As you are reading this message I am in the final stages of packing for my trip to Japan. Passport – check – cash converted into yen – check – gifts to share with hosts, information about our great School Division, and a special plan on my Blackberry to ensure communication from abroad – check, check, check! What? I need formal documentation of my blood type? Wow – it would be easier to stay on home turf. I enjoy what I do and look forward to the daily opportunities and challenges working with others to ensure the continued success and improvement of Parkland School Division. So why bother with the expedition to Japan?
First of all, it is by invitation from the Japan Foundation and connections through Alberta Education that I received the opportunity as one of 5 Canadian educators joining a delegation to visit Japan, to continue to develop relations with our Japanese counterparts and to deepen our understanding and commitment to second language education. It is truly an honor to represent our School Division and our province.
Beyond that, our world is shrinking…and I see such benefit in being abreast of the issues and advancements of education – not only in Alberta, but throughout Canada and beyond. Having recently participated in the OECD International Conference that was held in Banff, PSD Board Chair Richard Gilchrist and I, along with other Trustees and staff worked alongside colleagues from 18 countries as we grappled with exciting opportunities that exist for our students and in making learning meaningful and relevant in our new world.
You would be surprised at how frequently we experience events (small and large) that remind us of how the world is changing. Just last week we were contacted by a school in the Silicon Valley (California, USA). Via PSD blogs, websites, Twitter, etc., they have been following our advancements in assessment, embedding technology as tools for learning and in professional development, etc. and they are looking to us for support as they attempt to build teacher capacity in the use of technology. Imagine the call coming to us from the Silicon Valley – the US hub and think tank of all things technology!
We are serious when we talk about ensuring that our students are prepared for life after public education. That requires us to be on the leading edge – in the know and leading transformation in our schools. As Superintendent of our learning organization I am committed to taking the steps necessary to remain current in my understanding of the educational landscape and in having the tools necessary to continue to uphold the vision for our journey.
Will I become a fan of sushi? Highly unlikely. But I promise to represent all that is valuable and attractive about public education in Parkland School Division and in Alberta. I will ask lots of questions and do my best to gain an understanding of Japanese education, culture and relationships that will add value to what we are doing specifically with our students who are studying Japanese, those in other second languages and general principles related to education.
Have you checked out my recent blog “Hope”? As always, I look forward to hearing from you. You are still welcome to stop by my office, just call ahead and the door will always open. But now, like many of you, I have entered the world of social media, so you can even send me a tweet!