They say that leadership starts at the top – that the success of any organization is contingent upon the skill set, dedication and commitment to excellence by those entrusted to lead. School boards are no different, and high functioning school boards do not happen by accident. To create the circumstances for success as a school board, a complex skill set is required, and a commitment to enhance those skills is a given.
My experiences in serving as Trustee for Wards 13 and 14 for the Calgary Catholic School District for the last ten years have taught me a lot. First, it is all about relationships – with our communities, with our staff, with our district leadership, with Alberta’s other 60 publicly funded school boards, with other provincial education stakeholders, and with our municipal and provincial political partners.
School board trustees exist to serve our communities by ensuring that we are providing the very best in educational opportunity for our students. This cannot occur with any degree of success in a vacuum. Ensuring that what we create as an educational environment captures the vision of educational excellence desired by our community, as well as meeting the mandate of Alberta Education demands effective, respectful dialogue. This has to occur with intent and integrity. Engaging in respectful conversation about the aspirations of our community related to education, challenging ourselves, and setting the bar higher in an effort to ensure that every student excels is what creates success.
In a Catholic school system, a strong relationship with the Calgary diocese is integral to our identity and success. A strong, seamless working relationship with our parishes is critical to who we are as a community of faith.
Learning from the experiences – the successes and challenges – of other school boards in Alberta creates a rich learning opportunity. Within each of the 61 publicly funded public, separate and francophone boards, there are stories of incredible innovation, of creativity, that have resulted in amazing opportunities for students. It is imperative that we learn from one another – that we take these experiences and look for applicability to our own district; and conversely, that we share our successes with other districts.
Alberta has a strong track record of commitment to education – this is why Alberta leads not only in many aspects nationally, but internationally as well. These is in no small part because of the respectful, collaborative relationships that exist at the provincial level. Provincial educational stakeholders such as the Alberta Teachers’ Association, the College of Alberta School Superintendents, the Association of School Business Officials of Alberta, Alberta School Councils Association, Alberta Catholic School Trustees’ Association, Public School Boards Association of Alberta, Federation des consiels scolaires francophones de l’Alberta, and the Alberta School Boards Association all work on behalf of the betterment of publicly funded education through their respective memberships. Together, the result is the creation of an outstanding system that serves Alberta students well.
Working effectively with our provincial political partners is critical for any school board. An effective relationship with the Minister of Education and those within his department is central to student success. Frank. Open dialogue about opportunities, challenges and preparing our students to be prepared to lead and succeed demands a respectful, effective and transparent relationship with all political representatives – we all serve the same communities.
I have come to recognize that the ability of any organization to excel is contingent upon the strength of those who work on its behalf. Those best efforts can only be realized through the development and enhancement of effective relationships. I commit to ensuring that this is the reality for Calgary Catholic.