Choosing Trust: A New School Year Begins

choose trust cubeWords of welcome to all staff from the GVSD Board Chair officially launched the 2016-2017 school year. Speaking to all staff at the Sept. 6 orientation meeting at NPC, Laurie Dyck affirmed the value of looking back and celebrating our successes, and also continuing toward our goals in 2016-17.

Dyck highlighted the board's commitment to reaching the division's major literacy objectives, and also securing funding for a new K-8 school.

Also bringing greetings for a new year, Vern Reimer, GVSD Superintendent, introduced and welcomed the GVSD staff members that are new and/or in new roles. Reimer noted that the GVSD mission statement continues to serve us well as we collectively facilitate excellent education for children to become good neighbours, workers, and citizens.

In light of the strong residential growth seen in the Winkler West (Pine Ridge) and Winkler North West (Gemstone) developments, and the ongoing need for permanent additions and portables at JR Walkof, WES, and Parkland, Reimer outlined the division's commitment to securing a new 20 classroom K-8 school for 600 students in Winkler West (Pine Ridge).

Some other important GVSD construction projects were also identified during the morning meeting. A staff room renovation at JRW, a work room renovation at Parkland, and the hallway/classroom renovation at WES were highlighted during the presentation.

Information about the 2016-17 GVSD Strategic Plan was presented to all the staff. The K-4 literacy goal states that by June 2017, all grades K-4 students will increase reading levels, with 85% at or above grade level. Led by Valerie Harder, the new Middle Years Literacy Coordinator, a Gr. 5-8 Literacy initiative will develop clear criteria of student learning expectations by June 2017. By June 2017, the division will also develop a divisional grades 8-12 transition protocol for the sharing of student information, as well as a focused PD plan that provides educational staff with literacy strategies and resources. The division is also starting Phase 1 of a numeracy initiative. Alicia Ballantyne is the new Numeracy Coordinator, and by June 2017, GVSD will develop a continuum of K-2 math learning to ensure vertical alignment and consistent student learning expectations across GVSD. The division will also continue its support of Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) that are focused on student learning.

The main portion of the morning session featured a special celebration of the GVSD Literacy initiative. Led by Doreen Prazak, Assistant Superintendent, and Lesley Kasdorf, K-4 Literacy Coordinator, the staff were given a history of the literacy initiative and the impact it is having in our schools today. A culture of literacy is building throughout the division, marked by students passionate about reading, classrooms equipped with new books, and teachers and administrators working together to create literacy-infused learning environments. The presentation included video testimonials from students, teachers, and administrators highlighting the incredibly positive impact that the literacy initiative has been having.

The morning session concluded with the Superintendent presenting the theme "Choose Trust," as the organizational principle that will guide the staff as they work together to build a healthy staff culture and design learning for our children. Based on the leadership training work of Andy Stanley, GVSD has intentionally embarked on a journey to establish a culture of trust within the entire organization. When there is a gap between our expectations and our actual experiences, it's essential to fill the gap with trust rather than suspicion. For a closer look at GVSD's decision to focus on establishing a culture of trust, see also "Establishing Cultures of Trust," written by Ken Bergen, GVSD Supervisor of Operations, and Vern Reimer, GVSD Superintendent, for the Manitoba Association of School Business Officials (MASBO).