During the week of November 8th, students and our staffs in our schools took time to hold ceremonies in honor of Remembrance Day. As in past years, Board members and Central Office staff were honored to attend the ceremonies.Although the many ceremonies varied in their presentation, they are always the same in a couple of aspects.First, anyone in attendance is struck by the sincerity and ability of our students to express their thank-youís to the men and women who served and continue to serve our country in harmís way.Secondly, it is always impressive to see the excellent turnout of veterans and the deep appreciation they feel for the ceremonies of remembrance.
On November 15, the Board hosted a reception for our staff who retired at the end of last school term.In her address to the retirees, the Board Chair thanked each and everyone for the wonderful contribution they made over the years to our students and system.If one assumes that the average retiree worked for thirty years, then the total years of service by our retirees would represent about 3600 total years.The most memorable quote heard during the reception was ďmy favorite part of retirement has been getting up at recess.Ē
Over the last number of years, our Board has taken steps to protect the instructional time in our classrooms.The time requirements for the delivery of our curriculum are such now that we must ensure that we cut down or eliminate any unnecessary distractions.† One example of a step taken by our Board a few years ago was to eliminate all staggered starts.You will recall that there was a time in most of our secondary schools when each grade would start the year on successive days.† This is no more.Now all students and grades start on the same day.† Another area of change was in the area of professional development days.There was a time not long ago when one or more classes in a school would be dismissed for a half or full day for staff professional development while the rest of the school or Board were in session.Again, this is no more. Now staff and parents know exactly at the beginning of each year when students will not be present because of staff professional development.The present arrangement gives us additional days when we donít have to run our buses.† Our principals are very aware of the importance of protecting instructional time and continue to take steps to eliminate unnecessary distractions.
At present time, in our Board and across the province, there are ten days of the 195 day school year when students are not present. These include four days for staff professional development, four days for grading/orientation, one day (two half-days) for parent-teacher meetings and one day for a province-wide conference day.
I would now like to focus on the staff professional development days. Over the last nine or ten years, we have seen a tremendous change in the public school program in Nova Scotia. Almost all subject areas have been reviewed and changed, especially in the areas of Language Arts, Mathematics, and Science.During this time, we have seen the introduction of the Special Education Policy and with it inclusion. Educators across the country have been revising curriculum to reflect new insights about the way students learn. The Atlantic provinces, through APEF, asked all stakeholders what knowledge, skills, and attitudes will help high school graduates achieve fulfilment and success in their adult life. What is most important for them to learn?The answers to those questions resulted in the provinces of Atlantic Canada deciding on six essential graduation learnings, or egles.
These include: aesthetic expression, citizenship, communication, personal development, problem solving, and technological competence. Essential graduation learnings describe expectations, not in terms of individual school subjects, but in terms of knowledge, skills and attitudes developed throughout the curriculum.
In each subject area, the curriculum is built around clear statements of what students are expected to know, be able to do, and value as a result of their learning experiences.These statements are called learning outcomes.† Curriculum outcomes give teachers, parents and students a picture of what is expected at each stage of school, from entry to grade 12. Outcomes place the focus directly on the student - not on a textbook or content.
With all these changes has come the need for timely, focused professional development for staff.Today, with the help of the Department of Education, we have put in place lead teams of staff who, once they are trained, then deliver focused professional development to the rest of our staff.I have included for your reference a list of some of our lead teams who work with our staff. All of our professional development is focused on Board and Provincial program priorities.† Its goal is to enhance the learning which occurs in our classrooms.Evaluations done after these inservices indicate that our staff are very appreciative of the opportunity to advance their knowledge and skills. As an example of the type of topics covered, I have attached an outline of the various inservices conducted during our recent Professional Development day held on November 5, 2004.
Finally, Madame Chair, I direct the attention of the Board to the reports provided by our principals with respect to the important activities and achievements of our students throughout Cape Breton-Victoria.