I would like to welcome students, parents/guardians, staff, volunteers, board members and all community supporters and partners to the 2013-14 school year. I look forward to another exciting and rewarding year for the Cape Breton Victoria Regional School Board. I extend a warm welcome to Mr. John Astephen, the newly appointed Regional Education Officer. Many of us have worked closely with John over the years, and his background in Programs and Student Services with the Cape Breton Victoria Regional School Board certainly provides a strong foundation for his new position and our new relationship with him. We look forward to this working relationship with John and wish him all the best as the Regional Education Officer for our Board and also the Strait Board.
As we near the end of September, our staff and Board have dealt with staffing issues, transportation issues and others that usually arise with the start of a school year. I thank staff and the Board for their support and dedication as we worked through some of these challenges.
There has been major work done on our capital projects throughout the summer, and I would like to thank our Operations’ staff for their commitment to these projects and for making sure all schools were ready for opening day.
Our “Looking Inward” document continues to be a focus for us as we start this school year. There are eleven focus group meetings and seven public meetings to be held up to November 20th. These are a follow up to the sessions held last spring and give School Advisory Council representatives as well as the general public the opportunity to make further recommendations in regard to this very important document. We hope to have a draft report ready for the Board by the end of December so decisions and planning for next year can be prepared within the appropriate timelines. The Department of Education will soon publish a draft document on School Review. Mr. Bob Fowler chaired this committee and held many stakeholder meetings over the past few months. We expect the report soon.
Another issue at the forefront this year is cyberbullying and the new legislation that has recently been passed. A document entitled “Bullying and Cyberbullying – What we Need to Know,” a reference for parents and guardians, was provided to every student in Nova Scotia. A conference on cyberbullying was held this summer and four regional meetings for all principals will be held between September 25th and October 2nd. Our principals along with those from the Strait Board and some CSAP principals met on September 26th in Port Hawkesbury at the Civic Centre. The title of the session was “Responding to Bullying and Cyberbullying.” The Deputy Minister of Education, along with Senior Staff from the Department of Education and members of the Cyber Scan Unit, were presenters. The role and responsibility of principals and the new legislation were discussed throughout the day. I will keep the Board updated on this topic as the year progresses. Stand Up Against Bullying Day was Thursday, September 12th, and all of our schools participated in one form or another. I thank all for a job well done.
Our Board is committed to supporting schools and staff as we begin another school year. The significance of the role of the teacher is fundamental in the education of our students. I recently read an interesting article, “There’s Always That One Teacher”, by Michael Sadowski, in the September edition of Educational Leadership. He states clearly that “one teacher can make a world of difference – but he or she shouldn’t be expected to do it alone.” Again, we endeavor to support teachers and schools within our jurisdiction as they work within this noble profession.
I had the opportunity along with Susan Kelley, Director of Programs and Student Services, to attend a Rededication Ceremony of the McLennan Centre at the Fortress Louisbourg on September 12th. The rededication was performed by His Honour, Brigadier-General, The Honourable J.J. Grant, Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia. The rededication pays tribute to the contributions of Katherine and J.S. McLennan to the Fortress Louisbourg National Historic Site. Also, the inaugural conferring of the Katherine McLennan Award was presented to John C. O’Donnell, longtime conductor of the Men of the Deeps. A wonderful concert by the Men of the Deeps followed in the chapel, and both the music and setting were inspiring. There are now a large number of resources available to our students at the McLennan Centre at the Fortress and online that will enhance the history and culture of our area. It was a great day.
Mr. Chairman, I would like to direct your attention, and that of the board members and staff, to read 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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