October 2017: A Note From Tony

Hello Everyone,

Happy Almost Halloween!  When I left home this morning there was snow on the ground, and at the office the boiler isn’t working, so it is definitely feeling like the season change is close!  I think we’ve had a great start to the year in Prairie South.  Welcome back barbeques at schools, Education Week, volleyball games and special events are all times in September and October that I have seen kids and families thriving because of the dedication of our staff and the commitment of school and community partners.

I’m looking forward to working with the Board of Education in a year that won’t have as much turmoil as last year did.  While there are still some questions yet to be answered related to the alignment of governance between Boards and the provincial government, our Board has turned back to the work they looked forward to when they became Trustees.  In September, Trustees toured Peacock Collegiate to visit one of our great Grad Coach programs and to learn about some of the elements of the HVAC system we are replacing there to bring an old building into the current century.  In October, Trustees met with the staff in Coronach to learn about teaching and learning in a rural setting and the celebrations and challenges that are specific to that school; Trustees are planning to visit three other schools this year for the same purpose.  At their September meeting, the Board learned about last year’s grade 3 reading proficiency and graduation rates, and they talked about student attendance and the effects of non-attendance on learning.  I appreciate the support the Board provides for teaching and learning in Prairie South.

I want to make a plug for our great staff, SCC, and students at Chaplin School.  We had a flood caused by a faulty pump the weekend before school began, and the crawl space under the school where the electrical system for the school is was flooded.  As a result, we had to shut the power off before the first day of school, and we didn’t have it back on line until the end of September.  A portable generator ran the photocopier and the coffee pot, as well as one microwave oven, but there were no lights for nearly a month.  I visited the school 3 or 4 times during the month, and was amazed at the smiles on the faces of kids, staff, and community members.  The leadership of the staff and the SCC in Chaplin is a testament to the fact that relationships drive the system – if we’ve got them, we can do pretty much anything!  Everyone in the school got a headlamp to take home, so if you see someone who looks like they just emerged from a coal mine, they’re likely from Chaplin.

2017-2018 is a year where we are having to find ways to do things to serve kids and families with less resources available.  This is a challenge across the system, and I know that everyone is feeling the strain of this.  I hope that at the end of the year, we are able to look back and see that we found ways to get the work done that had to be done, and that the great culture that we share in Prairie South is intact.  Scarcity always looks more significant where it affects you the most – whether you work in a big school or a small one, in a rural community or in Moose Jaw, whether you’re an EA or an accountant or a teacher, it can feel as though you are bearing the brunt of fewer dollars to serve more kids.  Thank you to the folks who have spoken to me about how reduced resources are affecting their work; please know that the Board and I are working hard to be strong advocates for Prairie South and the education sector in general so that the public and the government understand that we can’t serve kids if we don’t have the resources to do the work.  In the meantime, we will all need to do our best with what we have; I know that our collective best will continue to be good for our students and their families.

All three of our children are back at the University of Saskatchewan this fall, so my life really does revolve around education both at home and at work.  It’s a good deal, and I’m grateful to be here with all of you.

Have a safe Halloween,

Tony

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