Reflections from 2021-2022 – HOPE Paves the Path to Success

OUR NEW STRATEGIC PLAN

We created a new district Strategic Plan this year. After a 13 month journey of data analysis, consultation and community outreach the Board of Education approved a plan that will be a 5-year blueprint for our district. It’s an exciting document as it sets our focused priorities. At its core are four themes:

  • Literacy
  • Indigenous Learner Success
  • Mental Health & Wellness
  • Global Citizenship

What makes this plan so powerful are three things:

(1) It has deliberate FOCUS on a few key areas,

(2) It’s based on thousands of pieces of DATA, and

(3) It had significant INPUT FROM our COMMUNITY.

The Plan is already being referenced by our community because it resonates. There’s excitement and anticipation — there’s hope for a better tomorrow. This is going to be a busy time, but also a fun one as we put the pieces in place to improve student success. The Plan is written in a storybook format, it’s succinct and it’s eye-catchingly beautiful. You can read it by clicking on the image.

TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION

Indigenous learners have long been subject to a colonial system of education that has not adequately addressed the challenges they face. And while we have made some systemic progress, our path is just beginning.

I am learning. I have much further to travel.

The road we travel is equal in importance to the destination we seek. There are no shortcuts. When it comes to truth and reconciliation we are forced to go the distance.

Justice Murray Sinclair, Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada

Our collective consciousness was awakened this past year when hundreds of children’s unmarked graves were discovered across Canada. Our country’s history with the oppression of Indigenous peoples including residential schools, day schools, and the 60s Scoop paints a picture of trauma and loss, as well as a collective responsibility to make things right. As a community and as an education system, we all own the path towards reconciliation.

I am learning. I have much further to travel.

I am proud of the work we have already done in Saanich to address Indigenous student success, but I continue to be motivated to do more. The work in front of us is difficult. We do not have all of the answers, but our obligation and path are clear. There are still many barriers to break down including systemic racism in our community and in our schools — in the structures we have, in the words we use and the actions we take.

We are all learning. We need to travel together.

THE PANDEMIC – A SHADOW BUT NOT A WALL

Even my dog is grateful

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the pandemic — not about the virus itself, but the work that our team has done to overcome its shadow.

We have stayed the course through the pandemic these past 2.5 years — true to our path of following health experts, putting student needs first, and reaching out to our community during a tumultuous time. There have certainly been some complaints, but many more words of thanks and an appreciation for the consistency we’ve shown.

We have traversed the pandemic’s shadow and realized that it was not an impenetrable wall.

I am so proud of our entire team — their efforts and determination to do what’s BEST for kids. I feel lucky to be a part of this family of professionals.

PANDEMIC THANK YOU

One more thing about the pandemic …

A big thank you to our on-call staff — teachers, EAs, clerical staff, custodial staff and bus drivers. They sometimes don’t get the recognition they deserve for being an integral part of our success. During the pandemic they were there when we needed them — going to different sites or classrooms and giving it their ‘all’. During the Omicron period we have needed them more than ever! I am grateful for their dedication in providing some of the critical service we need to keep our schools running.

WE’RE NOT GOING BACK

The world has changed. Even simple things like staying home when we’re sick or keeping hand sanitizer nearby — changes that have made us more aware of our surroundings and our personal responsibilities. That’s a good thing.

The Educational Future is Bright

The learning agenda has also changed, and we’ve taken some lessons from it.

Here are a few:

  • We CAN change what we teach and how we do it.
  • We are adaptable, creative and resilient.
  • Some learning resources, technologies and methodologies were great and some showed flaws.
  • Some students benefitted from the changes and some did not.

So, the big question as we move out of the pandemic is this — What do we keep, what do we alter and what do we abandon? The question is both exciting and daunting, and it will dominate lots of our conversations in the years ahead as we implement the Strategic Plan.

FAMILY

Friends and Family – It’s What Counts

And speaking of family, I’m blessed to have my wife and children, but I also feel lucky to have others who are part of my inner circle — and I include close friends and colleagues in this group. You know who you are!

Everyone had challenges this past year — whether it was COVID related or another event that transpired. We are all living with ‘stuff’. Having family around me has always been a big part of how I manage those moments. So, at this time I’d like to thank ALL of you who are an important part of my life. I am so fortunate to have you in my world.

PUTTING ANOTHER SCHOOL YEAR TO REST

Obi-Wan Kenobi – Star Wars

As we move towards the annual summer break, thank you to both my professional and personal families for making this year a success.

We have much to be grateful for and much to look forward to as we prepare for another year of adventures, learning and growth. It’s going to be a fantastic ride.

Wishing all of you good health and good fortune. Have a wonderful summer.

May the Force be with You

Dave

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