Success is a Personal Thing

Success is a Personal Thing

Principal, A.E. Bowers Elementary School – As a person who tries to live Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits, I ‘sharpen the saw’ by working out at a local gym three times a week.

I have to share that this is really a new thing in my life. I am married to a man who has competed in ‘Strong Man’ and who has done the heavy lifting in our home for many years. I haven’t had to carry my own luggage or shift of piece of furniture for the duration of our marriage – and that’s getting to be quite a few years.

So, this is where my journey in strength training begins…

I walked into the Koko Fit Club last January where I participated in a strength test and began to work with the trainers. I have accepted who I am – and, if ego had come into it, would have been reluctant to continue. I had the astounding ability to ‘plank’ for approximately three seconds before falling on my face… with no grace at all.

Slowly but surely, though, I began to see evidence of growing strength in daily activities. I began to look for opportunities to test myself, including handling my own luggage right through the airport and into the trunk of the car – all 49.99 carefully packed pounds of it!

Today, on this snowy and oh, so cold winter day one year and a bit after beginning my journey of self-improvement, I helped a fellow motorist by pushing her vehicle up a hill as she gained traction.

I know I have catapulted myself from ‘wet noodle’ status to physically capable of activities of daily living. I am not even close to ‘pulling a truck’ or ‘lifting the stones’, but it makes me thoughtful about how we work with our kids each day…

… Are we recognizing the readiness that each child brings to the learning each day?
… Are we building slowly and methodically from where they are at on a continuum?
… Are we celebrating beginnings? Are we celebrating growth?

Whether the student is metaphorically competing in Strongman or lugging a suitcase around the airport… success is a personal thing.

Digging into Our Results

Digging into Our Results

Superintendent of Schools – This week we will present our proposed Annual Education Results Report (AERR) to the Board. I blogged about this earlier this fall, but now we’ve laid out the various survey results, achievement measures, transition data, drop-out rates, and information from our audited financial statement and capital plans, into an incredibly ‘readable’ format to share our story about the 2016/17 school year.

It is important to remember that the jurisdictional results are the compilation of all the individual school results. Over the fall, schools have been looking at their specific school results as a staff and with parent council. Principals build a School Annual Results Report as a summary document, which highlights their accomplishments related to our three divisional goals (Learners are Successful; Learners are Engaged; and Learners are Supported), priority areas for future school education plans, and their specific school results on both the provincial measures and RVS’ satisfaction survey.

In RVS we have many reasons to be proud. Specific accomplishments we are highlighting this year in our AERR include:

  • Increased satisfaction about the efforts we are making to build foundational literacy and numeracy skills.
  • Maintenance of an incredibly low drop-out rate and very strong high school completion rates.
  • Provision of safe and caring schools where people believe they are receiving a high quality of education.
  • Our stakeholders noting that we are focused on continuous improvement.
  • Our First Nations, Métis and Inuit students performing significantly higher than their provincial First Nations, Métis and Inuit peers on many academic measures.
  • Putting supports in place to increase students’ regular attendance.
  • Utilization of inquiry and project-based learning along with balanced assessment practices.
  • Learners taking ownership for their learning.

While we have much to be proud of, we must address those items where our results are not where we want them to be. All of these challenges will take time and effort to address and we do not believe that we can resolve them in one year. Specific areas for improvement identified in our AERR include:

  • Math performance from K through 12.
  • Providing students voice and choice in their learning, which will improve student engagement.
  • Eliminating the performance gap between RVS students and our RVS students who self-identify as First Nations, Métis and Inuit.
  • Building connections, confidence and resiliency for our students.
  • Enhancing parental involvement in their child’s education.
  • Supporting students with special needs achieve their learning goals.
  • Improving a student-centred focus across our jurisdiction.

One other item in our AERR shares how we spent our money for the 2016/17 school year. Based on a cost breakdown per student, RVS spent: $8,828.44 on instruction, $1,559.87 on Plant Operations and Maintenance, $726.54 on Transportation, and $327.32 on Governance and System Administration.

We are committed to continuous improvement and supporting students to be successful. Thank you to our staff for all of your work.


Taking the Time to Look Back

Taking the Time to Look Back

Superintendent of Schools – Each year, school divisions in Alberta must generate an Annual Education Results Report (AERR). This report serves as an assurance/accountability tool for school divisions by providing its communities with access to information regarding its students’ achievements, as well as its operational successes and challenges. The report comes out in early December, but we started putting the pieces together this past week. A small team met with various stakeholders to discuss and highlight accomplishments around our goals and outcomes from our Four Year Plan. For each specific outcome, we try to describe (in 250 words or less) what happened over the past year.

Sounds easy? Nope! I find we are so focused on continuous improvement it is hard for us to stop and remember past accomplishments. Conversations stray into what we are currently doing or challenges we are attempting to address now. We really have to rein ourselves in to focus on what happened last year. We take for granted the great work done previously as we know we have much more to do and rarely take time to celebrate our accomplishments. Another challenge is quantifying and documenting the work. Much of our accomplishments are best described in the rich stories from teachers and/or learners. Capturing those rich experiences in a format that fits in a written report like the AERR is tough. In my experience working in some other sectors, they dedicate people to tracking and recording the accomplishments. But K-12 is so focused on providing services, we do not have anyone focused on tracking the actions. As we encourage departments to document their journey using rich media resources like videos, tangible learning artifacts and social media posts, it does help us recall the impact we are having.

We have provincial academic performance measures like Provincial Achievement Tests (PATs) and Diploma Exams (Dips) that we use to measure progress as well. We also have provincial satisfaction survey data, along with a local RVS survey specifically tailored to our Four Year Plan. Those quantitative data sources are easier to include in AERRs, but even they require interpretation and a back-story to truly understand the data. People who are not from the education sector often feel frustrated when looking at our results because of the variables that cannot be isolated nor ignored. You cannot compare public education to a factory model where productivity gains are demonstrated by the number of widgets outputted by adjusting the speed of lathe or implementing a new conveyor belt technology.

I am describing this reporting challenge from a divisional perspective, but the same occurs for our schools. They are now developing their School Annual Results Report (SARR) and face the same challenge about looking at data, and documenting successes and challenges in relation to their own School Education Plan. I know they face similar challenges because we are so busy “doing” that we do not capture all of the successes and stories.

Stay tuned until early December when we release our Annual Education Results Report. This year we will not be producing a digital copy, as its due date falls in line with moving to a new public website platform. However, If you want to see what an AERR looks like, click here to see past reports.


Welcome Back!

Welcome Back!

Superintendent of Schools – Welcome back for the 2017-2018 school year. I am honoured to be part of Rocky View Schools (RVS) and the team that serves the youth in our communities. I hope everyone had a great summer and enjoyed the amazing weather we had throughout the region.

Over this school year, we will remain focused on ensuring that students experience success, engagement, and support – the three pillars of our Four-Year Plan we remain committed to. We are actively working to help students develop critical literacy and numeracy skills, while building a broad skillset of important competencies that will serve them throughout their lifetime. We achieve this through providing students with rich, hands-on, real-world learning environments both in and outside the classroom, keeping the spark of curiosity and learning alive. We also continue to hold a high value on inclusion, diversity, compassion and fairness and attempt to address the unique needs of every learner through tailored supports specific to the needs of the individual child. Our students deserve no less!

At Rocky View Schools our greatest strength is our people. It is our entire dedicated team that makes a difference in the lives of our students. We are so proud of our staff and the countless things they do for our students and our school communities. A special thank you to many of our staff that worked throughout the summer to get ready for the start of the school year.

We cannot do this alone. We have great community partners and volunteers that amplify our efforts. I want to thank all of those who give their time and resources to help our students. Other critical partners are our parents. Your support and involvement ensure your children, our students, continue to receive rich learning experiences in supportive learning environments.

Together we are stronger and together we can do the very best for our students.

I look forward to a great year ahead.


Proud to be a Mustang!

Proud to be a Mustang!

RVS Student, George McDougall High School – Seven years ago, George McDougall organized their first ever Ride of the Mustang after one of our very own mustangs was diagnosed with cancer. Since then, this annual 48-hour fundraiser has raised over $765,000 for the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation, which has gained us popularity throughout the community and granted our school the Top Fundraising School award from Kids Helping Kids every year. There are no words to describe just how special this fundraiser is. Although it takes over the City of Airdrie every year for only 48 hours, it will continue to leave a mark on the community forever.

After my first Ride of the Mustang, I knew I wanted to be involved. I had never in my life been in a room filled with so much energy, pride, and community. Over the 48 hours, there were fun games during all hours of the night that included everyone, a school-wide head shave, and memories that will last a lifetime. (Also, I will never un-see some of my teachers on stage doing a midnight karaoke session).

Since then it had been my goal to be a part of the ride and to make it bigger and better every year. As of 2017, for my senior year, I was the Chairman of the Operations committee and because of this opportunity I have had amazing experiences that have not only impacted me, but also the community.

A few of the committee members and I were given the chance to take a tour of the Alberta Children’s Hospital in December. We were given a detailed tour to see where exactly the money we raised was being spent. It was unbelievably heart warming. Seeing the hospital first hand opened our eyes and I remember leaving that day being completely overwhelmed with a sense of pride. There is no better feeling than to physically see how much of a difference you make in someone else’s life. Although the students of George McDougall may not know who we are helping personally, we believe that there is never a reason to turn down the opportunity to help someone in need. This is our school’s way of showing that children and families are not alone in the fight and we hope to ride forward for however long it may take.

This event proves how much of a difference can be made when a group of people come together with one common goal in mind. I will forever be inspired by our bikeathon and hope that it will encourage others to work together to make a difference in whatever it is they believe in.

As time passes and classes graduate, there is not a doubt in my mind that future students will hold true to the Ride of the Mustang legacy for years to come. I am so proud to be a Mustang!

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