January 2017: A Note From Tony

Happy New Year Prairie South Friends!  The snow is falling today in Moose Jaw; depending on who you ask in the office, this is either great or terrible… I’m going with the former!

It’s great to be back at work after a holiday break.  We had a quiet holiday at our house, with all three of our daughters home for at least part of the holiday.  We spent a day at Sandra’s family farm, and a day in Balgonie at my sister’s home and other than that, we stayed pretty close to home.  The kids tolerated our regular holiday ice-fishing excursion, which is always full of laughs and never results in any fish being caught.

In August, I spoke to teachers about the importance of staying focused on the things that were important and about not being distracted by the clutter.  We know that the important things are those things that happen every day in classrooms and schools.  We know that they always involve kids and teachers, and they often involve families and other adults who care about helping children and youth be successful.  My job, and the work of all of the people in the system who don’t work directly with children, is to support positive learning interactions with kids.  A success story that we should all be celebrating is connected to our fall reading scores for our grades 2 and 3 students.  As a division, we have the best results we have ever recorded using Fountas and Pinnel for these grades at this time of year.  This is something to celebrate, because the movement to better and better outcomes for our students is something that we have worked on together through our focus on reading, our collaborative LIT teams, and our development of capacity as schools and as a school division.  On behalf of these children and their families, thank you for your work!

Just before Christmas, the government released the report on school division governance that I talked about last month.  The report suggests four options for school division governance in the future, and this month a panel will be meeting with Boards of Education and sector partners to gather feedback on these four options.  This is a very important issue to our Board of Education, and their Advocacy and Networking committee will be meeting with the panel on January 24th.  A survey instrument has been developed by the Ministry of Education to gather feedback from individuals or groups who are not able to meet with the panel, and any submissions to this survey will be made public at the end of the consultation period.  This is a challenging time for staff, as we may have some personal opinions about school division governance.  If staff members want to make a submission using the Ministry survey, they have the right to do this as citizens of Saskatchewan.  As employees of a school division, it generally isn’t appropriate for us to comment on Facebook or Twitter or whatever social media platform you enjoy.  As we work together to continue the important work of learning and teaching in our classrooms and schools during the governance review process, please be cautious and professional on social media.

All things new, whether they are Transformational Change or the snow in Moose Jaw, bring some uncertainty, and I don’t have any more of a sense about politics than I have about the weather.  I do know that what I said last fall is correct – next year, and for years after that, we will still have schools and kids and staff members working together to do great things for students and families.  I know I am very fortunate because I generally see changes as opportunities and not as threats, but I am sensitive that this outlook isn’t as easy for others.  If you have questions or concerns that I can help with, please zip me an email or give me a call.  If you’re not comfortable talking with me, all of the Superintendent staff are here to support you, and your administrative staff at school are as well.

Sorry for the brevity of my note today – I hope everyone made it to here!

Have a great week,

Tony

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