So here we are, fresh on the heels of what I hope was a relaxing and revitalizing break for everyone. Now we are gearing up for what will surely be a very busy time for all of us – the final leg of the school year. While I often hear people talk about certain times as being busier than others, I’ve learned over the years that there is no such thing as a slow or downtime in our world! I’ve had some excellent opportunities lately to engage in dialogue with folks in the system and also with a number of community partners at meetings and events across the district. As usual, I am so impressed with the number of initiatives underway as well as the quality of the work being undertaken to support our students and staff alike. For example, at a recent Healthy Schools Advisory Committee meeting it struck me that if a stranger or a member of the public were to walk into the middle of the meeting they would be completely overwhelmed by the scope of our work. There were so many outstanding initiatives and supports being described. All this tremendous work is great for our schools, students and communities, and it’s given me a concrete platform on which to base upcoming comments and blogs.

It sometimes feels like we work so hard to make our schools safe, healthy, and supportive places, but we often feel like our work is never finished. I shared with the above mentioned group that I don’t see this as a negative, but rather, an opportunity. We move so quickly in and among our initiatives, and it often seems like the frantic pace we sometimes keep never really lets us stop and see the outcome of our daily efforts.

Let’s take technology as an example. We work in an environment that is constantly changing and we are teaching students who are increasingly looking for instant results – from technical supports to ways of discovering answers to complicated questions. We are very fortunate here in TLDSB to have excellent access to devices in classrooms that can help to support these new challenges. The Ontario government has recently provided funding for school boards to advance technology opportunities in classrooms with professional development for teachers. We have used further funding to encourage teachers to implement new and creative strategies using technology. I’m looking forward to seeing the impact of our increasing reliance on various forms of technology to support the teaching and learning that goes on in our schools.

Every student and every staff member is impacted in some way by how technology has developed and continues to advance. We don’t know what our world might look like decades from now; we can only guess at what brilliant advancement will impact our lives over the next few years. We have outstanding teachers and support staff in TLDSB. I am grateful for all that each of these dedicated folks do each and every day to support our students to be prepared for a progressively changing world.

I’ve vowed over the coming months to make sure I actually stop to smell the roses, if you will, and truly take stock of where we are with our work as it relates to our strategic plan, our ongoing efforts to support excellence in instruction and student success, as well as the overall well-being of our students. While I realize I need to have a growth mindset and focus on keeping an open mind, I can’t help but think that over time, as our curriculum sees revisions, our initiatives change, and pedagogy evolves, we likely never will be finished making great programs even better.