Wednesday, February 13, 2013

New Opportunity........

Last Friday it was announced that I would taking on a new role as a two year seconded Associate Superintendent for the Catholic Independent Schools of the Vancouver Archdiocese (see a portion of the release below)

Archbishop J. Michael Miller and the Board of Directors of the CISVA are pleased to announce the appointment of Mr. John Bevacqua as an Associate Superintendent for the CISVA. Mr. Bevacqua will bring his instructional and administrative leadership skills to the Superintendent’s Office in his new appointment. In his role as Associate Superintendent, Mr. Bevacqua will focus on leading our Catholic schools through the implementation of the BC Education Plan.
Mr. Bevacqua is currently the principal of St. Patrick Regional Secondary School, Vancouver where he has administered for eight years. Prior to that appointment, Mr. Bevacqua held the positions of Vice-Principal, Academic Director, Athletic Director, Grade Level Coordinator and Humanities teacher at Notre Dame Regional Secondary. He is currently serving on the Board of Directors of Corpus Christi and St. Mark’s Colleges at UBC and is also a sessional lecturer having taught the Educational Institution as an Organization course.....
With each passing day the reality of the situation settles.

I know I will miss being immersed in community with the students of St. Patrick Regional - they have been patient, kind and the greatest source of inspiration to me.

I will miss the parents, who have been trusting and patient of me.  I am humbled by the love and self sacrifice they extend to their children.

I will miss the teachers and staff who continue to extend me so much patience and continue to inspire me with their incredible service to our students.

I have much to learn in my new role.  I will be surrounded by gifted and talented educators.

But, I would be lying if I wasn't nervous.   To calm me I keep reminding myself of two quotes
"Fear, uncertainty and discomfort are your compasses toward growth.”
"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me"  Philippians 4:13

In the meantime, there is much to do and much to experience here at St. Pat's between now and July.

I am going to savor and enjoy every second of it!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

"Don't Let the Sorting Define You...."

The other day I spoke to a group of students at our academic Honour Roll assemblies.

For the last few years I have attended and spoken at these assemblies with mixed emotions and a sort of tension in my "gut".

I have written before about awards in high school and the need to walk a bit of a "tight rope" .  Yet the other day, as those students that had achieved academic honors were being called up, I couldn't help but notice how we were, once again, "sorting" our students.

Following the roll call, in a moment of inspiration and vulnerability,  I spoke the students and implored them to not be defined by how they are sorted in school.

Our education system is obsessed with sorting students.  Academic ability, athletic ability, gender, creative ability,  age, "diagnosis" - we have found any and all ways to sort students.  In most cases, I understand why we do it and understand the systemic forces that drive the sorting.   I don't necessarily agree with it.

Ken Robinson has eloquently and convincingly has made the case for changing our educational paradigm.

Perhaps the best way to shift the paradigm is to empower our students to push back against the system.

In my message to our students I asked them to do just that.  Push back against the system.  To force the adults, most of whom profess to be about "students first", to expedite some the shifts we are looking for.

I also asked the students to, regardless of how they are sorted by the system, to not be defined by this sorting.  I asked them to follow their hearts, their passions.  I asked them to explore new opportunities, to always persevere and put their best foot forward.  I asked them to define themselves NOT by any external achievements, but rather by their own internal best efforts and passions.

As the assembly ended and staff and students streamed out of gymnasium, I (naively) felt better that I may have mitigated the negative effects of the sorting we had just participated in.

I also walked over to my Vice Principals and reminded them that we need to initiate a broader conversation about reforming what we are doing with our Honour Roll Assemblies.

I hope the students took my message to heart and will put the necessary pressure on us adults to rethink how we are sorting our students.....