I can’t believe it’s the last day of the year for our 10-month staff; I started writing this about a month ago, and it’s been hanging around in my email drafts ever since, so I thought I’d better get it sent today!
It’s been a good year to be a part of Prairie South. My highlights are always connected to kids like the little girl in Kincaid who wasn’t satisfied with my performance of the Mexican Hat Dance and made me do it over and over (and over) until it was done well enough for her standards, the high school girls at Belle Plaine Colony who sang a cappella in two-part harmony at the Christmas concert and my friends in the life skills program at Riverview Collegiate. My other highlights are connected to big people, like the grade 1 teacher at Empire School who taught one of the most challenging classes I have ever seen without breaking a sweat, the SCC and parents in Chaplin who had the courage to come together and talk about the realities of very small K-12 schools, the daily visits with Rob or Monica, the great facility operators who keep us organized at the office, and all of the people who made “big shooter” jokes after Jody Carrington visited us at Central Collegiate in May. I’m always glad that the things I remember most are about people – if I ever get to the point where the budget or buses or buildings are the highlight, it’ll be time to go!
We faced some challenges this year as well. It was great to get a new contract in place for our PSTA staff in the fall, and equally great to have an upcoming vote on a CUPE contract – once this is in place, it will be the first time in several years that all of our employee groups have a current contract and I’m excited about that. We have managed some difficult staff situations which I’m happy to have resolution for, and we have learned together about the importance of positive, professional work spaces for our staff. We have managed another tight budget without reducing staff, and we have made some real headway towards forming a collaborative partnership with our friends at Holy Trinity Catholic School Division. We have done the work to ensure that our transition to a new student information system in the fall is as smooth as it can possibly be. While challenges are seldom as much fun as highlights, they are a rewarding part of my work and I’m grateful to all of you for working through these things together.
While I’ve gotten to know many of you over the past 5 years, the folks who I know the best are the people I work with every day. They are hard working, selfless and committed to students, staff and the school division. As we work together we don’t always get everything right, but I see them doing their absolute best to take care of others every day. Steve, Barry, Darran, Darren, Lori, Ryan, Derrick, Ron and Diana – thank you.
It’s also been a pleasure for me to have the chance to work with our Board of Education again this year. Whenever you work with any group there will be days where there is some tension, and we aren’t immune to this at the Board table. Having said this, the more I interact with trustees, the more I admire their willingness to sacrifice their own jobs and families to support and serve students and families in Prairie South. If you see Lew, Mary, Jan, Brian or Tim in Moose Jaw, or Shawn, Giselle, Al, Robert or Darcy in a small town, be sure to introduce yourselves and say “hi” and “thanks”.
I will be away for a week in July visiting Kelowna with friends, and for a week in August visiting my daughter in Toronto. Other than that, I’ll be close to home with some days at work and some days at the cabin. Whether you are on holidays or just beginning your busy season, I hope you have a great summer. See you in the fall!