THE PRESIDENT’S PERSPECTIVE - Brian Leonard
Connecting With Members from Near and Far
February 3, 2023 Message to Members
Last week was teeming with meetings – just like in schools, it is peak learning and meeting time! Despite this, I was happy to be able to schedule a Chapter visit. But before I share the story of the week, a few reminders about the BC geographical context.
As you know, BC is massive, so large that most of Western Europe can fit within our boundaries, yet with a fraction of the population. BC also has a rich and varied terrain with soaring mountain ranges and peaks, which makes for amazing scenery, but the same mountains also act as a physical wall between communities. I mention this because we are all realizing that travel now can be a bit more complicated than in pre-pandemic days. Our teams who travel during the winter months – including myself, our committee reps, and Member Support Services staff – have become flexible in accepting delays and adopting adaptive schedules!
I have been very fortunate in most of my travel so far, with remarkable weather: an extended summer and a very mild winter. Last week, I was delayed by a low cloud ceiling and fog enroute to Qualicum; while I had to cancel my visit with the Superintendent, I arrived in time for my spot on the agenda at the SD 69 (Qualicum) Chapter meeting. Thanks to Bowser Elementary Principal Brian Worthen for meeting me at the airport, and special thanks to Chapter President John Williams, for navigating the modified schedule and ultimately acting as my host, tour-guide, and driver!
Thanks to John, we were able to tour seven schools in 4.5 hours – almost every school in the district – whew!
And our appreciation to these teams who hosted a tour and chat:
• Ballenas Secondary – P Trish Catherine, VPs – Ben Braun & Corleen McKinnon-Sanderson
• Oceanside Elementary – P-Lesley LaCouvee, VP-Brayden Gordon
• Errington Elementary – P-Sheila Morrison, VP- Florence Wong
• Nanoose Bay Elementary – P-Kevin McKee, VP-Heather MacLeod
• Springwood Elementary – P-Jesse Witte, VP-Sarah Hung
• Kwalikum Secondary – P-Lori Marshall, VPs-Heather Deering & Jennifer Lunny
• Qualicum Beach Elementary – P-John Williams, VP-Mark McInnes
The Qualicum team is a tight network of leaders, and everyone was most welcoming and rightfully proud of their schools. John is also quite a celebrity in Qualicum, and knew most of the staff in all seven schools.
(above, Brian at YVR & with Kevin McKee, Nanoose Bay Elementary)
The sun broke through for my return to the mainland. I would like to add that my travel to and from Qualicum was on Iskwew Air. Iskwew – pronounced: ISS-KWAY-YO – is a Cree word for woman. The name celebrates Iskwew Air founder and co-owner Teara Fraser, the first Indigenous woman to launch an airline in Canada.
My whirlwind tour on the Island transitioned to a whirlwind series of meetings and gatherings in Vancouver. The BCPVPA is grateful for our strengthened and collaborative relationship with BCPSEA, and Interim Executive Director Mike Roberts and I attended their January 26-27 AGM, caught up with BCPSEA’s activities, and connected with the leaders of our sector partner organizations including BCSTA, BCSSA, and BCASBO. On Thursday evening, I attended an SD43 (Coquitlam) Chapter General Meeting, where Rochelle Morandini, BCPVPA Director of Member Health & Well-being, presented the results of our Thriving in Education survey.
On Friday, I attended the afternoon session of our Contract Advisory Committee (CAC) meeting. These regional representatives advise the Association and Board on matters pertaining to the member contract and employment relationships in Chapters around the province. In essence, they are the eyes and ears of contract negotiations for the Association. Members of this committee have specialized knowledge and understanding of the Personal Services Contracts that govern the work of all BC Principals and Vice-Principals.
On Saturday, the Member Support Services team – Ellen Roberts, Carmen Eberle, Magdalena Kassis, and Rochelle Morandini, supported by Emily Taylor – hosted our annual meeting of Contract Chairs, where a discussion of issues related to the recent compensation implementation included a presentation by BCPSEA’s Chris Beneteau. This was followed by a presentation by Ingrid Gailler representing our benefit provider, HUB International, on the necessity for some form of Short Term Disability, along with case studies that explored current contract negotiation issues. Our Contract Chairs are dedicated and frequently unsung heroes, who undertake this important work for their Chapter colleagues off the side of their desks.
On Sunday and Monday, the Association brought together members of the Professional Learning & Development Advisory Committee and Chapter Representatives for two days of immersive professional development, led first by Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s Dr. David Burns, and then by Charmaine Lyn, who facilitated a presentation on the ‘Theory of Change’. Our representatives – ably facilitated by the PLD team Andrea McComb, Peter Johnston, and Sue Boucher, supported by Nick Faulkner – did a deep dive and review of our BCPVPA Leadership Standards, as we work to update the Standards in relation to equity, diversity, inclusion, and reconciliation. Our Standards are highly respected, both within BC’s education sector and beyond. We are working to evolve them as a current, relevant, and vital tool for our members to use in their everyday work.
And so I return to the idea that although BC is an immense and diverse place – culturally, physically, and geographically – as Principals and Vice- Principals, we come together with the BCPVPA with a shared vision to support each other in providing leadership to the communities we serve, and in the work of supporting student achievement and success. It is not easy work, but it is rewarding work as we have a hand in shaping the hearts and minds of the next generation. It is an awesome responsibility: thank you for everything that you do!
Have a great weekend.
PS – Apologies to SD 28-Quesnel members Trish Simpson & Chuck Loewen (P and VP of Quesnel Junior School) whose photo below could not be placed in the January 27 issue of eNews. They are the super team – and great hosts – that opened the stunning new school in Quesnel.