September has been an exciting month in Parkland School Division. We had a wonderful start up with many special guests including the Minister of Education, Honourable Jeff Johnson, bringing greetings from the Government of Alberta to1100 PSD staff on our opening day. In the past month, you have also probably noticed that we have been focused on our sharing our new vision and ultimate goal with many stakeholders in our schools and communities. We are also talking a lot more about our vision in PSD where exploration, creativity, imagination, and aspiring to reach dreams, aligns with our ultimate goal of student success and well-being.
We see every day in each of our schools and alternate sites how teachers, support staff, and administrators are committed to providing a quality education where our children are engaged and successful. In many ways, we are seeing first-hand how our schools in PSD are bringing our new vision, mission and values to life. In my role as Superintendent, I’ve had the opportunity to connect with many educational leaders, elected officials, administrators from other school divisions, and stakeholders from across North America over the past month. A common theme emerged from these discussions – that PSD is seen as a leader, an innovator, and a school division where we provide many paths and opportunities for our students.
Seeing PSD through this lens has also made me think about our new motto or tagline as well – where the world opens up. This really is a great description of the opportunities provided to all of our students, but also the extent to which PSD’s stories of success and accomplishment are being shared throughout our communities, across the province, and, in fact, around the world. There are a few recent examples from PSD that I wanted to share to highlight just how the world is opening up in PSD.
Just this past week, Grade 4 students at Millgrove School opened their Millgrove Arcade. The students modelled their cardboard arcade after Caine’s Arcade, which was created by a nine year-old boy in Los Angeles, Caine Monroy. Caine’s touching story was profiled by a film-maker and became a social media video sensation earlier this year. Our very own Millgrove Arcade was showcased on Global Edmonton and in our local paper. Not only did Millgrove Arcade showcase how students are learning and modelling from others, but it also highlighted how students are being engaged and inspired by others around the world. All the proceeds collected through Millgrove Arcade are being donated to the Imagination Foundation, which was created to support youth entrepreneurs following Caine’s story going public.
Also last week, we saw a great feature in the Reporter/Examiner on the real world experiences offered at Memorial Composite High School. Whether it is woodworking, mechanics or metal fabrication being offered through the Registered Apprenticeship Program, or the unique opportunities available through the Modified Academic Program, the diversity of educational options are opening the world up for these students. All high school students across PSD have a wonderful opportunity to explore, imagine and aspire to reach their dreams.
We are also seeing how the world is opening up in PSD, through our ‘184 Days of Learning’ blog. On Day 8 of 184 Days, we saw an inspiring post from a Grade 4 student named Maddisyn. Maddisyn’s post was in response to a video talk from author Peter Reynolds (author of The Dot and Ish) whose comments around making your mark and making it matter really struck a chord with Maddisyn. In her blog, Maddisyn commented on just how she is making her mark with her classmates through her writing. In a great twist to this story, and very much in line with the world opening up in PSD, author Peter Reynolds posted a response to Maddisyn’s blog post on 184 Days. In his response, Reynolds stated that he enjoyed seeing Maddisyn’s art and her thoughts on The Dot. He also wanted her to keep the creativity flowing. Maddisyn’s story is an incredible example of how PSD is opening up to the world, as our stories are being shared, and commented on, around the world. Who knows what the next story might be?
While I have shared only a few recent examples of the world opening up in PSD, I know there are hundreds and thousands more stories around PSD that we have to share – in our schools, in our communities, and with broader audiences around the world. And, we want to share these stories. The common theme that enables our students to explore, imagine, create, and aspire to reach their dreams are the remarkable staff we see in each and every PSD school. It’s this commitment of time and dedication that is ensuring PSD is a place where the world opens up.
Superintendent of Schools