I would like to welcome our newly elected Board Members who were sworn in November 5th: Stewart Matheson, Joyce Lind, Jack Toomey, John Berk, and Yvonne Kennedy join the eleven returning members for the next four years. I look forward to working with the new Board Members as well as our returning members. I believe it is a good time to renew Board goals and initiatives as we begin this four year journey together. I know we will work collaboratively and responsibility for all students of the Cape Breton Victoria Regional School Board. There were two orientation sessions held for members this month. One was done by staff and Alan Lowe from the DOE and the other was a provincial NSSBA workshop.
November 11th was Remembrance Day, and all schools participate in some way to honor those who sacrificed for our wonderful country and continue to sacrifice for us. Veterans and others were guests at many of our schools this month, and I salute all schools for paying tribute to those who gave of themselves for our freedom.
On Thursday, November 8th, Deputy Minister Carole Olsen organized a meeting of Superintendents, Directors of Programs and Student Services, as well as Senior Staff from the Department of Education. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss priorities and direction for Education in Nova Scotia over the next number of years. Ms. Olsen led the day herself and there was interesting and informative discussion. The plan was to get all Boards together with the Department of Education to work in a cooperative effort for the future of education in our province. The Deputy Minister said this was the first step and future meetings will happen to continue the process. It is not a one-off affair but requires further discussion and collaboration. I look forward to the next session in the New Year.
I also attended a meeting with the Deputy Minister of Justice, Judith Ferguson this month. The meeting was held to foster community mobilization and partnership. Others attending were:
Chief Peter MacIsaac – Cape Breton Regional Police Services
John Harker – President, Cape Breton University
Andre Gallant – CEO, YMCA Cape Breton
John MacEachern – Chair, Association for Safer Cape Breton Communities
Sgt. Tom Ripley – Executive Director, Association for Safer Cape Breton Communities
Lindsay Peach – Vice President, Cape Breton District Health Authority
Deputy Minister Ferguson was very supportive and will set up a follow up meeting with Deputies of Education, Health & Wellness and Community Services.
There was an ANSEA (Association of Nova Scotia Education Administrators) meeting on November 9th. This was a professional development session for Superintendents, Directors and others, including School Board members. Topics included “Managing the Risks of School Closures” led by Peter McLellan, Q.C., Partner, Stewart McKelvey. He led the Strait Board in defense of their recent legal challenge which is still before the courts. Another session was “Lessons Learned from School Board Claims” led by Scott Norton, Q.C., from the same firm. Both of these sessions were extremely informative and beneficial to all involved with education in Nova Scotia. The final session was on School Trips, and it too was very pertinent to all School Boards with so many of our schools involved in travel groups. I am a strong supporter of professional development of all staff within the Cape Breton Victoria Regional School Board, and this session was extremely worthwhile.
Further to professional development, a Board-wide staff inservice will be held November 30th on the topic “Expanding Cultural Competence: Responding to the Lives of our Students”. The workshops will be held at Sydney Academy (for elementary staff) and Sherwood Park Education Centre (for secondary staff). The keynote addresses will be led by Lindsey Willow and Enid Lee, both highly recommended and strong presenters. I would like to recognize Ms. Lynn Crawford, Coordinator, Race Relations, Cross Cultural Understanding and Human Rights, who took the lead in organizing this valuable day.
Mr. Chairman, I would like to direct your attention, and that of the board members and staff, to the comments from our school principals that are placed on individual school websites. These items represent the awards, achievements and successes of our students and staff within the boundaries of the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board. Again, I ask the principals to ensure that these important communications are kept up-to-date.
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