Confessions of a Hockey Dad

Confessions of a Hockey Dad

Superintendent of Schools – September marks the return of school and the return of hockey to many of our families. We have two boys who play hockey and September also brings the highly stressful time called tryouts. Over the past two weeks, we have been at the rink almost daily with at least one kid working hard trying to demonstrate their skills to make a high-level team for the upcoming hockey season.

This stress is felt as much by the players as it is by the parents. With “cuts” occurring this past weekend it was intense pressure and lots of anxiety at the rink. Every action, shift and/or attempt is scrutinized and causes heart palpitations. We talked with many hockey parents and it is not just us. Whether it is 7-8 year olds or 15-17 year olds, tension was in the stands, in the locker rooms, and in the lobby. Even at a major fundraising event in the community on Saturday evening, much of the parent talk was about the tryouts currently underway.

We tried to prepare our kids with a few conditioning camps prior to the tryouts and some sage advice – do your best, work hard, remember to have fun, no matter what the decision is – it will all work out, and don’t forget to laugh. We also prepared them for the final moment when they would be called into the coaching room and be told if they made the team or not. We felt that preparing them for either decision was important. Reminding them to look the coach in the eye and thank them for giving their time to help them be a better player is critical. Reaching out and shaking the coach’s hand, no matter what the decision, is also an important skill to learn. What we did not discuss is how to walk out of that room and share the news with the other kids waiting to find out and how to react when you enter the lobby with all the other parents present.

By Sunday night, one made the team he was trying for and one received the “sorry, but…” news. I felt immense pride in how both handled the news. Our player who made the team walked quietly into the lobby where other families were waiting, gave us a quick nod and carried on walking until he was out of the rink. When I asked him if he made then team, he said he did not want to say much with others in the lobby because not everyone made the team. He showed compassion for those who did not make the team. Our other child handled the tough news with grace. He held his head up high and told me that these tryouts would help him be better prepared for the next level’s tryouts. They both managed to navigate the experience with class, compassion for others, all while learning important life lessons.

It is funny what you can learn from your kids at the rink.

Greg

18 Random Observations About the First 2 Weeks of School

18 Random Observations About the First 2 Weeks of School

Superintendent of Schools – I try to be out at schools as much as possible. It can be a challenge with all the meetings I need to be part of, but it is important for me to connect with our students, staff and communities. Over the past week and a half, I’ve been at over 10 schools and these are just a few observations from those visits:

  • Kids are happy to be in school – serious;
  • Each of our schools are clean and well maintained due to the great work of our maintenance and custodial crews;
  • Our staff put tremendous efforts in building warm and welcoming learning environments;
  • Middle school students can really eat hotdogs;
  • Professional learning is critical;
  • The amount of paper that goes through a school office at this time of the year is daunting – we need to continue to find ways to automate processes and reduce the volume of paper going back and forth between school and home;
  • Building early connections between home and teacher/school is a great way to support the success of students;
  • Some school welcome back breakfasts can rival Stampede events;
  • We have over 35 new teachers who just graduated in 2017 that are keen to make a positive difference in our schools;
  • Principals and Assistant Principals are magicians in how they juggle so many competing demands on resources and their time;
  • Schools care about kids and do great things to support them to help achieve success;
  • Students consistently demonstrate that they value inclusion;
  • Opening a brand-new school is even more work than I thought it was and our staff who have been through it are owed a great amount of appreciation;
  • Teacher creativity is limitless;
  • Attendance in week one really matters – establish good routines to start the year off well;
  • School Councils provide meaningful ways to help shape your school – get involved;
  • RVS team members that work in support roles create the conditions that allow students to succeed; and
  • Sitting in day-long meetings is physically demanding.

I am so proud of our schools and our RVS team. I will continue to be out and about in our schools and communities so remember to stop me and say “hi”.

Greg

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.

Greg

Wrapping Up the 16/17 School Year

Wrapping Up the 16/17 School Year

Superintendent of Schools – The following is a message I shared with RVS staff celebrating their amazing work and the end of another school year.

This week marks the end of another school year. If you are like me, some days may have gone slowly but blink and we made it through another week. I still speak like July is some faraway place but I just recently clued in that July is next week. Terms, semesters and holidays broke the year into chunks and we now have another school year under our belt. With nearly 2,500 employees on the RVS team, it is challenging to make broad, sweeping statements about the year. For most, it was a successful year. Hopefully you found the hard work rewarding. Hopefully you saw your efforts make a difference for kids, families, schools and/or communities. For some it was a challenging year for a variety of reasons. Hopefully you are able to put those challenges in your rear-view mirror and move forward. No matter how you might describe the 16/17 school year, thank you for your commitment and service.

When we work together we are able to amplify the efforts of individuals and make a positive difference. We have team members who were new on the team (myself included) as well as others who are winding up their final year with RVS. Each person makes a different contribution but collectively we do amazing work. In visiting every site, I get to see your work in action. Some of that work is front and centre while many of us work in support roles. We all make a difference.

While some of us have a good portion of the summer off, others will have a very busy July and August. The work of RVS may shift a bit over the summer but things still need to get accomplished and that is where our staff shine. For me, there are less meetings and I take that opportunity to tackle some larger projects. For others, it is time to prepare for the annual audit, time to upgrade servers, time to do additional cleaning, time for summer school, time to do that smaller renovation, time for the flooring to be replaced, time to refine the work plan for next year, time to get all the equipment here for our new schools, and/or time to cut the grass again. Hopefully everyone will get some time over the summer to take a break, enjoy some decent weather and do what you choose with family and friends.

To those people retiring this summer, thank you for all your service to the students, families and communities of RVS. Your contribution has not gone unnoticed. Hopefully you can join us this fall at our annual celebration. To those who are leaving RVS for other opportunities or hoping to rejoin RVS later, thank you for your service and all the very best. For the majority, we will see you again in the fall and thank you for all that you do for the organization. Rocky View Schools is nothing without the people that make up this great team.

On a personal note, thank you everyone for being so warm and welcoming to the new guy this year. You reaffirmed to me just what a great place RVS is and that is due to the staff.

Take care, travel safely and have some fun. Time to focus on a different set of 3 R’s – relax, recharge, reconnect.

Greg

How Facilities Can Support Learning

How Facilities Can Support Learning

Superintendent of Schools – Late last week I swung out to Beiseker Community School for a visit and to view the new addition recently completed and opened. The addition is relatively small, but provides a common, large area connected to two existing classrooms. Sliding walls were added in between the existing classrooms and the new area. The addition is very bright and fresh and really changed the tone of that area. Students were milling about, working independently, while sitting in flexible pods in the larger common space. Other students were working on a high counter style work area with phones plugged into USB style wall outlets. A teacher was working in one corner and the students had access to him if needed. A wide variety of furniture was available in different heights and styles depending on student preference and comfort. Soft seating was intermixed with hard surfaces. Cubby chairs also were available in the larger space so that you could sink in and create a bit more isolated space if that works for you too. It was an example of how we are working hard to provide flexible learning environments to support learning.

The week before this visit, our Board spent time talking about two other school renovations, aimed at providing a more welcoming environment for the students, parents and community. It is amazing what changing an entrance or lunchroom can do to make a school more inviting, while providing a flexible, modern space. The physical change provides opportunities to revisit what goes on in that space, adjusts the flow, provides a space that facilitates collaboration, and builds pride in the school as it now includes features similar to what our brand-new schools contain.

The Board has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in the past year to support schools in updating furniture in primary classrooms. Libraries are being retrofitted to support the philosophy of Learning Commons. Schools are requesting and designing outdoor classroom spaces. Slides walling have been retrofitted into some older facilities. These are all examples of how we are looking at our spaces, furniture and equipment in an effort to best support learning.

In the end, it is not the walls or even modern furniture that makes the difference, but it is our RVS staff that leverage that space to make it great. RVS does an outstanding job maintaining all our facilities given the limited funds we have available. Our maintenance crew, building operators, and custodians are absolutely great. We are so lucky to have such great people supporting our physical plants. Even in our older spaces, small tweaks are constantly being made to provide the very best service we can.

Recently, I toured a former colleague I worked with from a BC school division around three of our sites. He was amazed by our facilities. He repeatedly commented on how well our facilities are designed to support learning. I must say I was pretty proud to be part of RVS after that tour!

Greg