Superintendent Report - September, 2014
Category : Superintendent Report
Published by Marjorie Graham [Marjorie Graham] on 10/01/2014

SUPERINTENDENT’S REPORT
SEPTEMBER 2014

Let me first take this opportunity to thank the Board for this appointment as your superintendent. I appreciate your support and look forward to working with you in this new capacity during the difficult times ahead. We have challenges with declining enrollment, under capacity in our facilities, and increasing reductions in transitional funding. We are fortunate to have a Board supportive of students, staff and communities and committed to working collaboratively to face these challenges.

The first day of school in 2014 for 915 primaries in our system was a momentous occasion – new clothes, brightly colored school bags and a whole range of emotions from eager anticipation to a little trepidation. Most of the tears I witnessed, though, were those of parents and grandparents, there to mark a big milestone in the lives of the graduating class of 2027. A question we need to consider is what will the world look like in 2027, and how do we prepare all students in our system for the 21st century.

One of our Board’s goals in our 2014/15 business plan focuses our efforts on preparing students for the 21st century by providing highly skilled staff and integrated curriculum. This goal, shared by most school boards across the country, has sparked much dialogue and debate. You will find many interesting articles on the C21 website – Canadians for 21st Century Learning and Innovation.

The generally accepted 21st Century Competencies are commonly referred to as the 7 C’s.

  1. Creativity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship
  2. Critical Thinking
  3. Collaboration
  4. Communication
  5. Character
  6. Culture and Ethical Leadership
  7. Computer and Digital Technologies

These competencies are not necessarily new but, in combination, are the qualities essential for the future success for our students.

So what are some of the initiatives for 14/15 that address these competencies?

  • Twenty-one early literacy teachers to support student growth in reading and writing at the elementary level;
  • A new student intervention program for grades 4-6 to help students to gain both knowledge and confidence in mathematics;
  • A second student intervention program at the junior high level that will focus on grade 8 and 9 students to again promote knowledge and confidence in mathematics at this level;
  • A literacy consultant and coach at the secondary level that will support teachers and students in cross-curricular literacy skill development;
  • A particular technology focus on grade eight, as well as increased support for teachers, to engage students through the use of technology.

On Monday, Sept. 22, senior staff and board members had an opportunity to attend the exciting official opening of the new elementary school in Membertou. The school is heated and cooled with geothermal energy and solar panels – a truly green building. A state of the art facility, this is truly a building supportive of 21st century learning.

In preparation for the school year, I had an opportunity to visit our major construction sites with our Director of Operations.

  • Coxheath Elementary, as well as Sydney River Elementary, has had renovations to washrooms, windows and extensive painting to refresh the school.
  • Dr. T.L. Sullivan has a new tech ed room as well as extensive renovations to the Learning Centre.
  • Glace Bay High has a new skilled trades facility, one of four opened across the province this year. Skilled Trades 10 will be offered in the first semester followed by Construction Trades 11 in the second semester.
  • J.B. Croak has had renovations to two classrooms to accommodate another site for Schools Plus, an exciting program initiative for students and families in the Glace Bay area.
  • Memorial High School has had roof replacements, a mechanical electrical upgrade and new windows and entrance systems.

Let me take this opportunity to thank all staff in Programs, Operations, Human Resources and Finance for their diligence and hard work during the summer to ensure our schools were bright and welcoming for the first day of school.

A special thank you to Barb MacDonald for hosting us here this evening. A family in this school community has recently suffered a tragic loss and our thoughts and prayers are with them at this very difficult time.

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. Again, I ask that principals ensure that these important communications are kept up-to-date.