As many of you know January is one of my favorite times of year in schools and throughout our District. It is now that we really see the routines and structures of the Fall settle in, and learners engage in a more focused manner. In our Secondary schools, we often begin to see the completion of one semester, and the commencement of the next. Although the days are dark, we can see February and March not that far away on the horizon – along with the promise of Spring. And, we increase our focus on forward thinking and planning for the next year.
We are in interesting times. The sand frequently shifts beneath our feet, and our landscape changes. Our horizons become more clear in one moment, and blurred and cloudy the next. During an election year it sometimes feels like we are as a leaf hanging on tightly to the branch, fluttering madly in the wind as each interest tries to complete its mandate and set a platform for the next election. With votes as currency in that domain, the economy, the environment, and the public sector – including Public Education – experience a groundswell of attention as the “commodity.” Opinions are bandied about regarding how successful our public sector has or has not been, and a surge of criticism pushes back in an attempt to shift the horizon of the Province. The anomaly in the narrative, in my mind, are the agreed upon statements of what we as a public value.
These public debates are important – but I am saddened when I see well-intended, thoughtful, smart people drowning in the murky swamp of negativity rather than healthy, helpful dialogue and debate. Competing imperatives and values are the norm in any organization in the public domain. However, the narrative often pushes aside the celebrations of success, innovation and exceptional work that occurs. While our conditions are imperfect, our students are engaged in exceptional learning experiences – because we have exceptional people who work and volunteer in our District and who are providing important services throughout our communities in support of children and youth. I truly believe we all come to work each day with a desire to do our very best – no matter what our role is in this important work. Because of this, and because of supportive parents and community, our students thrive. For conditions to improve – it is my sincere belief that activism should be viewed as a strong voice that brings about change – by focusing on the change that will foster the conditions of positive improvement rather than focusing on the conditions that some believe impede improvement.
I for one am looking forward to 2017. I view the year ahead with optimism and a sense of adventure. I hope that you do too, and that we work together as a team to encounter, experience, enable and energize.