After forty-seven (47) years of being in public education, I believe it is time to retire. I am excited and ready to retire. I loved every minute here in Cape Breton-Victoria and I have many great memories during my ten (10) years as Superintendent for the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board. I have enjoyed the varied boards, staff, students, parents/guardians and community people that I have had connection with. I will miss you!
I came to this office of Superintendent wanting to make a difference and not wanting to compromise my personality. I came to the conclusion that I did make a difference and my personality is intact.
Nova Scotia today is facing a set of crises that also represents a true opportunity to innovate in a way that relies on the communities of Nova Scotia to be part of that solution in ways that are both new and harkens back to our earlier traditions. The banner has been raised to manage our expenditures realizing that the resources are scarce, our board is ready, our staffs are ready, and our parents/guardians are fully cognizant of the task.
This became an incredible moment and we must seize it. My only comment
is that all regional boards may not see this as an opportunity to share limited resources with less fortunate regions of Nova Scotia. I make specific reference to the ‘Hogg Report’ and its deep concerns which recognized the disproportionate decline factor in some boards that have to be protected in order that all students may have access to a quality education in the province.
I came to the Superintendent’s position in the year 2000, at a time of challenge and difficulty with the assistance of the Directors, support staff and our communities - we immediately put in place a transition plan to manage our expenditures and strengthen the financial accountability of the Board in hard times. Over the years, we were successful in achieving a more stable, more predictable and more cost efficient Board. This resulted in a number of years of modest surpluses and strengthened our commitment to serve our children. The storms of economic discontent are again at our doorstep. While I must point out again that the successes over the past number of years were a team effort, achieved through the leadership of a strong and effective school board; a sophisticated team at Central Office; the support of a loyal hard-working staff as well as grateful and supportive parents and guardians, the recipient of this force enabled students to succeed and enjoy the harvest of these efforts.
I thank the Board for their continued support over the years. I thank the team efforts of Central Office Staff – a team more passionate, hard working, dedicated, and talented cannot be found anywhere.
I do not have immediate plans for the future except spending time with my wife, Beryl, and our daughters: Donna (Doug), Allison (Salem) & Barbara (Cecil), along with our grandchildren: Matthew, Alex and Ibrahim until we will consider what comes next.
I leave this Board with a final word of advice - that it addresses issues squarely, it addresses issues aggressively, it addresses issues thoughtfully and expeditiously, to ensure all that you do will support students, your staff and the parents/guardians of the communities of Cape Breton & Victoria County.
One might capsulize this advice by focusing on the needs of the heart. That is something which was really important to me during my time as Superintendent, and I would be really disappointed if this region forgot about this commitment to the social and emotional support for kids. I really believe that unless you take care of their social and emotional needs, you are not going to educate them effectively. Worry about the people, build relationships, continue to focus on the children and their needs, the parents/guardians and their needs and the staff and their needs. The Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board exists in a good community.
We have a mission statement for the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board but it is important to focus on some of its elements in order to confirm we are on task and committed to the following in order to achieve our mission in every school:
1. Excellence in Teaching;
2. A safe and respectable climate in very school;
3. Adequate resources and equitable facilities;
4. Collaborative goal setting planning and problem solving; and,
5. Strong community and family partnerships.
Again, I leave one of my themes that are directed to parents, guardians and students…..
As parents, the most important responsibility we have is helping our children grow into responsible adults who will be able to lead productive and fulfilling lives. Some children manage to grow into adulthood without causing their parents serious concern. But an easy transition into adulthood is usually an exception. Most of us experience many anxious days as our children grow and mature.
Sometimes the problems our children have seem overwhelming to us. After all, experience is usually the only training we receive for parenthood. It often seems that we never experience problems like the ones our children are having – or we forget the ones we had. Thus, it’s natural for us to feel alone and helpless when confronted with their problems.
As parents, we need to realize, however, that we are not alone in our efforts to help our children grow. There are others who can help us with the problems our children may have. In fact, considerable help is available from the school. Teachers and administrators can help. Indeed, helping is the essence of the educator’s career.
Teachers and administrators in your schools have more experience and training in working with young people than nearly anyone else in the community. As parents, as well as educators, many have gained valuable insight into certain problems because their own children have experienced them. This insight can be shared with other parents. Although every child is different, and past experience is not always an infallible guide about how to deal with an existing situation, the experience educators have in nurturing and working with children should not be ignored.
Schools also have counselors and other specialists who can help us gain insight into our children’s problems. If school specialists cannot help directly with counseling and testing, they can usually make referrals to other organizations in the community or state where additional assistance can be obtained.
Other agencies and institutions in the community should not be overlooked. The church or synagogue, mental health centers, and other community agencies should all be considered when children need help. We can receive assistance from more places than we realize. The list is long and nearly every school official can help in suggesting possibilities.
Some children manage to go through their ‘growing up’ years without experiencing many difficulties. They have no serious learning problems and few discipline problems. But when problems and difficulties do arise, we, as parents, should seek the help that we need. We should seek that help with trust and confidence that others will readily share their knowledge and experience with us. We are not alone in helping our children grow into responsible adults – as long as we are willing to ask for help when it is needed.
Tonight I direct your attention to the Board Chair’s comments from principals who alert us to the varied successes and celebrations related to our students. Please take some time to read and provide feedback to the schools that have made the effort to contribute these articles. The articles can be viewed on our website: (www.cbv.ns.ca)
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