June 2018: A Note From Tony

Hello Prairie South Friends,

On Tuesday evening the @PrairieSouth twitter feed was celebrating the fact that the next day was Wednesday, and that we were going to make it to the summer school break – now it’s Thursday, and we are even closer!  I know that June is a grind in schools, with students, parents and staff all ready for a break; thank you for making it through another year!

2017-2018 has been a good year for Prairie South.  At the Board level, we have settled on a strategic direction that will take us through to 2021, and we have worked through some very challenging budget times to end up at a place where resource allocation matches strategic goals.  At the staff level, we have made great connections between Trustees and school staffs in Coronach, Prince Arthur, Central Collegiate, and Craik, and we are in the process of finishing the staff engagement plan based on our January survey of staff satisfaction.  It is great to see that staff continue to be happy with their work and relationships at Prairie South, and I am looking forward to responding to some of the themes that emerged in the staff satisfaction survey to make things even better.

Once again, our main success this year is at the student level.  Last year, Prairie South’s on-time graduation rate was higher than it has ever been in the history of the school division.  This is a credit to staff who work with older students and an emerging understanding that we can’t treat kids like adults just because they are in high school.  When this understanding combines with the excellent work related to reading that has been done over the past several years by staff who work with younger students, we can look forward to levels of success that are higher yet.  In spite of all of the challenges we have faced as a sector, we are providing a higher quality of education with better student outcomes than ever before.  Everyone associated with the system in any way should be proud of this.

Next year is going to be even better!  As part of the 2018-2019 budget, the Board is sponsoring 9 innovative projects proposed by teachers and other staff members in several schools from throughout Prairie South.  I’m looking forward to learning from these staff members and their students in a range of areas from robotics to healthy eating.  The conversations between trustees and staff this year have led to some additional staff resources in targeted situations; I am very proud of the Board for the commitment they have shown to responding to needs identified in the system.  The Comprehensive Learning Framework, our model for improved student outcomes, will get a complete review next fall with the goal of determining whether it still meets the needs of Prairie South students and their families.  A catchment and building utilization review will help set direction related to infrastructure for the next decade, and the Board will continue to reach out to schools and communities to learn more about the people they serve in Prairie South.

For some of you, this will be the last note you get from me as you begin your retirement – the summer that never ends!  I’d like to say a special thank you for your service to the school division, and wish you the very best in your future.  I know that school communities have acknowledged their retirees in ways that are meaningful for them; last weekend we hosted a barbeque for Bernie Girardin, our Superintendent of Business, who in the last four years has become a friend and mentor for me.  I hope in his retirement he will have the chance to see Montreal win the Stanley Cup again, but I know he is probably out of luck.  Fair winds, Bernie.

I’m looking forward to some down time in July, and hope to learn how to manage a stand-up paddle board and bring my garden back to life after a spring of neglect.  Regardless of what you enjoy in the summer, I hope your family and friends enjoy some relaxation.  You deserve it.

See you soon,

Tony

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