The last of the Superintendent’s Reports for 2004 – 2005 school year is a perfect occasion for me to extend a special thank you to everyone who has contributed to providing an exemplary learning environment for our many and diverse learners. Our staff has been instrumental in allowing for the myriad of opportunities for students to achieve so much success in so many areas of endeavour.
Supporting learning environments and the efforts of our students in Grades Primary – Twelve throughout 2004 – 2005 were: 1,250 teachers, 400 plus substitutes, 100 site administrators, 1,000 support staff & central office personnel and 400 casual workers for a total of 3,150 people in the service of 18,500 students of the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board.
Our parent and community volunteers number in the hundreds. The contribution of parent volunteers to student success and to the value of programs and services in our schools is enormous and invaluable. The hard work, commitment and selfless dedication of the many parents who support and serve on School Advisory Councils and Home & School Associations have directly influenced the desirable record of scholarships and extra-curricular participation of our students.
Our skilled and resourceful classroom teachers have consistently created exceptional and challenging learning environments in the nine hundred classrooms throughout the school region.
Supported by the efforts and imagination of all of our employees, the encouragement and support of parents and the advocacy of our elected school board, the school region will, I believe, continue in 2005 – 2006 to strive to meet expectations and confront opportunities and challenges with energy and enthusiasm. As we look forward into the new school year, 2005 – 2006, we all must make our unwavering commitment to direct our attention to the three elements that underpins the Department of Education and the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board’s focus – accountability, standards and quality. When I refer to all, I make special reference to school board members, staff, parents, students, the Department of Education, policy makers and community members who need to work together to ensure our children’s success in the ensuing years.
In respect to my theme section of the Superintendent’s Report, I have had many positive comments. It was interesting to note the reaction to the theme on Library Services and Library holdings . I would ask if there is a particular topic or concern that may be of interest to board members, staff or community, that a note or comment to me would be received with an attempt to fulfill that request.
Most people are aware that exceptional children present special learning problems that must be considered by both teachers and parents. Whether the exceptionality is a learning disability, a mental or physical handicap, a behavioral difficulty or giftedness, our schools have a responsibility to maintain programs uniquely structured for exceptional children. Although we should be careful to ensure that the school does not devote its economic and human resources to the exceptional child to the exclusion of other children, there are a number of concerns that both parents and staff should keep in mind.
Exceptional children live in a world that has yet made full allowance for those who are different. If we expect these children to live more productive adult lives, they should be treated like other children. When the exceptionality is not extreme, exceptional children are taught in regular classrooms. Special support is available to help regular classroom teachers to spend part of each day working with the exceptional children in integrated resource rooms.
Indeed, most exceptional children should spend a part of each school day in regular classroom situations and be given the opportunity to participate with all children. Even the most high needs students should have the opportunity to take part in physical education, music and art classes. It is also important that, exceptional children attend the same schools that their friends and neighbours attend.
All parents should understand the needs of their children, just as our teachers, staff and administrators are expected to. Teachers must have the knowledge of special teaching techniques that enable exceptional children to learn effectively. Likewise, both parents and the community must have an appreciation of the great effort and dedication required to educate exceptional children. It is not by magic that exceptional children learn. Their learning requires persistent effort and a great deal of time and attention.
Parents should not ignore their child’s exceptionality. There are too many instances in which a child has not received services for his or her exceptionality because the parent refused to acknowledge that it exists and therefore, the child is not allowed placement in a special program. When this happens, the outcome can be disastrous. As the child becomes older and his or her success in school does not meet the expectations of the parents, the parents are not only disappointed, but become bitter and critical as well. This is not good for the parents or the school, and it is certainly damaging to the child.
Through early identification of exceptionality and with the application of proper educational processes, parents and educators have the challenge and opportunity to help in the development of a unique and productive human being. After all, to develop every pupil to his or her greatest potential is what education is all about.
Madame Chair, I direct your attention to the valuable contributions that our Principals have selected for your perusal which are attached to my report.