Tools to Achieve Academic Success
Thu Jan 25 00:00:00 NST 2018

As we have entered the second half of the school year, it is important to evaluate our goals and ensure we have made a commitment and a plan to achieve them. In many ways 2018 offers a fresh start, yet builds upon the lessons learned in the first months of the school year.

By now, we all know the areas we need to put in some extra effort and what is required to be successful during the coming months. It is certainly far easier to achieve our goals if we have established a plan we know will lead to academic success. And while such a plan is important to establish and follow, it must also be flexible so that adjustments can be made for unforeseen circumstances, and more importantly, new and exciting opportunities. So, take some time to develop your approach to achieving the success you desire and deserve.

As our high school students prepare for mid-term exams and strive for academic success, I would like to remind everyone that the District has provided a tremendous amount of online resources that I am sure will prove useful for studying. With a particular focus on mathematics, the online resources should be visited by every student preparing for mid-terms. As well, junior high students can include these resources in their academic success plan and avail of the lessons available specifically for them. The District ‘online prep’ resources can be found here: https://www.nlesd.ca/families/onlinetools.jsp

Students can also take advantage of the many course review materials and online tutoring available through the Centre for Distance Learning and Innovation. A link is available on the above page or can be accessed directly here: https://www.cdli.ca/.  This division of the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District provides an amazing amount of prep and tutoring materials that can be used by any student of the District, not just those who use CDLI as part of their typical academic course work. The Centre for Distance Learning and Innovation has assembled an amazing repertoire of material to benefit all students and we should encourage our students, friends, and family members to take advantage of this unique resource.

Over the course of the coming months I intend to focus some of my future blog posts on the important topics of literacy and numeracy. Our District has been undertaking great initiatives in these areas and I feel, making important steps forward in the education of our students. I hope to connect with readers on the importance of these efforts and promote the support needed by our school communities to ensure the work at school continues at home, and then leads to student success.

Before I conclude, I would like to echo one important topic our District has been focusing on this academic year that should be included in every successful academic plan: attendance. Ensuring students are in class and engaged in their education is critical to success. If you regularly read the Director’s Blog or pay attention to communications from the District, you know the importance of attendance and engagement and how being in school is a precursor to success. Continuing the focus on attendance and engagement should be a priority for all school communities, including students, parents and guardians, administrators, teachers, and school councils. The fundamental question that we must all ask before engaging in activity that takes us away from instructional time is:

Can this activity or event be conducted at a time and/or in a manner that does not disrupt precious time from teaching and learning?

I extend my best wishes to everyone for a safe and successful 2018 and I look forward to the many accomplishments we will achieve together.

Sincerely,

Tony

PREVIOUS THREE ENTRIES
Thanks for 2017
Tue Dec 19 00:00:00 NST 2017

I will not replicate the Christmas messages sent by the Board and the District in this blog. I would simply like to use this space to thank our dedicated employees for the work you individually accomplish, day in and day out, sung and unsung, for the betterment of our students in 2017 and urge you to take full advantage of the Christmas break to relax and recharge.

The Christmas break is really the only time where just about everything in our busy personal and professional lives slows down or comes to complete halt. Yes, there are other natural breaks in the school year, but often these breaks are interrupted or overshadowed by some activity deemed too essential to completely set aside for a time. However, barring some emergency, the Christmas break affords us the best opportunity to slow down, reflect, and enjoy the company of our family and friends without some immediate deadline looming.

As I go about the District’s schools and offices, I continue to be impressed with the commitment, creativity, dedication, and expertise of our employees. A year can be compressed into a mind’s-eye-view like images in a slide show. A District year-in-review slide show could include: the teacher standing before their admiring students delighted to be finally retiring but satisfied with what they had achieved after a fulfilling career; the new primary teacher so delighted with the new flexible seating in their classroom; the administrator so proud to show off their in-house designed and equipped calming room; the program specialists who volunteers to run a summer institute for teachers and bakes the treats for all who attend; the student assistant using a family recipe to bake bread and applying molasses as it is handed out to the students; the custodian who took such pride in an elaborate setup of equipment in support of an official school opening; the maintenance manager who was eager to provide a tour of a school that facilities staff had just finished renovating; the smiling cleaner who I’d seen at several schools in as many days as staff hustled around to open our new schools in September; the computer support specialist who persevered in establishing a consistent wifi signal in a classroom; the bus driver who delivers that special morning greeting to the students as they hop aboard; the school secretary who produced another beautiful program of events for Remembrance Day; the payroll clerk who makes that one extra phone call as the day expires to make sure the substitute teacher gets paid on time; and, the finance clerk who diligently processed a pile of requests. These are but a few images, all of them samples of ordinary, yet wonderful snapshots in time that collectively illustrate the work ethic and contribution of our employees that goes into making and sustaining truly remarkable school communities.

To all our District employees, in schools and offices around the province, again I thank you. Enjoy and relax this holiday season. You have more than earned it.

To all our students, parents, staff, and trustees, I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas break spent enjoying the traditions of the holidays. I wish you all the best of the season and look forward to continuing our positive work in 2018.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Tony

The School Review Process
Thu Dec 07 00:00:00 NST 2017

The Board of Trustees for the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District recently tabled notices of motion that may result in school closures, as well as the consolidation of two schools. These notices of motion result from trustees reviewing information about the impacted school systems and reviewing initial feedback from the school communities. Important materials on the school review process, including school system information, dates of upcoming meetings, and a feedback form, can be found on our website: https://www.nlesd.ca/schools/schoolreview/

As a result of these notices of motion, a further review and feedback process is now underway and allows members of the school communities involved the opportunity to provide further feedback to the trustees about the future of their school. This includes both online feedback and the opportunity to present to trustees in person.

It is extremely important to say that no decisions have been made at this time with respect to the notices of motion and the future of the schools identified. To help inform the deliberations of trustees, members of the school communities involved are encouraged to provide their feedback online by the end of day January 22, 2018. By submitting your feedback online or by presenting to trustees in person, school community members can express their point of view and ensure trustees have all the information required to make a decision on February 3, 2018.

Factors such as enrolment, finances, human resources, infrastructure, programming, and student transportation are considered. It is the role of District staff to assemble and collate information with respect to such factors and it is my role as Director to oversee those staff efforts. It is the role of Trustees to consider these factors in deciding if the potential changes are in the best interests of the students involved and the delivery of education for the District at large. It is not an easy decision and one that cannot be taken lightly.

For those who are part of the school communities directly involved, I ask that you review the material available and provide your feedback online. Should you wish to make representation to trustees at the school community sessions scheduled for January 2018, registration is taking place until 2:00 p.m. December 20, 2017. Presenters are asked to contact Jackie Crane at 758-2381 or jackiecrane@nlesd.ca to register. Presentations are to be 10 minutes in length and an electronic copy is to be provided for the records of the Board. Specific dates and locations of the sessions can be found at the above noted website.

As an educator and resident of Newfoundland and Labrador, I recognize school review processes are difficult for communities. In most circumstances, the prospect of a school closure can be hard to contemplate and it can be difficult to find the appropriate way to respond. However, it is important that you do. I also recognize the role and responsibility of trustees to make decisions in the best interest of all students of the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District.

To inform that decision process, have your say through the online feedback form or present to the Board of Trustees in January.

Sincerely,

Tony

A Time of Remembrance and Action
Tue Nov 07 00:00:00 NST 2017

As we prepare to acknowledge Remembrance Day, our attention turns to those who have served our country and those who continue to serve in areas of conflict and turmoil. This is a special period in schools as ceremonies are held in gymnasiums and discussions take place in classrooms so that students and school communities remember the fallen, those who returned changed by the experience, and acknowledge those currently in service. It is a period where we reflect on our history, as well as our role in global affairs, and use the knowledge gained to encourage our students to help make our world a better place.

Like so many Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, my family has a strong connection to our armed services. With immediate family currently serving, and having worn a uniform myself, I understand the important role the women and men who serve our country have both home and abroad. Members of the Canadian Armed Forces serve in a variety of capacities throughout the world helping to preserve or restore peace, build capacity for security and stability, and support organizations who work to improve the lives of others.

I encourage everyone to participate in school Remembrance Day ceremonies, a community ceremony at your local cenotaph, or undertake your own personal act of remembrance and support for veterans and those still serving. Acts of remembrance can be simple. By treating others with respect and kindness and by doing your part to prevent bullying and harassment you are being a peacekeeper or a peacemaker in your own school and community. If we all make that small contribution to ensuring justice, equality, and fairness are values present in our daily lives, we are committing the most important act of remembrance. As we have seen with recent tragedies and acts of aggression committed against innocent people, there remains a lot of work to be done to ensure all global citizens are safe and free of oppression, tyranny, and injustice.

I am always proud of the social justice initiatives occurring in our schools. It is clear to me that social change, inspired by our teachers, is led by our young people; students with an open perspective, a broader understanding of acceptance, and a desire to do what is right. These are the people who can and do make a difference in our world. I strongly encourage our students, the future leaders of our Canadian society, to continue to uphold these values, be the leaders of change, and strive for social justice and equality both here and abroad.

As we approach Remembrance Day, let us remember the broader issues, the realities of armed conflict, and what is required to attain peace and equality in our world. Let us also remember our classmates, colleagues, and neighbours who are currently impacted because a family member is serving away from home. Most importantly, let us all consider our role in ensuring a safe, peaceful, and justice society in our schools, in our communities, and in our world.

Lest we forget.

Tony

Tony Stack
CEO/Director of Education (Interim)

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St. John's, NL · Canada · A1B 1R6
Tel: (709) 758-2372 · Fax: (709) 758-2706

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