Another School Year Almost in the Books: A Message of Thanks to RVS Staff

Another School Year Almost in the Books: A Message of Thanks to RVS Staff

Superintendent of Schools – Wow, where did June go? June is a busy month for everyone and we have made it to the last few days of the 2017/18 school year. I appreciate the Herculean efforts made by our RVS family. We opened two and a half new schools this past fall. Our students and communities benefited from countless volunteer hours given by our staff for performances, field trips, sporting events, and so many other events. People worked on numerous committees giving their time and knowledge to help others. We engaged in meaningful professional learning in a variety of different forms. We continued to work hard to ensure that learners are successful, engaged and supported.

No matter what your title is, where you work, or how long you have been with RVS… you are making a difference. Unfortunately, I do not get to say ‘thank you’ enough, but I want you to know that I appreciate you and your efforts.

To those completing your last few days with RVS, thank you for your contributions! Whether you are retiring, moving to another school division or waiting for the next position, thanks! It is the people in RVS that make us great. I wish you the very best in your next challenge or in getting the next contract.

With almost 2,500 of us on staff, life brings many challenges over the year. Thoughts are with any team member who had a tough year for whatever reason. I continue to be impressed when I see our RVS family rally around a fellow teammate who may be struggling. I hope everyone’s 2018/19 school year is great.

Some teams are getting ready for the summer break, while others are ramping up for their busiest season of the year. Whether you are off for summer vacation soon or ramping up, I wish you a great, safe and joyous summer. Hopefully the weather will cooperate, so you can enjoy our wonderful surroundings. Enjoy time with friends and family, finish that series that you only got halfway through over the winter, float down a river, and make time to do what you enjoy.

Thank you to each and every one of you for your contributions to our communities, students, families and organization. You are making a difference in the lives of others and we are all better for it. Take care!



Puzzle or Chess?

Puzzle or Chess?

Superintendent of Schools – June is an incredibly busy time in Human Resource departments in school divisions across Canada. In my past life I used to work in an HR department and was directly involved in staffing for all positions in a school jurisdiction. Now, I am involved to a much lesser extent with a focus on staffing for principals, assistant principals and senior leadership roles. No matter how much or little staffing I do, I enjoy the task.

I often describe the process of staffing to be like a giant jigsaw puzzle. The key is looking at the picture you are trying to build and then finding the right person to excel, while addressing that school’s/department’s specific need. The jigsaw analogy worked because each person’s skills, abilities and experiences are somewhat unique. No matter the person or role, we all add to what that school/department looks like. We are not all interchangeable and fit into any need or role. Each of our amazing RVS staff members bring unique skills, talents and experiences to their school/department.

Recently, I realized that maybe my analogy could use some adjustments. The puzzle analogy still resonates but may be too simplistic. Sometimes staffing is like a game of chess. You need to look multiple moves ahead. Earlier moves impact your ability to make future moves. There needs to be a strategy in the order you approach things. In the puzzle, that piece always fits beside its neighbours no matter what order you connect the pieces. In staffing you have an immediate need (e.g. a Grade 3 teacher for your school), but based on which great teacher you place in that role, it impacts the needs, culture and dynamics of a school. That Grade 3 teacher also has a passion for French and can help teach that in the school. Now the next move for the school is changed.

No matter which analogy works for you, the key is finding, supporting, nurturing, empowering and recognizing great staff to help your team. I can tell you that RVS is exceptional at doing that. A special shout out to all those people working hard these days trying to find the right person for the right move to the right position on the big board we call Rocky View.


Message to the 2018 Graduates

Message to the 2018 Graduates

Superintendent of Schools – June means graduation season for school jurisdictions. Over the past week I attended three separate graduation cap and gown ceremonies with one more to attend late in June. Each year I write a base speech and then customize it based on the school or theme of the graduation. Yes, I actually do the writing and try to have variations from year to year.

To be honest, I know that the graduates are not overly excited to hear most of the speeches at the ceremonies. I assume they wish we would hurry up and finish. While the majority of speeches are focused on them, the real audience is probably the parents. Here is my message to the graduates (okay, the parents) for 2018:

Good afternoon everyone. Graduates, today is an exciting day as we celebrate your completion of high school. For most of you, public schooling began back in the fall of 2005 with you rocking your Blue’s Clues t-shirt and SpongeBob lunch bag. You are the first graduating class of school X where most of you are born in this millennium. Look at you now; you’ve come a long way! Along the journey you made new friends, had many teachers, went on memorable field trips, were involved in clubs / teams / productions and even managed to meet the graduation requirements. Congratulations, you have made it through this stage.

You are ready to take on the “real” world. It is time to call upon the skills you have been building over these past 13 years with the assistance of your family, teachers and friends. These skills include: problem solving, overcoming challenges, communicating, handling adversity, thinking critically, collaborating with others, and utilizing the various literacies you have developed. These are the skills you will need to leverage in the next stage of your life. These are the competencies that we have been working hard to get you ready for, no matter what your next choice is – whether that be the world of work, post-secondary education, travelling the world or even living in your parents’ basement.

Remember that you are not alone. You have family, friends and teachers rooting for you and ready to provide assistance. Sorry parents, but the balance of power is shifting as the grads are making more of the important decisions and taking more responsibility for those decisions. Grads, you will make mistakes, all of us do, but it will be how you recover from those mistakes which is most important. I encourage you to keep your options open, believe it or not, you may need to change your mind and consider another option. Mistakes and changing your mind are part of the “real” world.

To all of the RVS staff who helped you get here, thank you! To the families here today, congrats – you were a big part of getting them to this point. To the grads, I encourage you to take some time this weekend to thank those who helped get you to this point. Say thanks to your parents, siblings, grandparents, extended family, friends, teachers, bus drivers, secretaries, administrators and everyone who has helped along the way.

In closing, we are very excited about what you will do, where your journey will take you and the contributions you will make. Take care of each other and welcome to the “real” world.


Supporting Student Leadership

Supporting Student Leadership

Superintendent of Schools – Throughout our schools, there is an emphasis on providing meaningful student leadership opportunities for our students. I see that manifested in many different ways – from students of all ages MC’ing events, Grade 4 students touring trustees around back in the spring, the recent RVS middle school leadership conference, to this week’s Alberta Student Leadership Conference (ASLC2018). Providing students a meaningful voice in their school and opportunities to lead is something we should be proud of.

Last Sunday marked the kicked off ASLC2018 hosted by Bert Church High School, along with the assistance of students and admin from George McDougall High School, W.H. Croxford High School, W.G. Murdoch School and Beiseker Community School. Over 900 students from across Alberta are in attendance for the three days of workshops, activities and learning. The theme of the conference is Agents of Change and based on what I saw, we are in good hands moving forward.

The student delegates and their critically important faculty advisors arrived to a warm greeting from the many volunteers (both staff and community members). Students were broken up into superhero-based spirit groups led by our own high school leadership students. I had the chance to eat supper and play a few games with the Stan Lee spirit group led by two Bert Church Spirit Leaders, along with about 15 students from different high schools across Alberta.

Given the theme of Agents of Change, I took the opportunity to weave the theme into my greetings that I shared with the group:

On behalf of staff of Rocky View Schools, it is my pleasure to welcome you as Agents of Change. I’m not sure if the all-black outfit and dark sunglasses were in your welcome kit, but being an agent of change is an important opportunity. You have chosen a significant mission to be part of the team that makes positive change.

Your mission, should you wish to accept it, includes being an active leader in your school and through your efforts, you can help make change. Not change for the sake of change, but change to help make a positive difference. What that change needs to look like – that is specific to your situation. Whether that change is local or global – again, your call. I can tell you that without you advocating for, leading and demonstrating the change, it is not likely to make a difference.

I hope that when you leave this intensive agent training academy, you walk away with some new strategies to utilize in the field.

Good luck and be safe out there. Over and out.

The highlight of the opening ceremonies was an hour-long conversation by Canadian YouTuber, activist, spokesperson, and motivational speaker Molly Burke. Molly shared her story of losing her vision as a youngster and the path she has taken to overcome adversity and embrace diversity. Her blend of pop culture and deeply personal message of hope was very well received by all in attendance.

Thank you to all of our RVS family who provide student leadership opportunities. To the organizers, staff and volunteers involved in hosting ALSC2018 – a big thank you!


Girls in STEAM Day

Girls in STEAM Day

Technology Learning Specialist – Rocky View Schools’ fourth Girls in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) Day on March 5 was a resounding success! Over 55 girls met with 14 professionals representing many different STEAM fields – university students, aerospace engineers, chiropractors, physiotherapists, accountants, archaeologists, optometrists, a professor in GIS and Geomatics, a director of digital technologies, entrepreneurs in fashion and technology, and a pilot. What was really important during the day was the opportunity for these students to learn from women working in STEAM fields, to hear their stories about the many pathways their lives have taken and the opportunities they found. They learned that not everything takes a direct path; it often it takes time to see where life will lead. You just need the courage to take a leap!

Sarah Braul, a Beiseker student who attend the event said, “This event was created to promote females in the science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics fields. In attendance were middle and high school girls from all over Rocky View, as well as professionals in the STEAM sectors. In the morning we listened to guest speakers on topics such as technology, aerospace engineering, as well as wearable fashion and then participated in a speed dating activity. During the speed dating we were given a chance to speak one on one with professionals about their job, schooling etc. To end the day, there were STEAM-related activities,  which gave us the chance to explore the topics discussed throughout the day. My favourite part was the speed dating because we were able to ask any questions we had and get personal advice from the guests. This helped me to consider several different career options that I would be interested in within the STEAM fields.”

“As a teacher attending the event, I found it be to be very engaging and provided students with a great opportunity to connect more personally with professionals,” said Tatum Nixon from Beiseker Community School. “Students expressed that they found value in being able to ask questions within the small group speed dating. The variety of professionals in the room also piqued the interest of students towards career opportunities that they had not considered before. One example of this was combining engineering and design into what is now known worldwide as Make Fashion. Opportunities such as this are appreciated and valued by both teachers and students alike!”

Talia, an up and coming videographer in Grade 5, who also attended the previous three Girls in STEAM sessions, was our videographer for the day. Here is her video below. Thanks Talia!


Also, check out some tweets about the event:

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