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Superintendent's Notebook - September 2013

Moving forward together

In June, I was honoured to become Edmonton Public Schools' new Superintendent. When I was announced by our Board Chair in front of district leaders, it was humbling for me because it marked the culmination of a 17 year journey with the school district. I've devoted my entire career to public education and formed a deep respect and appreciation for its power to transform the lives of students, their families and our communities.

I enter this role inspired by our past and excited by what I know we can accomplish in the future. During my time as a teacher, curriculum co-ordinator, assistant principal, principal, supervisor, director and managing director, I saw how much skill, passion and dedication stretches across this entire organization - in our school communities and our central departments. These experiences convinced me that the system of public education is a bridge to hope and opportunity, and it's only as strong as the people who support it. One of my major goals as Superintendent is to unleash the talent of staff, parents and community members, so we can rally behind a clear purpose: to help our kids achieve success.

Working together to support a common vision lies at the heart of social capital - a conceptual tool I feel has strong ties to education, and can help us improve results for students. Social capital is all about relationships and the trust we create when groups of people collectively tackle issues, solve problems and overcome challenges. When different voices and perspectives are heard, better decisions are made and we enhance co-operative action in our communities - that's what opens the door to progress and positive change. Schools have a vital role in fostering this co-operation by providing meaningful opportunities for staff, parents and community members to engage in the work of supporting student success. Research shows how critical this participation is: communities with higher levels of social capital do a better job in educating their children than those with lower levels.

One of the most powerful things about social capital is that it doesn't cost anything. Money isn't a factor - all that truly matters is the intentional leadership we dedicate towards relationship building. There are already many examples of schools creating social capital within our District. Through their work to form networks of support inside and outside their buildings, they're offering students the chance to benefit from experiences that are shaping their development in a holistic way.

I'm proud to lead a District of over 10,000 staff members who are more than capable of ensuring each of our students can achieve to the best of their ability. Growing up in a small town in northern Alberta, I never imagined the opportunities public education would offer me and how it would impact my life and career. I look forward to working with all of you to create these same kinds of pathways to success for all kids - ones that will help them realize their limitless potential.