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Superintendent's Notebook - June 2015

Building a strong foundation for success

As we come to the end of June and look towards the summer, I’m really proud of what we we’ve been able to accomplish this school year. The last several months offered its fair share of challenges, but what I’ve seen from our staff working in every corner of the city is an amazing ability to create predictability in a world of unpredictability. Regardless of the political shifts that happened this spring and their impact on the provincial budget, or the increasing complexity and pressures we faced in our classrooms, our staff pulled together to ensure predictability. They held the course and worked hard for our students.  

Every day, staff, parents and community members from all walks of life are showing what it means to live by our cornerstone values of equity, collaboration, integrity and accountability. These values continue to help us learn, grow and adapt. They’re helping us to become an even more resilient organization that delivers hope and opportunity to the students and families we serve.

This year proved that our values aren’t just words on paper. Collaboration, for example, was a strong force for positive change, taking what we call catchment work – professional development that’s shared among groups of schools – to a whole new level. It’s been incredible to see principals, teachers and support staff from across grade levels come together on common PD days to dig deeper into important topics that lead to dynamic supports and interventions for our students. From where I stand, collaboration is one of the most critical vehicles we have to move the yard stick in terms of improving results for kids. Catchment work will continue to help our teachers learn from one another and acquire the skills and knowledge they need to help our students overcome their challenges and experience success.  

Our focus on equity is also having a remarkable impact on how we’re approaching some of the biggest issues we face as a District. This cornerstone value is empowering us to be even more thoughtful and innovative in how we level the playing field for every student who walks through our doors. Using resources from our Equity Fund, we’re enhancing our efforts to meet the diverse needs of our most vulnerable students. In the years ahead, we’ll also move forward with Career Pathways – a K-12, District-wide initiative that’s aimed at helping students transition into a career that brings them dignity and fulfillment. As well, we’re going to keep on working with parents, community, and the municipal and provincial governments to create lasting solutions for how we deal with growth pressures in new neighbourhoods and revitalize mature areas of our city. At the heart of our District Infrastructure Plan is a commitment to create a legacy of great learning spaces for all students, regardless of where they live.

It’s hard to believe, but I’m already two years into the job as Superintendent. It’s been absolutely humbling to serve a District filled with people who want to make a difference in the lives of kids. Without a doubt, their dedication has helped to shape Edmonton Public Schools’ unbreakable spirit.

There’s something truly inspiring about seeing a school district as large as ours unify around a set of common values. Our ambition to do better and be better for our students is pushing us to raise the bar and accomplish things we didn’t think were possible. That tells me the road ahead is paved with trust, passion and determination, and I couldn’t be more excited for what the future holds.