Community Connection letter from Official Trustee


Cowichan Valley Community Members:
With schools up and running for the 2012/13 school year, I am pleased to provide a brief update to staff and community members, and particularly to offer my thanks to staff throughout the district for such a smooth and positive school opening.

At the Public Board Meeting of September 12, there were a number of acknowledgments brought to my attention and to the attention of those in attendance. Custodial and maintenance staff did a tremendous job of getting our schools ready to welcome students. There were a number of important minor renovation and maintenance projects completed during a very busy summer season. New education initiatives were also highlighted as impressive “works in progress.” It was encouraging to hear of the significant projects and programs underway, some of which will provide direct and targeted support for early literacy and for research-based intervention to support vulnerable learners. Cowichan Valley teachers and administrators are also involved in learning more about and providing feedback on the development of the new Graduation program and overall curriculum redesign being organized under the big concepts of Communication, Critical Thinking, Creative Thinking/Innovation, Personal Responsibility/ Wellbeing, and Social Responsibility. These are transformative times in public education as we build our individual and system capacity to support learners and connect our best efforts with how students learn and what they learn. The energy and commitment being demonstrated in your schools every day is encouraging and gratifying.

The Board meeting also heard about the fine work being done throughout the district to support environmental stewardship. Energy Manager Brian Branting has been nominated for a PowerSmart award in recognition of the commitment being made in SD 79 schools and other facilities to conserve energy, reduce costs and be kinder to the planet. The cost savings are substantial on a yearly basis, all of which helps support resources to the classroom. Equally important is the growing engagement of students in this cause. Quality learning about environmental awareness has a home in the Cowichan Valley and the returns on that investment will span many years.

A motion regarding policy development led me to share my beliefs about policies and about an organization’s “values” that are often embedded in at least some of its policies. Given queries at the Question Period about whose values I was referencing, I made a commitment to bring an example of what I meant by values. For clarification, I refer to the Energy Policy (2408) with a policy statement that reads: “All effort shall be made to operate school district facilities in an environmentally sustainable fashion.” To me, that policy statement, which is supported by several Administrative Procedures, provides evidence of the district’s values. We care about the environment and commit to making decisions to help sustain environmental quality. Simply put, this policy statement does speak of values: not the values of a particular individual or group but values that can resonate across a community, over time and in a way that guides behavior.

World Teachers’ Day:

October 5 is World Teachers’ Day. I know that Superintendent Rhodes will bring comments of appreciation to the Public Board meeting of Oct. 3 in honour of this important celebration. I am pleased to add my thanks and admiration to staff throughout the Cowichan Valley School District for your commitment to learning, to children and to building a community of hope and optimism where your dedication to thoughtful and skilled educational practices help to maximize the capacity of every learner. Several years ago, I heard a principal from another country speak of her school’s motto: Every Child, Every Chance, Every Day. That resonated with me then and it continues to – I refer to it often because it speaks to the joy and the challenge of teaching and it highlights the fundamental role that education plays in our communities. To each of you who teaches and to all who support the work of teachers, thank you. You change the world.

With deep respect,

Mike McKay, Official Trustee

Cowichan Valley School District