Chairperson’s Report to Council for December 2022
by Judy Kelley, Chairperson, LBPSB
A year ago we were gearing up for earlier than originally planned school closures before the holiday break, coupled with uncertainty about how and when students would return to school after the holidays – On line, in person, which dates, which week. We were also grappling, on a personal level, with directives from the government about how many people could gather (or not) in a group of 10 during holiday festivities. And then a curfew was imposed, which now seems to be a somewhat distant and strange memory to me in December 2022. Yet, here we are, a year later, on the 12th day of the 12th month of 2022, still grappling with how to ensure our LBPSB community’s well-being, regarding public health measures, is best managed. Here we are tonight meeting as a Council in person, cautiously, for the first time in almost 3 years, with some of the commissioners meeting each other off screen for the first time. This is a trial run in a new format, a different configuration in the renovated Board room, almost a dress rehearsal for 2023. What we do know is that at the LBPSB public meetings such as this one will not return to the identical set-up we left behind in 2020. What we don’t know, yet, is precisely which technology for webcasting we will implement to best facilitate our Council and Executive meetings in 2023. For the past many, many months, on Council evenings, the Council of Commissioners and the Administration have been meeting on the Zoom platform for about 4 hours straight, with 2 hours of Caucus meeting prior to the public Council meeting. That’s a lot of screen time. I am pleased we are at the Board’s head office tonight, in a place where we can connect, see and hear each other, in person, and appreciate the people, the humans behind the faces on the Zoom screen. Is Zoom easier? Yes. Is it the only way to go, no? In the meantime, a warm welcome to all around this Council table and in the Board room.
In making connections, commissioners have been able to do so for the past several years with a person who has been integral and paramount to the work we do at the LBPSB. We have come to know the extraordinary resourcefulness and dedication behind the scenes of Assistant Director, Tom Rhymes, a person who has significantly contributed to our Council by collaborating with us and in guiding us with patience and a steady hand as we strive to do the best for the LBPSB. And as Tom Rhymes would also say, in striving for the best we can always do better. Although this is our last official meeting together, Tom, rest assured that as you fill your retirement days in 2023 in whatever ways you determine and plan to enjoy, we will still depend on you as we remember and revisit your words of wisdom (and your mother’s) as a beacon for us as we continue the work we have been doing together always putting the learner, the student, first. Thank you, Tom Rhymes.
Tonight we will be approving the LBPSB’s Annual Report for 2021-2022. In reading through the report you will see the culmination and results of work done and successes throughout the school board based on the themes of achievement, wellness and engagement. “LBPSB successes are the direct result of the hard work of students, the support of families and the commitment and dedication of staff. In every school and centre, from Preschool to Secondary V to Professional Training, students and staff come together daily to explore their worlds, learn new skills and creatively find ways to demonstrate that they are learning. It is in this spirit of commitment, collaboration and creativity that we present our 2021-22 Annual Report to the community” (Annual Report page 4.) this evening. In 2023 the Ministry of Education will provide priorities for public education which will bring forth a framework to make all the necessary connections in setting educational goals throughout the Board in the creation of a new strategic plan. It is important to point out that many challenges, both difficult and exciting, faced the LBPSB community in 2021-22. I won’t list them, but we can all remember their significance, and throughout the system how we came together to support one another in creating the best possible outcomes for our students.
I’d like to conclude this evening’s report with a repeat message from December 2021. With the holidays approaching quickly many of us are thinking a lot about others and how we can demonstrate good will. Part of my family’s Christmas advent tradition is to celebrate light with hope, love, joy and peace. May you all embrace what is important to you and your families during the upcoming weeks. And if I could, once again, remind us all to promote KINDNESS. A daily act of kindness does not cost a cent. A society without pervasive kindness costs us all. We must continue to make a positive difference. We need to lead by example. Bringing out the goodness in all of us, using this endless resource, will enhance and enrich the fact that we are the best school board in the Province. Thank you and best wishes for the holidays and 2023.