I speak and write a LOT about the need for change in public education — necessary change because we haven’t yet met every child’s potential. That might be an unreachable target, but it doesn’t mean we should give up trying to be better than we are today.
I’m not naive to the notion that my desire for change might leave a perception of ‘doom and gloom’ about public education — that we aren’t doing anything correct at the moment.
And that’s simply not true.
I am proud of many things that we are currently doing in our schools, primarily due to the efforts from our teachers and administrators — true innovators in our system.
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?
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.
Being an administrator in the public education system has meant that I’ve had a few conversations with people where the content was difficult for me to share and, in most cases, even more difficult for the other person to hear.
Some examples …
Meeting with a student who has not achieved to their potential;
Conversing with parents about their child’s struggles;
Debriefing with a staff member who was not successful in an interview;
Sharing the tragic news of a student or staff member who has died. Unfortunately, I’ve had to do this a few times in my career.