It’s hard to believe we’re already a month into the new school year! September went by quickly and saw some significant changes happen at the political level – we now have a new Premier and Minister of Education. We’re looking forward to building a positive working relationship with both Premier Prentice and Minister Dirks, so we can make even bigger strides in supporting our nearly 90,000 students.
When I read through the Minister’s mandate letter, it’s a great feeling to know that Edmonton Public Schools is a leader in many of the important areas he’s set to focus on. It’s also reassuring that the areas our Board will focus on this year to support our Vision, Mission and Priorities align with what’s outlined in the letter. Our goals for 2014-15 are to make gains in addressing our infrastructure issues; support early education programs and help more students have a clear idea of what direction they would like to head in after they leave high school – whether that involves going into post-secondary education or the workforce. We’re taking a huge, exciting step forward in this work through our new Career Pathways Model – an initiative spearheaded by our Superintendent that will span all grades, K-12, and allow us to reimagine the ways we support student success at every point in their educational journey.
We want to help Minister Dirks fulfill the key elements of his new role, and also nurture the work that’s allowing us to stay ahead of the curve. To me, you could call this approach, “Mandate Plus.” At the heart of it is to do everything we can to connect with all levels of government, community organizations, district staff and parents to help our students experience success, now and well into the future.
In the coming days, we’re committed to strengthening the work we’re doing around the curriculum redesign project the province started last year. For us, this is about ensuring our students’ core competencies in reading, writing and arithmetic are strong, while at the same time providing them with rich opportunities to develop their problem solving and critical thinking skills. We recognize that the world is changing at a faster pace than ever before, and our students need to have a wide range of skills that will help them be successful in the 21st century.
Assessment and consistent grading is another area the Minister will be looking at. Here, I’m proud of the efforts we’ve made to have meaningful conversations with our parents and district staff over a two year consultation process. This work resulted in every one of our schools having an assessment plan posted on their website, so parents and students can easily find and understand it.
Developing creative solutions to our infrastructure challenges is also going to be important. We continue to explore ways we can relieve enrolment pressures in growing neighbourhoods and work with communities to revitalize mature areas in our city. For example, in August, we requested five temporary ‘starter schools’ (K-3) that could help meet our needs in parts of the city that have many children, but no school facilities. This is a short-term solution that we believe will have long-term benefits as the structures could be relocated to future areas of pressure while permanent school buildings are constructed. We’re also really pleased with the replacement school project that will happen in the Beverly area. This will involve one state of the art facility being built to meet the needs of this neighbourhood. I’m confident we’ll be able to create an even greater sense of community through this initiative.
There are some major challenges ahead of us, but we have an excellent opportunity to work with Minister Dirks and Premier Prentice to shape good opportunities for collaboration and partnership. I’m eager to get started and do our very best for the students and families we serve!
Our District Recognition Award nomination deadline is fast approaching on October 16. If you know a student, staff member, parent/community member or team that inspires you with their passion and dedication, nominate them for a District Recognition Award! I love this event for so many reasons. Every year, it lets us shine a well-deserving spotlight on incredible people who do fantastic work to support our students and communities. It’s really a wonderful awards night that reminds us how awesome a place Edmonton Public Schools is and the power public education has to make a true difference in peoples’ lives.
Learn more about how to submit a nomination in the service, team or merit categories.