Each year I look forward to welcoming our students, their families and our staff back to the beginning of another school year. Regretfully this year this welcome is delayed due to the labour impasse. I know that students are eager to return to school and all of the curricular and extra- curricular programs that are a part of school life. I know that teachers, educational assistants, and administrators are eager to return to the joy of working with their students. I hear it every day from all of the people who make up Burnaby public schools.
Once classes are organized, the real work of rebuilding relationships that focus on learning will begin. Compassion, understanding and patience will be required, with all partner groups as some people have experienced real hardship during the strike/lockout. I believe that focused dialogue will be an important part of the process of healing as we move forward.
It is my hope that part of the focus of these conversations will look ahead to the “preferred future” we hope for in our school communities. I believe that even though we are coming through a difficult time, we have an opportunity to focus our conversation on a future that will improve our schools for the benefit of our learners, our community and society.
As I have stated in previous blogs, the Ministry of Education and school districts across the province, including Burnaby, are involved in discussions about transforming the education system to better meet the needs of our students and prepare them to be successful in a rapidly changing future. This conversation will continue with all partners engaged and focused on improving the system to support the learner.
The future I envision has been articulated in my previous blogs: a future where the learner is at the centre of our collective efforts. I believe in a future where all partners have a voice in shaping our public education system. In Burnaby, we are grateful that we already have a strengthened public school system that is supported by strong community partners that include the City of Burnaby, the Burnaby business and trades community, the Burnaby Board of Trade and multiple community organizations. These partners in education continue to work with public schools to ensure that our students’ social, emotional, health and academic needs are met – and that the skills our students are being taught today will improve their chances of being successful citizens.
I believe in a public school system that prepares its learners to thrive amidst the challenges and rapid changes that the future holds, with the skills, confidence and attributes that allow them to shape our world into a better, more sustainable and just global community. Educators are key to this work – researching best practice, designing personalized curricula, facilitating quality learning episodes, supporting individual learning needs and evaluating learners’ progress.
I have faith in the professionalism of our outstanding educators, and know that their focus will be on delivering high quality educational programs that work towards meeting the educational needs of each learner. This has been the practice in Burnaby school district for decades. Beyond Burnaby, it is why BC continues to rank as one of the highest performing public education systems in Canada and the world.
I look forward to seeing you in school, engaged in learning – very soon.