Saturday, 8 September 2018

Fresh Starts and New Beginnings

Week one of the new school year is done! While opening is always a blur, three events in particular underscored for me, how every year is a fresh start marked with new beginnings. I had the privilege of assisting with the opening of our newest school Ma Murray Elementary, I traveled out to Upper Halfway to assist with their preparations for the coming year, and I got to meet and greet many of our newest teachers at their orientation event.

Opening a new school is always a thrill. There is so much to say about the beauty and innovation of Margaret Ma Murray's new design, and thanks to tireless attention of the school's admin and staff, combined with the relentless efforts of our Assistant Superintendent of Special Projects, the building was ready for opening day.  My very small role in helping out was to check in the school's grade 6 students as they arrived for their first day. I have tremendous respect for these students, arriving as they were, in a strange new building after having invested up to six years of loyalty to other schools,  teachers and cultures.  Their faces told a variety of stories,  from eager excitement through to doubt and trepidation. The adults at their building have worked hard to welcome them and ensure that their experience is positive and quickly establishes a new and vibrant school culture.

Later, I drove out to Upper Halfway Elementary Junior Secondary. Where Ma Murray is a gleaming new facility accommodating over 300 students, Upper Halfway is an older, smaller building  serving fewer than 50 students across a wide range of grades. While the building might not be new, Upper Halfway still serves as an important community hub. The team there were planning out their year with the same level of excitement and energy I had noted in town. The district is indeed fortunate to  have dedicated and caring folks so committed to ensuring that all students get the level of education they deserve. The Halfway team is a diverse group ,made up of local community members, returning staff and recruits from distance. Located more than a hundred kilometers from town, they are truly illustrative of the courageous innovative spirit our district team is known for.

On Thursday I met some our newest teachers. Our new teacher orientation is a one stop information session that allows all our newest members an opportunity to meet the board office staff. They meet the folks from payroll, benefits and human resources, as well as the district's leadership team, and reps from their local teacher's association . Following a session to fill out all the paperwork needed to ensure they are covered and compensated to all the right levels, our new folks could take a quick tour of town, ending at meet and greet, wine and cheese social at the Cultural Center in the heart of downtown. In a time when northern districts are working hard to attract new teachers, it was exciting and encouraging to see so many new people willing to take on opportunities within our community. The expressions on many of their faces were quite similar to the ones I'd seen at Ma Murray earlier in the week. Excitement and anxious energy really are everywhere first week back.

The beginning of September really does mark a fresh start and a new beginning  for our school year, and one week in, the excitement seems to be outweighing the anxiety. As the year unfolds I look forward to seeing where this new year takes us and sharing the stories of many more Education Matters!

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