my beliefs? Which SVIE belief(s) resonate with me? Is there anything missing? What questions do
I have?” and the material we had been given, our table explored our own beliefs. I defer to the educators (as much as I can – you know how I love to jump in!). CRPS teachers are amazing. The reflection and analysis that veteran teachers are willing to subject to their practice was impressive.

I should say that actually first up was a wee crayon and paper exercise: Draw something to express your vision of instructional excellence. First I tried to draw a mortarboard with a wreath of stars, musical notes, roses and lightning bolts. This proved a little ambitious for my graphic artistic ability, so here’s what I drew:may 2 2013 003

Pretty prosaic, hey? Darren shared some of the sketches with us the next day and asked folks who wanted to to speak to the creations. Some wonderful sentiments, profound thoughts and sheer fun/hilarity was had by all.

This initiative is being followed by the Alberta Ministry of Education and we were pleased to welcome Karen Shipka, Associate Director, Workforce Planning & Development and Joe Dumont, Education Manager, Professional Development & Leadership to the activities. This is serious, important work. And work that teachers love.

Behaving is walking the talk of the beliefs, put the meat on the bones of the belief framework.  Interestingly, the wheel/circle symbol/graphic resurfaced again and again, CRPS Inspiring Hearts & Minds:

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Alberta Education’s Inspiring Action: Insp Ed

 

 

 

 

 

and a multitude of symbolic suns/sources of light in those sketches Darren had us all do.

Becoming. Becoming is the shared vision to unify all of these into one way of being, so this is not a school system with layered projects but this is who we are and what we do. There will be much more on SVIE as it is unrolled throughout the schools,  school councils and community. I am still recovering from the barrage of input – emotional, intellectual, spiritual – of the last few days. Stay tuned – I can’t wait to watch how our kids will thrive.

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Retreat – Advance! Put yourself out there.

What. A. Week.

April 1A 2013Seven days ago, Canadian Rockies Public School Board emerged from its retreat. Location? The exotic remote confines of the Canmore Board Office boardroom, aka the Superintendent’s office. Guided by the sure hand of Jim Gibbons, former superintendent and now consultant for the Alberta School Boards Association. On Saturday morning, the board evaluated the superintendent; Saturday afternoon we evaluated ourselves. Suffice it to say, it was a feedback rich session…formative assessment.

Hadfield blog post

Photo taken April 18, 2013 by Col. Chris Hadfield, Cmdr. International Space Station

While we might not have achieved the altitude shown in the image of earth from space taken by Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, that is our aspiration…lofty, no? Yes, pun intended.

Sunday morning, 9:00 a.m., we were back at it. Jim led us through a review of the previous day’s work. We examined where the emphasis will lie as we plan a positive path forward, using the information obtained in the assessment process. This was for both the board and the CEO. Kudos to our superintendent, Chris MacPhee, for agreeing to a 360 degree assessment, “a method of systematically collecting opinions about an individual’s performance from a wide range of coworkers”. The opinions are anonymous – which might give one pause – but in this case the feedback was considered and professional. The most important part of the process will be how Chris takes the received info and moves forward with it to inform his practice.
The discussion got somewhat freewheeling as we tackled: results-based budgeting; the new School Act; how we measure/assess what we do (Key Performance Indicators – KPI); strategic planning; Inspiring Hearts & Minds; Community Education Network. At one point, our chair Kim Bater became a visual metaphor for what was going on in the room: he started juggling fruit! Jim Gibbons, our meister-facilitator, admitted that we were one of the boards that managed to divert him away from the process because we explore and advance the thinking and sense-making. At the finish I felt invigorated, focused and prepared for the work ahead.

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Appropriate risk-taking is a part of a meaningful education. So in that spirit, armed with new energy (and validation from multiple friends by whom I ran my routine – bless you all!),  the next day, April 15th, I performed my first stand-up comedy gig.  It was a great learning process through which our group of 12 volunteer comics was mentored by the team at ZEDS Comic Communications (Our Business is a Joke). My colleagues were a huge support and it was a great experience. Best moment of the night had to be when my family said they were proud of me. Suffice to say, I am glad I did it BUT it was not the launch of a new career.  It felt like this:

so just for now I’ll stay on the merry-go-round, thanks!

The merry-go-round/roller-coaster story makes a great segue to other events last week.  Tuesday was the meeting of the Safe & Caring Schools committee to hone the Administrative Procedure – important work and we are getting there, because the right people are at the table. Wednesday,  7 p.m. brought the Public School Board meeting at Banff Elementary School, with very weighty matters on the agenda:  final vote to reduce the number of trustees from seven to five and discussion of the plebiscite to institute a Special School Tax Levy. The attendance was underwhelming – one member of the press and our Assistant Superintendent, Kate Belford. *sigh* A Banff parent also arrived a little later, I have to admit. We were glad to see her and inundated her with questions. Quite put her on the spot, we did.

The most important matter was that the Third Reading of bylaw 2013-1 passed. In the October 2013 election, there will be only five seats on the board: one from Exshaw, and two each from Canmore and Banff. You can read the rationale for the decision on the CRPS website – and, later this week, in the local papers.

looking_down

Photo: Courtesy of Catalin Marin | Momentaryawe.com at http://www.momentaryawe.com/blog/?p=1243

Much unknown territory lies ahead. This photo is for me another visual metaphor: there are going to be ups, downs, tilting cambers, curves and crumbling steps but we shall advance, together. On the horizon: the settlement with the teachers. Read the Alberta Teachers’ Association take and also an excellent information sheet from the Alberta School Councils’ Association with sample questions for parents to take to principals, trustees and superintendents. The Minister has given a May 14th deadline for an agreement. On it goes.

And spring is on the way! Despite a wintry wonderland for our hike yesterdayApril 22 2013 007, when we went in search of open water – looking for geese and swans (sure signs of milder, kinder weather) – we found them. April 22 2013 019

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Big decisions in a tiny perfect school district

equality_house-Vivian-Mosierx400It is serendipity that the news about Equality House emerged yesterday, on the eve of Canadian Rockies Public Schools presenting ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEDURE (AP)172 re: Sexual Minority/Sexual Orientation/Gender Identity. The house is across the street from the infamous Westboro Baptist Church – I won’t post a link to the website, it is that execrably hate-filled. Google it if you must. The story prompted me to post before our board meeting tonight, Canmore Collegiate High School. There is a LOT on the agenda, which you can see here.

I am proud that the AP will be brought forward tonight; it is the culmination of earlier work. From the minutes of November  29, 2011:

Trustee Comfort initiated a discussion on the matter of ensuring that schools provide a safe and welcoming environment free of harassment and discrimination against sexual minorities. Edmonton Public Schools and other Boards in Canada have developed policy to ensure the safety of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students and staff in schools.  Motion: E. Comfort:
That Administration be directed to review the work of Edmonton Public Schools in the development of their policy on sexual orientation and gender identity, and bring forward a recommended Administrative Procedure to support and protect sexual minorities in Canadian Rockies Public Schools.  Carried. And it was unanimous.

I know the pain and bullying some of our students undergo. These policies and procedures will not stop all of that treatment but here we reaffirm who we are and what we expect from each other. And that builds a culture. Thanks to Kate Belford for her hard work in the research and recommendations, as this was crafted.

Brain made of handsTonight also will be third (and final) reading of the by-law to reduce the Trustees from seven to five. We have had some feedback, but no great hue-and-cry…we will see how the discussion goes this evening.  What do YOU think? Let us know. Many hands make light work but the savings are in the region of $20,000/year – every year… the loss is the diversity of experience, intelligence and opinion that more brains at the table bring. Here is a thoughtful piece from Chair Kim Bater on the topic.

Elizabeth Rummel Elementary School could be housing kindergarten to Grade 3 students only as soon at the fall of 2013.Justin Parsons/ Canmore Leader/ QMI Agency

Canmore Leader Photo

Also on the table is the closing of portables at ERS and the Grade Reconfiguration around that. It will change the character of two Canmore primary schools and eventually the high school as well. This has been discussed with school councils and the Community Education Network to the point we are ready to move ahead with a decision.

There’ll be lots of talk about money too, since the provincial budget is now in force. I’d like to see something on the CRPS website that shows in a simple way, the full effects of this budget. Parkland School Division has done a good job. Our superintendent, Chris MacPhee also has a message about the budget to CRPS staff , as well as board chair, Kim Bater, to school councils. skinny-piggy-bankThe budget is still being formulated; once it is complete, the chair and superintendent will visit each school to speak about the challenges in 2013 – 2014.

Those challenges have prompted the board to seriously consider conducting a Special School Tax Levy Plebiscite of 3% in this fall’s municipal and school board elections. It may not fly, but there are not many options open to the board to garner revenue.  We feel we must examine every possibility – however remote or improbable. We met with both Town of Banff and Town of Canmore Councils recently. Suffice it to say, neither group was enthusiastic about the idea. They did understand the need to explore it. This too is up for debate tonight.

We will go in camera to look at the agreement reached just last Friday by the Government of Alberta and the Alberta Teachers Association, to decide what the response of CRPS board to the Alberta School Boards’ Association will be.  You can see highlights of the agreement here.

Meanwhile the good work of teachers, students and administrators continues: Mr. Bittner is presenting tonight on a school garden/Urban agriculture proposal; The Science Fair was yesterday – 154 participants in the BCHS gym. THANK YOU Rotary for your support and Ms. Worobey for your hard work; We are still talking to Alpenglow Community School to see if we can bring them “into our tent”, as the saying goes; our partners at Parent Link have launched the “Gearing Up for Kindergarten”.

Not only are we the tiny perfect School District, we are the little engine that could, and can try to make the gears mesh and do right by our students.

See you tonight, I hope!

 

 

 

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A shout-out and thank you!

Rural FuturesI have had big fun since my last post. March 3-5, I attended the 2nd Annual Rural Education Symposium held right here in Canmore, at the Radisson Hotel & Conference Centre. Non-urban school boards from around Alberta came together to consider issues that affect us all. Many school districts find their student population shrinking – this impacts the diversity of curriculum that can be offered. The Minister of Education, MLA Jeff Johnson, joined us to hear about concerns and successes. mar 13 2013 007

There was much to mull over. One of the most intriguing ideas is that these school boards may well be some of the most forward-thinking and innovative in the province:  there is no choice to be otherwise and yet still provide students what they need. Now its worth has been established,  Alberta Rural Education Symposium looks like it will be a welcome annual event.

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Your distinguished panel of judges L-R: Ms. Michelle McDonell, teacher; Mr. Doug Purkis, teacher (ret.); The Snacketeria Lady, all the way from Exshaw!; and Mr. Soukas, community member (owner: Tommy’s Neighbourhood Pub, Banff)

March 13th, I went to Iron Chef competition, held in Ms. Susan Reid’s Foods class at Banff Community High School. Above, Ms. Reid introduces the judges and explains the event. The not-so-secret ingredient was…EGGS.EGGS mar 13 2013 097

And they were off! With just 30 minutes to produce delicious recipes: Pasta Carbonara, Breakfast Burrito, Pad Thai, Egg Tarts and Mini Florentine Frittatas, there’s no time to waste. Beating, chopping, frying, boiling, baking, dicing, spicing,

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Interesting to note – iPads and laptops were used to reference the recipes. Back in my day, the height of technology was a stand for the cookbook – version 2.0 had a clip to hold the correct page open. mar 13 2013 104Room 122 began to fill up with the aromas of garlic, lime, and simmering vegetables. The dishes were served up to the judges, who dug in. I was able to sample the Pasta Carbonara, prepared by Tommy Soukas, two-time and defending champ, and the Pad Thai, from Mr. Ian Higginbottom. Both dishes were yummy. The judges would have a tricky task, but for the excellent assessment sheet with rubrics Ms. Reid had provided.

And so, the winner – by half-a-point – the Mini Florentine Frittatas from Sage and Sady. Here they are, with the coveted Iron Chef apron. A good time was clearly had by all. Thanks for inviting me Ms. Reid, and thanks everyone for making me feel so at home. mar 13 2013 154

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“CYA” means… “Conduct Yourselves Accordingly”

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So it is a big one…today is my actual birthday, but last night my husband orchestrated a surprise birthday party: family, good friends, good food and laughter. No better recipe.  I am a lucky girl – actually, “old lady”.

Because it is my birthday, I am exercising my “birthday person” privileges by writing about what the heck I want. A theme has emerged for me over the last 10 days or so, and which prompted the title of this post: conducting oneself with kindness, assuming goodwill on the opposing side, and behaving like a grown up.

Feb 25 2013 015During a kaffeeklatsch with two pals that I hadn’t visited with in a while, one made the observation that if we three ruled the world,  we’d tell our people they must treat each other well, with consideration and respect, then send them on their way with the command: “Conduct yourselves accordingly…”

This civility motif continued when an educator I follow on Twitter – an arena known for bloviation, snark and intemperance, where razor-sharp wit is most often used to flay others rather than hone an argument – this fellow said “meant to say thanks for your positive and balanced voice in all the debate that seems to swirl around education.”. Wow.  I was so pleased to get this bouquet, because my style can get a wee bit, um, hyperbolic.

I’d love this to become a meme, that CYA became code for the act of behaving decently, with an altruistic attitude. It’s that idea of doing the right thing, even when no one is watching. What a world it would be. I’d love our students to manifest this deportment.

Lastly, I have been working on a committee to update Administration Policies and Procedures around Safe and Caring Schools, defining bullying and crafting a stand-alone policy/procedure regarding respect for diversity of sexual orientation. It is very important to get this right. I truly believe lives can depend on it. This video, a lovely animation of a Shane Koyczan work, imparts the pain that bullying, unkindness, and casual thoughtlessness inflicts on its victims. Since I don’t rule the world, as the sparklers on my cake extinguished, my birthday wish was: let us all be kinder to each other, let us all learn to take a breath and not ever unleash, unconsidered cruel words…like bullets, they can not be called back.

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My Valentine to my public school district: Canadian Rockies Public Schools (CRPS)

Feb 11 2013 018This picture of our home-grown Amaryllis blooms is meant to convey the love, respect and pride I hold for our community of schools. We aren’t perfect, but it is not for want of trying, or disciplined mindful work. I have seen examples of staff at all levels – teachers, custodians, bus drivers, educational assistants, principals, admin. assistants, senior administration – everyone – going above and beyond to make things work. Kudos and thank you.

kindy_regLast night I attended the Kindergarten Information & Registration Session at École Elizabeth Rummel School. I became quite nostalgic: both our boys, Ben and Beamer, went through school in Canmore. But how different it was then! When Beamer started in 1988, there was just one public school in Canmore. French Immersion (FI) – an alternative program –  had just been introduced the year prior (1987, ) but started at Grade 1; FI Kindergarten was established the following year. At the Info/Reg night 25 years ago, the parents were mostly moms; “I’ll do the car and house repair stuff, honey, you do the school stuff”. Last night moms and dads were almost equally represented.

By the time Ben rolled up in 1993, there were three public school buildings in Canmore (but only one elementary level). The separate and Francophone schools – also public – would open more than five years later. There was also a private school, Mountain Gate,  which opened in 1996 and closed at the end of the ’06 – ’07 year.

Now the registration for ’13 – ’14 has begun and there are more choices than ever. As the staff presented and the parents listened intently, I realized that the district’s strengths lie in our people. The focus of our district must be on doing what we do. We do it excellently well and will never stop striving to improve. I was a passionate advocate of public education back then – what I saw and heard last night reaffirmed my conviction.

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