When shorter days combine with cooler nights and the air carries the distinct smell of fall, we know that a new school year is upon us. For students, educators and parents, this annual transition typically brings a few butterflies and a couple of nights of fitful sleep. We wonder what new schools, classes, students and teachers may have to offer. It is also a very exciting time as a fresh start always brings the promise of a better year ahead.
Despite coming off a very unsettled year in education in British Columbia that has undoubtedly impacted the faith of some, public schools in our province are excellent. Since my career began almost thirty years ago, I can state with confidence that the young people I have the honour of working with are more academically engaged, thoughtful and socially responsible than any generation that has preceded them. Teachers and support staff are caring, dedicated and reflective professionals who are sincerely interested in helping students learn and grow. Our school has a palpable sense of belonging and a deeply rooted ethos of care and respect amongst all members of our community. It is a vibrant, exciting place to learn and to work.
Schools and educators should always be concerned with improving to best prepare students for an ever-changing world. As we grapple with delivering a more flexible curriculum; articulating the core competencies, skills and knowledge students will need; and better utilizing technology to support, enhance and personalize learning, it is important we continue to build strong relationships and welcoming communities. The demands for change are at an all-time high; however, as we strive to move from “good to great” in B.C. public education, we need to remember that our schools are very good and to understand and build on the things we do well.
As we head back, I encourage all of us who are fortunate enough to work in or on behalf of schools to reach out and connect with one another in positive, inclusive and supportive ways. Our influence is significant and we are most effective when we work together openly and respectfully. Let us continue to welcome all students into our classrooms and our schools with a smile and an open heart. Listen to them, get to know them and let them know that they are welcome, safe and valued. Creating caring and respectful relationships with young people remains the single most important thing that we do.
Have a great year.