Thank you and have a great summer!

Thank you and have a great summer!

Summer vacation is upon us for our students and many staff. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all staff of Regina Public Schools for welcoming me as your interim director. I came into your school division, essentially as an outsider. But with every school visit and every interaction, I was struck by your openness, your welcome and your eagerness to help me feel like I belong. Thank you.

What made an impression on me was your willingness to work together, your help in deepening my understanding of how your schools operate and the community-focussed philosophies of many of the schools and their programs. Most of all, I was impressed by your professionalism and your dedication to students and their success. I saw this not only in classrooms with teachers, educational assistants and consultants, but throughout the division from Accounting and Stores, to Transportation and Facilities.

It is said that the true measure of an organization is demonstrated during a crisis. During the past few months, on a few occasions, I saw psychologists and school counsellors mobilize with school-based staff to help students, their families and colleagues deal with challenges. They did this with understanding and care.

I would also argue that an equally good measure of an organization is how it celebrates its successes and its achievements. Over the past few months, I saw the creation and promotion of our Data Wall at Division office – a place to document, report and note our achievements.

I also had the pleasure of noting a number of milestones, such as Balfour Collegiate’s 85th anniversary, the final farewell for Cochrane High School, and celebrations for the building of the Mâmawêyatitân Centre, Scott Collegiate’s new home. I also participated in the announcement of the proponent for our three new joint facility elementary schools in Harbour Landing, Greens on Gardiner and Skywood communities.

Most recently, I had the pleasure of participating in the Long Service Reception that celebrated the achievement of our superannuating staff and your colleagues who have achieved 25 years of service. Congratulations to all of them, but also to all of you, regardless of how many years of service you have. I see the same dedication and professionalism in every corner of the school division!

Some of the other highlights of the past few months included us taking the time to acknowledge and recognize the report and recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. I’m very proud to see that we now have, in every one of our schools and the Division office, a framed copy of the Government of Canada’s apology for the residential schools.

As some of you may know, before becoming your interim director, I spent some time working with the Board of Trustees. A big part of my role as interim director was to work with your Board. This was a rewarding experience, both from the point of view of helping refine and maintain sustainable governance of the school division, but also to share with them some of the learnings and experiences I have seen firsthand in the schools. It was a pleasure to share with the trustees stories of your commitment to students and how you live the Shared Values of I Respect, I Belong, I Am Responsible and I Want to Know.

A highlight for both myself and the Board was the Student-Trustee Forum where we got to hear directly from high school students about what is important to them. What we learned will be incorporated into many of the initiatives we will see in the future.

I would also like to take a moment to recognize the work of the high school principals who have worked towards an initiative to re-engage students, improve attendance and credit attainment and, ultimately, increase the grad rate for all of our students. It is important to note, that although this is a high school initiative, the exceptional work done in elementary schools, in literacy and numeracy plays a vital role in any success at the high school level and beyond.

In thanking all staff for welcoming me, I would be remiss if I did not take a moment to thank senior administration, including the deputy directors, superintendents and the staff at Division office who helped make this outsider feel welcome and empowered to let you all do what you do best. I truly felt like I was part of a well-functioning team.  

When I joined you at Regina Public Schools, I was filling in for Julie MacRae who was called to serve as Deputy Minister. I thank her for her leadership during this school year and before. On July 31, I will leave you in the very capable hands of your new Director of Education, Greg Enion. I know that there are many challenges ahead in the education sector. I also know that you are more than capable of rising to the challenge and delivering on the promise of the Regina Public Schools’ Mission Statement:

To instil the value of knowledge, the dignity of effort and the worth of the individual.

I will fondly remember my experiences and friendships at Regina Public Schools.  Thank you for the opportunity to work with you. I hope you have a safe and restful summer.

Ernie Cychmistruk

Interim Director of Education