MONDAY, MAY 25, 2009
There has been a great deal of media coverage recently on the H1N1 influenza. Although there have been sixty eight (68) confirmed cases in Nova Scotia at this time, all have recovered or are recovering. It is important that in the regional school area - communities, students and parents be proactive and to take extra precautions to avoid future outbreaks.
In cooperation with the regional health services, we have notified students and staff of additional hygiene steps that could help prevent the spread of germs. We have posted a list of good health habits in all of our schools and facilities.
We have asked that people who develop an illness with a fever and respiratory symptoms, such as: a cough & runny nose, and possible other symptoms such as: body aches, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea, should contact their health care provider. The health care provider will determine whether influenza testing is needed.
Education Minister, Judy Streatch, announced on May 20th chronic absenteeism and other issues affecting the learning environment in Nova Scotia schools will be a subject of a provincial review. The committee will have representatives from the following agencies: Department of Education; Nova Scotia Teachers’ Union; Association of Nova Scotia Educational Administrators; Nova Scotia School Boards Association; Federation of Home & School Association; Youth Advisory Council & the Council of Mi’kmaq Education.
The committee will proceed with an internal review and present its report to the Education Minister before the new school year. There will be an opportunity for public input during the process.
Our update on our Strategic Plan is progressing slowly. Phase one involved the information gathering and analysis of our institutional culture and values, the goals and expectations of our stakeholders, the external environment and those opportunities and threats it holds for the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board’s future, and the internal environment with a focus on the Cape Breton-Victoria School Board’s special strengths and weaknesses. We are moving towards the final phase and it is our hope that it will be completed by November 2009.
We have had a steady work pace in relation to our budget process. The initial mandated cuts to classrooms have been implemented. Our process will allow for changes in classroom numbers which will be addressed in mid September. We have entered into the second phase of staff reduction which will affect the services of student support and itinerant services to all students.
It was our careful intent to realize these cuts with the least amount of hardship on individual students’ lives. We have, at this point, not achieved the balanced budget that we are mandated to realize.
This month’s theme to parents and students is related to the learning environment and how one should apply themselves in respect to tangible and intangible rewards.
As much as we like to talk about the “good old days” and how effective the schools were then, the truth is that we demand more of our boys and girls in school today than at any other time in our educational history. That becomes evident when we examine closely what students are expected to learn during their elementary and secondary school years.
A great deal of attention is afforded to elementary and secondary students who participate in athletics, drama, music, and debate. These students are given medals, certificates, letters, banquets, and much attention by the media. But students who do not participate in these and similar activities often receive little recognition. At a time when academic achievement is being emphasized, many parents have trouble understanding why this condition exists. Yes, if a student is elected to the National Honor Society or is the recipient of some important scholarship, he or she may receive a certificate and some media attention. But few students are elected to the National Honor Society; and few students receive scholarships. So, most students are left out of the limelight. That reality puzzles many parents - but it shouldn’t.
Schools do not give many honors and awards for academic achievement – even for exceptional academic achievement – because the honors and the awards are already “built in”.
As someone once wrote, learning is its own reward, and this is indeed true. Learning does provide its own honor and reward. Once we learn something, no one can take it from us. We can benefit from our learning for the rest of our lives. That is not so with the certificates, medals, and letters we may have received. Memorabilia are soon put away, and the banquets that were given in our honor are soon forgotten. But we don’t put our learning away. We carry it with us at all times. That is a true honor and a real award.
There is, however, one thing we need to remember. The most significant adults in any child’s life are his or her parents. If we cherish learning for ourselves and our children, and if we praise our children for their learning successes, we bestow upon them the greatest honor and the finest award.
Mr. Chairman this concludes my report for this month. If there are any questions pertaining to this report, I would respectfully ask that they be directed to me through the Board Chair.
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