THE PRESIDENT’S PERSPECTIVE - Brian Leonard
Member Engagement and Participation
February 17, 2023 Message to Members
No Chapter visits to report in this edition of eNews! Instead, it was our members who were on the move, as the Association hosted several important gatherings in Vancouver.
As part of the February 9 Board meeting, Board Directors met to review plans for the coming months, and to offer input to staff as the next iteration of our Strategic Plan takes shape. In the same way that schools and districts are shaped and influenced by a Board of Education, the BCPVPA’s Board makes important decisions that directly impact the financial and strategic direction of our Association.
Friday February 10 was an eventful day, starting with the first in-person meeting of the Ad Hoc Anti-Racism Advisory Committee. The Directors and members that make up this committee represent the diversity of our province and Association. The committee is comprised of the following members: Wayne Chow (SD 42 - Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows), Kenneth Headley (SD 40 - New Westminster), David Johnson (SD 23 - Central Okanagan), Iram Khan (SD 36 - Surrey), Carla Rourke (SD 52 - Prince Rupert), and Tu Loan Trieu (SD 40 - New Westminster). The Directors who sit on the committee are Past President Darren Danyluk (SD 6 - Rocky Mountain), Sid Jawanda (SD 57 - Prince George), Sanj Johal (SD 44-North Vancouver), and myself.
On Friday afternoon – with an almost equal number of members online and in-person – we launched IDEAS Forum 2023, our annual celebration of learning, leadership, and collaboration. We were inspired by author-educator Jo Chrona, who shared the first of three ‘Stories that Shift’, where educational leaders share about a moment that altered their perspectives. We welcomed Dr. David Burns, Associate Vice-President and Professor, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, as he led us through an activity to review our Leadership Standards through an equity lens. Kenneth Headley shared his Shift Story on the importance of having critical friends who can walk alongside you on your journey. This was a perfect introduction to Organizational Development Consultant Melanie Matining who spoke next on the Theory of Change framework – “a model, or a statement that illustrates the series of cause-effect relationships between activities of an organization and its intended impact.” We concluded IDEAS with a powerful Shift Story as Katie Marren, Vice-Principal, Nanaimo District Secondary School, and some of her students demonstrated how students can be powerful co-conspirators and agents of change working alongside adults in schools. The students stressed the importance of the shift from student voice to student agency.
Vice-Principal Katie Marren and her students
Dr. David Burns and consultant Melanie Matining
But the day did not end with IDEAS! On Friday evening, members gathered for Chapter Council. We were honoured to begin the evening with an inspiring acknowledgment by traditional speaker, cultural educator, and proud member of the Musqueam Nation, Shane Point, and we then welcomed Lauren Petersen and Laranna Scott from Métis Nation BC who shared about the history and traditions of the Métis Nation, and how educators can inspire and support Métis families in their schools.
Lauren Petersen and Laranna Scott
When building the Agenda for Chapter Council, my goal is to provide Chapter representatives access to people, information, or organizations that have a direct impact on the important leadership work of our members. For the final day of meetings on Saturday, February 11, we were extremely fortunate to have three presentations from guests representing the government of British Columbia, beginning with the Honourable Rachna Singh, Minister of Education and Child Care.
Minister Singh expressed her appreciation to BC’S Principals and Vice-Principals for ensuring that schools and classrooms are safe, welcoming, and inclusive places for all learners. She underlined the government’s commitment to truth and reconciliation, spoke about the importance of the K-12 Anti-Racism Action Plan (and acknowledged the key role that Principals and Vice-Principals play in this work), and commented on the importance of expanded, inclusive, and affordable childcare, in some cases in partnership with school districts. The Minister acknowledged that the education sector, like many other sectors, is experiencing workforce shortages; she shared her appreciation for the work of Principals and Vice-Principals in keeping schools focused on, “supporting learner outcomes so students leave our system at the end of grade 12 with dignity, purpose, and options to set them up for a lifetime of success.”
During her visit, Minister Singh invited me to represent the BCPVPA at the Pink Shirt Day event at the Legislature in Victoria on February 22, and I am very honoured to attend.
Minister Singh with the BCPVPA Board Members
We next welcomed Assistant Deputy Minister, Jennifer McCrea, who led us through an interactive presentation highlighting the K-12 Anti-Racism Action Plan. Jennifer acknowledged the important role that Principals and Vice-Principals continue to play in this important work. She reinforced that anti-racism work is a long-term goal focused on raising awareness of racism in our schools and society, and that it is about “empowering the youngest British Columbians to be anti-racist… (to) ensure these collective efforts continue for generations to come.”
Jennifer also acknowledged the work that the BCPVPA, in partnership with the First Nation Education Steering Committee (FNESC) and Métis Nation BC (MNBC), is currently doing to create the provincial Anti-Racism Incident Response Guidelines. These guidelines will support Principals and Vice- Principals as leaders in the K-12 system.
For our final session, Linda Beddouche, Director of Workforce Development, Ministry of Education and Child Care, and Andrew Jang, Senior Manager, Strategic Talent Acquisition, BCPSEA, co-presented about the current BC labour market. They featured specifics of our K-12 situation, including hiring trends and data, and introduced Ministry initiatives that are underway to address the situation. Linda and Andrew structured their presentation with several opportunities for comments and feedback, while recognizing the ongoing staffing challenges we are facing in schools and districts.
While there are no ‘quick fixes’, Chapter Council members now have a better understanding of the scope of the problem. They had an opportunity to voice concerns about the challenges we face, the impact on our daily work, and how that will impact student learning. In closing, members heard about some steps being taken by the Ministry and BCPSEA to help address the situation; as system leaders, we recognize that this is a shared and collective responsibility.
Linda Beddouche and Andrew Jang
Whenever our members gather, in groups large or small, there is a dynamic energy that fills the room. This past weekend provided many opportunities for members to gather and share in that energy. Thank you to all of our attendees for your engagement and participation!
Next week, I am back on Vancouver Island for a Chapter visit to Nanaimo, and then south to Victoria for Pink Shirt Day at the Legislature!
Enjoy the weekend and the extra day off.
Happy Family Day!