Words that start with “C”*…

Recent events have inspired me to take yet another close look at priorities.  Are we trying to be everything to everyone and, as a result, struggling to find balance?  I started with a short list of “C” words but it just keeps mushrooming.   (*Please note… I am keenly aware that “learning” begins with the letter “L” and that “Child” is the ultimate “C” word.)

1.     Compliance – This word is first on the list because of my knee-jerk reaction to a very painful enrolment audit last month.  Once I stopped pouting I realized that some compliance might actually be good practice (although I still believe the ministry has to update the audit teams regarding things like Bill 33, Personalized Learning and innovation… but that is another story).

2.     Capacity – Building capacity has always been especially important in our district because our staff is so transient, but when someone as talented as Lesley Lahaye announces her retirement as Assistant Superintendent (AND you get burned in an audit) it becomes a priority in a hurry.

3.     Communication – I’ve always wondered how a guy who talks as much as me has a communication problem but the truth is I need to keep looking for strategies to make sure everyone is informed and listened to.

4.     Community – We have formed some great partnerships with our municipalities and community organizations.  I have spoken publicly about the need for us all to get out of our “silos” and really show people what it looks like when “a community raises a child”.  Now I have to reciprocate.  When I am invited to community meetings and planning sessions it seems hypocritical if I don’t go.

5.     Celebration – Our district is doing some great things for kids.  We have some amazing staff.  It is easy to let time go by and possibly have them feel as though we take them for granted.  We need to celebrate more.

… and the list goes on

6.     Computers – Technology is ever changing.  Even though it is tough to plan for what’s coming next, we still need to spend more time talking with people about a district direction. (I find it ironic that this conversation could be so much easier to have if more people would embrace technology.)

7.     Corporate – We are in the midst of starting up some innovative programs (such as the “Energetic Learning Campus” at the Pomeroy Sports Center).  We have business people who are interested in helping out.  I need to make more time for them.

8.     Candor – In my opinion, it has never been more important than it is now for people to take part in candid dialogue about education.  (By the way, I don’t think you need to be rude to be candid… the world doesn’t need any more Simon Cowells or Hell’s Kitchen chefs).

9.     CHANGE – Need I say more?  And not just any change… incremental change in exponential times just isn’t cutting it.

… and on

10. Catchment – Our growing district needs to change traditional catchment areas.  Should we do it in traditional ways?  I don’t think so.

11. Calendar – We’re still mainly 9:00 to 3:00 and September to June.  Why?

12. Cash – Budget is an issue.  Can’t deny it.  This brings me back to “how do we do everything for everyone?”  Bottom line… I don’t think it will be with the system that we have.  If “learning” really is the most important thing, then we need to get our “C” words in order (and our “A” words, and our “B” words…).

Do you have any words to share?

About Larry Espe

Superintendent of Schools
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