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:






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.

About Esmé Comfort

My husband Jim and I moved to the Bow Valley in 1980, settling in Canmore in 1983. Both my children were born in Canmore and attended K -12 in Canadian Rockies Public Schools District (CRPS), French Immersion. For the past six years I served as vice-chair of the board. Alberta Government support to the CRPS Inspiring Hearts & Minds initiative created opportunities for provincial, national and international outreach. In the past I held positions on the Canmore Daycare Board, the preschool board, and various school councils/PACs; I served as president of the local chapter of Canadian Parents for French for five years and sat on the provincial board for two. I currently sit on the board of the Canmore Folk Music Festival, work full time at an events management firm and edit, copy-edit and proofread on contract. My husband and I ran a small main street business for 18 years: supply and install floor wall and window coverings.
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4 Responses to SVIE – Excellence by any other name…

  1. Steve Greene says:

    Thanks for continuing to put our messages out there!!

  2. Deb Cavanaugh says:

    Esme, it was great to see you. Thank you for your input and your keen listening ear! I hope to be able to work with you again with our shared vision of instructional excellence in mind. Deb

  3. Darren says:

    Thanks for the post Esme. Fullan used the phrase “walk the talk”. It is important for us as instructional leaders to do that. Thanks for your input into our shared vision.

  4. Nadine says:

    Thank you Esmé for you insightful inputs! Your personal stories as well as your parental perspectives certainly added to our rich dialogues!

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