THE PRESIDENT’S PERSPECTIVE - Brian Leonard
Letting Student Voice Guide our Practice and Decision-Making
February 10, 2023 Message to Members
You have all passed the midpoint of this school year – congratulations!
Semester 2 is well underway, and for Grade 12 students, graduation is right around the corner. Kindergarten kids are also approaching a milestone: their 100th Day celebrations. Whether you are supporting kids at the very beginning of their formal education – or cheering them across the finish line – success stories are being written across the province every day. You all deserve thanks for the difference you are making in the lives of students. Never underestimate the impact and power of your leadership.
After a whirlwind of travel and Chapter visits in recent weeks, my calendar this week has been rich with opportunities to represent the work of our members at partner meetings. The message that I always share is that Principals and Vice-Principals are deeply committed to their schools, districts, and teams, and that you are consistently focused on student achievement and success.
I represent the BCPVPA at many ‘tables’, one of which is the Advisory Group on Provincial Assessment (AGPA). Membership at this table includes all of our education partners: the Ministry of Education and Child Care, represented by Assistant Deputy Minister, Melanie Stewart; the BC School Superintendents Association (BCSSA); the BC School Trustees Association (BCSTA); the BC Teachers’ Federation (BCTF); the BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils (BCCPAC); Conseil scolaire francophone (CSF) ; the First Nations Education Steering Committee (FNESC); Métis Nation BC; the Council of Administrators of Special Education; the Federation of Independent School Associations in BC (FISA BC); the University of British Columbia (UBC); and Simon Fraser University (SFU), with chair SFU Dean of Education, Kris Magnusson.
At our meeting, last week, we heard another important voice at the table – the student voice. Thanks to SD 34 (Abbotsford) Assistant Superintendent (and committee member), Nathan Ngieng, seven Grade 8-11 students from WJ Mouat Secondary School offered very honest and articulate opinions based on their experiences with assessment, and provincial assessments including the FSA (Foundation Skills Assessment). While this group was not a representation of students from across the province, their comments were insightful and helped to shape the ensuing conversation, proving – once again – the power of student voice.
Students have a lot to say: we just have to ask them the right questions, and listen. Special thanks to Mouat Principal, Linda Pollastretti, and Vice-Principal, Baljeet Gill, for preparing the students for this opportunity to engage and be heard.
Back Row - VP Baljeet Gill, Middle Row – Principal Linda Pollastretti & Brian,
Front Row WJ Mouat students and Asst. Super Nahan Ngieng.
Last week, I had the privilege of meeting another dedicated and passionate group of people – the members of the Delta Principals’ and Vice-Principals’ Association at their Chapter dinner meeting. This close-knit and friendly group are dedicated to their work, to each other, and to the district. They are proud of the close working relationship they have with their District Leadership Team, led by Superintendent (and former Coquitlam Principal) Doug Sheppard. The Delta Chapter President Taj Reel is another former Coquitlam colleague, and I’m grateful to Taj for arranging the visit and for the catch-up!
When I visit Chapters, I often ask how many Vice-Principals in attendance have been in the role for fewer than five years. The forest of hands that rose at the Delta meeting shocked nearly everyone. Based on our BCPVPA membership data, almost 75% of Vice-Principals in BC have been in the role for five years or less. Considering that we are nearing the three-year anniversary of the declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic in our province, that means that many of our Vice-Principal colleagues took on their roles during the pandemic! Thanks to the Delta crew for so clearly illuminating that point for me.
Brian with Delta Chapter President Taj Reel, Past President Aron Akune, and Vice President John Pavao
This week wraps with a host of important gatherings. Following Thursday’s Board of Directors meeting, this morning we host the first in-person meeting of the BCPVPA Ad Hoc Anti-Racism Advisory Committee, and this afternoon we are excited to dive into our IDEAS Forum. We close out the day with the first session of Chapter Council this evening, featuring an Indigenous welcome from Indigenous artist and Musqueam member Shane Pointe, followed by a presentation by Lauren Petersen of Métis Nation BC. On Saturday, we are very pleased to welcome Minister of Education and Child Care, the Honourable Rachna Singh; Assistant Deputy Minister, Jennifer McCrea; and the Ministry’s Director of Workforce Development, Linda Beddouche, who will co-present with Andrew Jang, Senior Manager, Strategic Talent Acquisition, BCPSEA.
Your Chapter Presidents and Representatives will update you next week when they return home, and I will share a highlight reel in next week’s eNews. Watch for a Member Update with the February Chapter Council Summary in the coming weeks.