In the report of the Director of Regional Education Services dated September 24, 2007, Jim Burton reported to the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board that the Superintendent′s Performance Appraisal Committee completed the appraisal of Superintendent of Schools, Ed Davis. The subsequent report was filed with the Department of Education. It is the responsibility of the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board, as it is with all regional school boards, that this exercise be completed each year. The responsibility of the Superintendent is to respond to the report on his appraisal and to set the goals and objectives for the ensuing year, 2007-2008. My response has been sent to the Board′s Chair, Darlene Morrison, along with the appropriate considerations for the ensuing year.
In conjunction with the Business Plan′s Goals and Objectives, I have outlined the expected results for 2007-2008 - the overall analysis of performance of my staff and the follow up action plan for individual performance in terms of significant achievements, requirements for performance improvement, and list of goals set for 2007-2008. One of our most important goals this year will be the development of a new Strategic Plan which will be more relevant to the educational environment which exists today.
Since our last Strategic Plan exercise, we have ventured into new realms of curriculum, technology, inclusive education practices, Learning for Life I and Learning for Life II, professional learning communities, and school construction and renovations. We have taken steps to prepare for the 21st century. It is obvious that this ultimate vision is far-reaching, comprehensive and carries budget implications. I foresee that if we divide this into manageable steps with short term time frames, we will all be amazed by what will be accomplished for our students. We will learn from our mistakes, make the necessary adjustments and continue our quest to become the very best we can be.
October 2nd was the result of the culmination of a long wait for the community of Iona. We were happy to officially open our new school in Iona. The new Rankin School of the Narrows (P-12) is the state of the art school and was constructed with a view to obtain Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Certification (LEED). LEED Certification results in healthier and more energy efficient buildings. Throughout the design and construction, careful attention was paid to details such as: the materials used, water conservation, energy conservation and minimizing the disturbance to the site. The application is in progress and we look forward to the result. This is our twelfth new school since our amalgamation in 1996.
The Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board is happy with the new school construction over the years and looks forward, with positive anticipation, to our new schools construction on the Northside and Glace Bay.
In Victoria County communities, again I would direct your attention to two specific construction facilities and The new Bus Garage at Cabot and the new Sports Track & Field facilities. Again, it was a long time coming but the several partnerships among community institutions and the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board enabled the venture to come to reality.
Understandably, all of us – parents, school personnel and community – are concerned about the safety of our children. We have listed safety as our number one priority. We are always mindful about safety measures. All principals have been directed to review their safety measures and crisis plans and to discuss these with staffs. The Emergency Management Plan Guidelines have been presented to the Educational Consultative Forum in Halifax. We have confirmed our support for these guidelines and will immediately take action to have them implemented. Our lead person in this venture is Director, Ambrose White, who will work closely with the elected School Board, Central Office staff, school site administration and staff, community personnel, parents and students. We take the security of our children and staff seriously. We want our schools to be inviting and welcoming, but safety is the first priority.
Madame Chair, I again go back to my theme for parents and students. This month, I would like to talk about the idea that school is more than subject matter.From time to time, we all hear about the need to improve the schools, and most of what we hear has focused on subject matter. It is apparent that mastery of the subject matter is considered essential if young people are to grow up to lead happy and prosperous lives. A superior education in mathematics, science, language arts, reading, history, geography, art, music, physical education, and other subjects is thought to be essential for every child. Educators, political leaders, and parents alike are directing their efforts toward creating more rigorous courses, increasing graduation requirements, and requiring a longer school day or school year.
This emphasis on mastery of subject matter, however, may cause us to overlook those other school experiences that are as important for children as the formal subject matter curriculum. We ought to remind ourselves frequently what some of these other experiences are, or we may lose our perspective on education. School is a place where many, perhaps even most, of our children work out the problems of growing from childhood to adulthood. At school, children learn to relate to and cooperate with other children, to work with adults, to form friendships, and to resolve conflicts. They learn to work as members of groups and teams.
Many students gain experience in leadership roles by seeking election to class and club offices. As members of an organization, our students gain experience in self-governing activities and democratic behaviors. Students also learn how to conduct themselves in meetings.
There are many other learning experiences that children encounter at school which are not part of the formal curriculum. For instance, giving children the opportunity to provide input regarding school rules and regulations helps them understand how rules and regulations are applied to the student body for the good of all. Students also learn the discipline that is necessary to complete their assigned tasks and to report to their classes on time each day – and this discipline will help children when they enter the world of work.
Perhaps one of the most important experiences children have in school is sharing common academic learning with others of varying backgrounds. At school, the rich and the poor, the bright and the struggling share many experiences. That in itself is important in learning to live together in a democratic society. School is also a place where young people learn that everyone has an opportunity to go as far as his or her abilities and dedication will permit.
Yes, school is more than subject matter. It provides experiences that are nearly impossible to have anywhere else. And these experiences are necessary if young people are to meet their future challenges. We should not overlook this reality as we strive to improve our schools; for if we do, we may find that we have educated a generation of youths who have mastered the academic skills but have not developed the qualities that help them to live together in a democratic nation.
Madame Chair, I would ask you and your elected colleagues peruse the addendum to my report to see the many and varied reports from our school sites which celebrates the work and awards of students and staff.