Superintendent's Report - November 27, 2006
Category : Superintendent Report
Published by Karen Delaney [Karen Delaney] on 11/29/2006
Superintendent's Report - November 27, 2006

I would like to ensure you that the safety and security of our students and staff is utmost in our thoughts, particularly in light of a recent alert by the Department of Education in respect to school safety and policy procedure methods outlined for staff and students.

The Department of Education has further committed itself by appointing a renowned police officer to lead the strategy to oversee security measures and regional systems across the province. Constable Mark Young, from the Halifax Regional Police, has been seconded by the Department of Education to assist all boards across the province in the development of their safe school policies. We will be conducting a comprehensive review of all existing measures including entry procedures at building sites and specific emergency/crisis plans. Don Matheson, Director of Operations for the Board, has taken on the responsibility of developing a policy on security in buildings and school sites. The policy is still in the input stage and all of the schools
= staff, school advisory councils, staff from other sites, regional government and the public at large will have an opportunity for input. While we cannot guarantee that all of these safety measures are infallible, we are committed to explaining and implementing more and more improved measures to continue to ensure the safety of our children and our staff.

I have had an opportunity to sit with the complete board and review our goals and objectives for the 2006 - 2007 school year. These goals consist of the aggregate goals of the: Business Plan & the Strategic Plan of the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board; the priority considerations (twenty-one in all) from the Nova Scotia School Boards Association; the mandates and priorities of the Department of Education; and the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board
=s goals generated from the Superintendent=s assessment for the year, 2005 - 2006. The assessment period for this year is scheduled for April 1st, 2007, which is the end of the current budget year.

The Department of Education, along with regional boards, is committed to reclaiming the academic day. If students are going to be successful and be able to meet world class standards, all students need to be guaranteed quality class time. Even within the 195 day school year, there are actions we can take to ensure that the instructional time is used in the most effective way. Some of the elements that must be considered in such an analysis will include the following:

1) Professional Development of teachers and staff;

2) The guaranteed five hour instructional time;

3) The budget obligation to ensure the strategy; and,

4) The input from staff, school advisory councils, home & school, public and students.

Student programs, athletics, clubs and other activities will be considered. The regional board will have an opportunity to consider some alternatives for the ensuing school year, 2007 - 2008.At one time, principals and teachers could satisfy the demands of accountability simply by working hard and following acceptable professional standards. By contrast, the current accountability movement emphasizes results. We have identified five essential elements in today=s accountability systems:

1) Rigorous curricular standards are established;

2) Student progress is tested at stages - 3, 6 & 9;

3) Professional development is aligned with standards and test results;

4) test results are publicly reported; and,

5) Results lead to rewards, sanctions and targeted assistance.

All of these elements lead to a co-ordinated effort to improve student learning. It is only proper and right that we should extend our gratitude to the Department of Education for taking the lead in this process and for the continued funding support that we have seen over the past three years.

Again, I lead into my monthly theme for parents and students with the expectation that it will help us to work together as a team to assist our children in their quest for learning.

Citizens and educators alike are continually questioning and discussing what is taught in schools. However, how teaching is accomplished is a much more difficult question to answer. That=s because there are as many ways to teach as there are teachers. Nonetheless, there are certain traits which good teachers share.

First is a firm knowledge of the subject or skill being taught. A second trait is closely allied to the first. Good teachers have high expectations for all their students. They expect students to learn, and they don=t give up on a child who has difficulty. Third, good teachers use varied methods and lessons to make it possible for each student to learn. Fourth, they provide clear examples and directions which allow students to practice or apply daily lessons. Fifth, good teachers reward both good work habits and progress so that students= listening, thinking and efforts are reinforced.

Regardless of the subject being taught, a good teacher begins with the knowledge and experience a child brings to the classroom. With this background, the teacher begins introducing the new material, relating it as closely as possible to the familiar and real world of the student. The teacher then gives the student opportunities to practice and apply the new concept or skill in as many ways as possible. Next, the teacher tests the student in some manner to see how successfully he or she has mastered the new skill or concept - and how successfully the teacher has taught it. Usually, some reteaching is necessary following the test. Therefore, Ateach, test and reteach@ is a good way to describe the procedure.

The real challenge for the teacher is in the reteaching process. He or she must have sufficient imagination, time, patience, caring, and enthusiasm to keep the student motivated.

It=s important to remember that, throughout this process, the teacher is working with many students during the course of a day. Nevertheless, teachers plan carefully to provide for students= individual differences. The challenge is to develop students= imaginations and interests while imparting necessary knowledge and skills.

It=s unrealistic to expect that every teacher will succeed with every child all of the time. Obviously, there are human and professional limitations. However, it=s reasonable to expect that all teachers will succeed with most of their students most of the time. This is why teachers spend so much time carefully selecting materials, planning and evaluating.

The modern teacher uses a variety of techniques, equipment and materials to make the learning process seem more exciting today than it was in years past. Nevertheless, the essential technique remains one of teaching, testing and reteaching - until some level of mastery has been attained.

As parents and citizens, we need to know what is taught in our schools - as well as how it is taught. Such an understanding enables us to help our children find success.

I would ask that the board members and public please take the time to read the attached Superintendent=s Memos section as well as the reports from site principals on the celebrations and awards of their students and staff.