Volume 1 – Number 1 – September 2013
The most popular question I get asked as we start the year is “What’s new in West Van this year?”
Well, there is a lot of new.
This publication for example. We are working to engage our students, staff, parents and community in a variety of ways to share information and engage with you. I find myself helping parents with questions on Twitter, answering enrollment questions via text message and engaging in new ideas through my blog. There are new ways of connecting and we are continually looking to keep everyone informed and engaged.
Other “new” things this fall that I am particularly proud of are a series of new learning opportunities for students – a basketball academy with students from all three secondary schools, a business-leadership program partnering senior students with key business leaders in the community, an Honours Choir that further enhances our district’s arts opportunities, and a fully subscribed carpentry apprenticeship program at West Vancouver Secondary. These are four great examples of how we are trying to better engage students in areas of passion.
While the new is exciting – when I get asked about the fall, I also love talking about what is not new.
We have stability with enrollment. Families from West Vancouver, around the Lower Mainland, and around the world continue to enroll their students in our schools. There are many options for families; choosing us speaks volumes about the outstanding public schools in West Vancouver, and I appreciate the support. Our enrollment is stable with what we saw last year – slightly over 7,100 students.
The work I am most proud of, and the stories I like tell the most, are those around learning in the classrooms. To say it is “new” would not be fair. We have been transforming our classrooms for a number of years – the depth of the work is what is exciting. Walk in to any school in the district and you’ll see inquiry, self-regulation and digital access at work in support of innovative teaching and learning.
I’ve had the chance to be in all of our schools this month and heard dozens of stories about teachers adopting grade-wide units of inquiry, classes focusing on MindUp and other self-regulation strategies, and seen our staff taking advantage of their mobile devices and projectors that the Board has budgeted for through its commitment to classroom modernization. In future messages, I look forward to going into more detail on the work that is taking place around each of these areas in our schools.
Our best story is not what is new – but the story of the highest performing school district in the province, continuing to evolve practice to ensure our students are well prepared for the changing world.
I look forward to all of us – students, staff, parents and community continuing to work together to support learning in our community.