Connect. Collaborate. Risk. Innovate.

Connect. Collaborate. Risk. Innovate.

Friday, 11 April 2014

The Heart of a School

          Today was my last day as Acting Vice Principal at Sullivan Heights Secondary. It is difficult to put into words all that I have learned in this past month and half. It has been an amazingly rewarding and enlightening experience. I was privileged to have the opportunity to work alongside two dedicated and caring Vice Principals, Bob Whitham and Sue Beyer, whose unending hard work and consummate professionalism sustained our school during a challenging transitional period. But ultimately, in addition to my admiration for our administration team during this time, what was most enlightening was the confirmation of what I had only a glimpse of as a classroom teacher; that behind the scenes of a thriving school community there is a whole army of staff that is ultimately quietly responsible for much of the success of a school.
         This "army" rarely gets the recognition that they so truly deserve. They are the clerical and janitorial staff, the safe school liaisons and the youth care workers who so diligently and efficiently  work together as a team to ensure that teachers, counsellors and administrators have everything that they need to do their best work. They expertly support our students, answer our unending questions, maintain our over taxed facilities, listen to our endless complaints, organize our numerous events, schedule and reschedule our meetings and maintain our security, on top of numerous other responsibilities. At Sullivan Heights, this team is a family. They are the heart of our school. And for the past month and half, they welcomed me into their family and have given me their full support as I transitioned from classroom teacher to Acting Vice Principal. By doing what they do best, in addition to the support of my school and district colleagues, it made it possible for me to do my best. And for that, I am thankful.



Friday, 4 April 2014

Sullivan Heights- Transforming Challenge into Innovation

          I recently had the opportunity, along with several of my Sullivan Heights Secondary colleagues, to attend the second session of the Surrey school district's "Continuing the Conversation". The theme of each session revolves around nurturing and celebrating a positive school culture, as well as examining the attributes of resilient schools and leaders. In discussion with my colleagues, we were asked by session leaders to identify some of the strengths, as well as some of the challenges, that our school is currently facing. 
          Without question, we have our challenges. We are currently in transition, recently welcoming our new principal, Raj Puri to our Sullivan Heights family. As well, our ever increasing student population initiated a move to an extended day schedule within the last few years.  And yet, what we discovered during our discussion at "Continuing the Conversation", is that it is partly due to these challenges that Sullivan Heights has evolved into a dynamic and innovative place of learning. We have had to explore new methods to communicate effectively with our students, our staff and our community, such as Twitter, and Blogging. Our Technology and Pro D committees have worked to support teachers as they integrate digital learning into their instruction. Shared teaching and prep areas have created opportunities for increased collaboration and collegiality, leading to impromptu discussions around assessment and student achievement. Our Learning Partners program further facilitates and supports this collaboration by providing release time and creating initiatives such as our "Teacher Drop in Day". An expanding student population has provided a wealth of student leaders, resulting in the addition of our Junior Leadership group this year. 
          And so interestingly, the very elements that poise the greatest challenges at Sullivan Heights, have also inspired some of the most innovative and exciting initiatives. Would it have been preferable to arrive where we are today without these various challenges? Of course. But we because we have faced these challenges together, as a school community, we have become stronger, and ultimately, more resilient.