Opportunity or Catastrophe

It was my first year as Superintendent here in Saanich and I was extremely excited for my new beginning. Our senior team consisted of myself, two Assistant Superintendents and the Secretary-Treasurer (CFO). It was a really good team and one that I knew I could learn a lot from — it was an exciting time.

Within a few months I learned that both Assistant Superintendents would be moving on — one to a new job and the other to retirement. It was going to be a significant loss of institutional knowledge to the school district, including myself.

Was this an opportunity or a catastrophe?


The Japanese art of kintsugi teaches that broken objects are not something to hide but to celebrate by enhancing them with gold

It actually depends on your mindset. The ‘sky is falling’ crowd would find all sorts of reasons to despair. The optimist would look at it as an opportunity to find new ways of moving forward. I chose the latter.

Now, don’t get me wrong. There was certainly a small sense of ‘oh-oh’ at the beginning, but more because I hadn’t yet worked out a plan. I found the news actually quite motivating. Yes, there would be a significant shift in the team and a big loss of institutional knowledge, but it also gave me the opportunity to consider how else we might be able to support our schools, teachers and students in a better way.

Life is All About the Grey … But Does That Apply to Character?

As I get older I see more grey.  Ya, ya, ya … the hair jokes .. I get it.  Nice!

What I’m talking about are my observations that we don’t live in a binary world of ‘Yes or No’ , ‘Black or White’.  We just don’t typically live in “All or Nothing” scenarios.  Our world is a series of sliding position points along a continuum.   It isn’t static, measured once and labeled.  It is a complex, multi-dimensional, constantly evolving space.

Need proof?  OK.  Some examples that are right off the top of my head include:

  • musical ability.jpg

    Practice MAY make perfect

    Musical ability

  • Physical aptitude in sports
  • Cooking prowess
  • Home repair abilities
  • Computer use
  • Essay writing

The point being, we have some ability or knowledge in lots of areas — some are just more developed than others.  And in many cases increased practice results in improvement.

So our world is a patchwork of grey!  Different shades of ‘greyness’ which indicate our varying abilities.

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Building Better Schools Is All About Understanding Context

earl grey tea

Replicating Earl Grey Tea

We all want our schools to be successful.  So, when we see something working really well at one school there’s a tendency to want to replicate it somewhere else.  But how do we do that?  Is there a guaranteed way to ensure success?

Permit me to digress for just a moment into the world of science fiction …

Star Wars is the standard by which all other movies are measured.  Agreed.  However, I HAVE been known to watch the occasional Star Trek TV episode.  How cool was their food replicator on their starships?  You could produce any food or drink item just by asking the replicator computer to make it.  Poof!  Instant ice cream sundae, chocolate cake or Earl Grey tea.

  • No more cooking.
  • No more wasted time cleaning.
  • Instant replication of something you really like.

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