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Blog: Wednesday, June 28th, 2017

Thank You For Your Leadership

By Dr. Kevin Godden, Superintendent of Schools

As we wind the school year down, I would like to close with some reflections on 2016/17. This year will go down as one of my more memorable for a number of reasons. While there are many things to reflect upon, and many people to thank, here are my top five:

1. Finding Community in Tragedy

November 1, 2016 will live in our collective consciousness for years to come. The tragic loss of Letisha Reimer in a random and senseless tragedy shook our district to the core last fall. As painful as that was, our community responded with an unsurpassed outpouring of care, generosity and love like I have never seen. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the family, friends and staff of Abbotsford Senior and Middle. We hope the summer will bring you peace and appreciation about how much you are cared for by all of the families and staff across the district. I am thankful for the whole community for leaning in when we needed you most. In particular, I wish to thank the district crisis response team (CRT) members, and Abby Senior’s CRT who continue to be amazing professionals throughout this challenge.

2. Let it Snow

I am told that on at least on one occasion (February) we broke a sixty-year snowfall record for Abbotsford. We closed schools down, and had more hits on our website and Abby Schools app than ever before -- 96,000 users in one month! (I would love to see that number of people regularly visit our website to view all the amazing things going on in the district). I personally did not think the weather was that bad; I have experienced much worse when I lived in Dawson Creek many moons ago. Our friends on the east coast certainly endured more. I think we have just gotten accustomed to mild winters here and our system was just not ready for it. Nonetheless, our Facilities & Maintenance Department should be given medals for the amazing work they did to remove volumes of snow and to get our schools up and running in the time frame that they did.

3. Roadmap 2.0

Very quietly over the summer our tech crew replaced thousands of computers, and for the most part had everything up and running for the beginning of school. We have one of the best technology infrastructures in the province. Few of you will remember that just 10 years ago we had over 100 images and a 1:5 ratio of computers to students. Now we have fewer than 5 images, and a 1:2 ratio. This level of support and deployment does not happen by accident. Technology leadership requires everyone to see the big picture, and understand that the tools themselves are but a means to an end. They exist to help us learn more efficiently, help students explore further afield, and demonstrate understanding more prolifically. The school year is not quite over for our tech team just yet! Over the summer months, the IT Department will be rolling out new emails and web URLs as we say so long to SD34 and hello to Abby Schools. I would like to thank the IT Department, tech helping teachers and digital ambassadors for leading the way.

4. New Curriculum, New Language

We have made some big strides in implementing the revised curriculum this year. First and foremost, has been our improved understanding of the WHY behind the changes to our curriculum.  In a world where students have ready access to information, we must invest heavily in teaching students how to communicate effectively, think critically, creatively solve problems, and understand their personal and social identities. We are literally changing the language of learning across this province, and I am encouraged by the progress I have seen in our classrooms this year. The next task will be launching our new report card, which will assist us even more in communicating with students and parents about the competencies, standards and big ideas. While this is clearly a team effort, I would extend special thanks to our Curriculum Department for their unwavering support of this change.

5. Going Back to Go Forward

You would have had to been asleep for the last four months if you did not notice that there has been a hiring frenzy in school districts across the province for the last five months. The Memorandum of Understanding signed between the BCTF and government meant that an additional $300m has been allocated to districts (our share is about $9M). Coupled with increasing enrolment, we have had to make some tough decisions in Abbotsford over the last few months: restricting enrolment, limiting site-based decision-making and cancelling pre-school contracts is that last thing we wanted to do. But in the big scheme of things, we know that we will have more resources to address the needs of our students. Again, it has been a team effort to get through the details of this change, but I want to especially thank our HR Department, our senior team, and our principals and vice-principals for leading us through the process.

While there have certainly been numerous challenges this past year, there have been far more positives. We continue to have dedicated support staff, skilled teachers, inspirational leaders who put our students first, day in and day out. In the end, I leave that as my best reflection of 2016/17. Thank you for your leadership.

By Dr. Kevin Godden
Dr. Kevin Godden
Dr. Kevin Godden

By Dr. Kevin Godden, Superintendent of Schools

Kevin has been the Superintendent of Schools for the Abbotsford School District since July 2011, overseeing some 19,000 students and 2,500 employees. Kevin is committed to student success in all forms and envisions a school district that can nimbly respond to the ever changing needs and interests of its students.