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
where I met a hero of mine, Michaëlle Jean;
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.
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”? Grade 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.