Message from the Executive Director
An archive of messages from the Executive Director
CASSA Executive Director
I am hoping that you, your family and the communities you serve are healthy and looking forward to Spring…and Summer and a return to whatever “normal” looks like in September.
Yesterday, CASSA along with CSBA and School Mental Health Ontario launched our Canadian School Mental Health Leadership Network. The network is comprised of school system leaders (administration and trustees) from throughout Canada.
Canadian SMH Leadership Network Goals:
- To enhance the quality and consistency of decision-making amongst Canadian system leaders in the area of school mental health
- To advance mental health knowledge and confidence amongst Canadian system leaders
- To deepen relationships across provinces, researchers, and networks in order to better mobilize shared knowledge for front-line education staff
Network leaders are being informed by an amazing group of thought leaders:
John C. LeBlanc, MD, MSc, FRCPC
Pediatrics, Community Health and Epidemiology, Psychiatry
Kathy Georgiades, PhD
David R. (Dan) Offord Chair in Child Studies and
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences McMaster University & Offord Centre for Child Studies
Deinera Exner-Cortens, PhD, MPH
Tier II Canada Research Chair, Childhood Health Promotion
Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Arts
Adjunct Assistant Professor, Faculty of Social Work
Joint Appointment, Department of Psychiatry, Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary
Brenda M Restoule, Ph.D., C.Psych
CEO, First Peoples Wellness Circle
Michael Ungar, Ph.D.
Canada Research Chair in Child, Family and Community Resilience
I am sure you will agree that this is a most impressive array of thought leaders whose expertise address many aspects of school mental health. We are indebted to the McConnell Family Foundation for its financial support to make this network a reality.
Wednesday July 6th - Anti-Racism
Thursday July 7th - School Mental Health
Friday July 8th - Indigenous Education
Sessions will run for about 3 hours each day and will provide an opportunity to learn together with colleagues from CASSA and CSBA.
On behalf of the CASSA Board of Directors, I hope that you and your families along with communities your serve are safe and healthy.
Recently, the CASSA Board met with Chantal Beaulieu, Executive Director of the Council of Ministers of Education (CMEC) with whom CASSA has an excellent relationship. This was Chantal’s third annual conversation with our board.
- A forum to discuss education policy issues
- A mechanism through which to undertake projects, research and initiatives in areas of common interest for the provinces and territories
- A means by which to consult and cooperate with national organizations and the federal government
- An instrument to represent the common education interests of provinces and territories internationally
CMEC has a number of educational priorities including:
- Indigenous Education
- Reimagining the Future of Education including Technology in Education, Student and Staff Well-Being and Global Competencies
- Canadian Education on the World Stage
It is wonderful to see that CMEC has many of the same priorities as CASSA (notably student and staff well-being) including advocacy for increased and equitable access to internet connectivity and access to technology.
CASSA and the Canadian School Boards Association (CSBA) sent letters to federal ministers advocating for increased and equitable access to internet connectivity. While the federal response has been disappointing, I am proud that the CASSSA board has advocated on behalf of many rural. remote and Indigenous communities across Canada.
CASSA has become involved in some exciting new projects:
- With CSBA and RNDGÉ and Heritage Canada - a proposal to create a database related to teacher recruitment and retention in Minority French Language and in French Immersion and French as a Second language programs across Canada
- With School Mental Health Ontario and CSBA and thought leaders across Canada - a Mental Health Leadership Network
- With Nelson (https://www.nelson.com) and CSBA - a webinar - COVID - 19: Lessons Learned - Monday April 12th from 1-2 Eastern - additional details to follow
Thanks as always to the dedicated members of the CASSA Board who continue to support our national association of school system leaders from coast to coast to coast.
I hope that this message finds you and your families and communities safe and healthy. I know that many parts of the country are experiencing the second wave and that flu season is also upon us.
Hopefully, you are aware that the CASSA Board of Directors meets monthly to discuss CASSA operational matters and more importantly to participate in a discussion called “Cross Country Check In”. The check in has been an opportunity to update one another about the state of education in each province and territory. As you can imagine, the last many months have centred around COVID and more recently the re-entry experiences.
You may also be aware that the CASSA Board has engaged in frequent ZOOM meetings with its counterparts in the Canadian School Boards’ Association (CSBA) and its Executive Director, Nancy Pynch-Worthylake.
There are a number of themes and common issues and challenges that exist across the country that have been shared across our two associations:
- Access to technology and connectivity is uneven and is very problematic in rural and remote communities including First Nations communities
- Food insecurity has also been magnified when schools were closed
- Transportation has been and continues to be a challenge with limits on the number of students allowed on buses along with trouble securing enough drivers and buses
- Flexible opt in dates for returning students wishing to engage in in-class instruction and opt out dates for those wishing to learn remotely have presented staffing and school organization challenges
There have also been some positive experiences as reported by both school system leaders and elected officials:
- Ministries have allowed school districts to adopt models that reflect local circumstances Of course, the local autonomy has been permitted within certain provincial and territorial guidelines and mandates from Ministries of Education and Health
- Co-operation, consultation and communication between and among education partners and stakeholders has been a strength in many places across the country
Another wonderful outcome has been the development of a close connection and relationship between CASSA and CSBA. Each association shares a common interest and commitment to quality education and we will continue to engage with each other as we move forward.
I will finish by saying that CASSA will continue to support school system leaders across the country to fulfill its purpose: to promote and support quality education for each student.
Here is a link to the CASSA Board of Directors. Please connect with your provincial or territorial rep to hear more about CASSA and its work.
Welcome back to another year of CASSA newsletters!
I am not sure how much downtime each of you had over the summer given the uncertainty around what the 2020-2021 school year would look like. I am sure it was unlike any other summer you have had or any other September start-up you have ever planned. Hopefully, you, your families and your communities are healthy and remain so.
Each September the CASSA board experiences a natural turnover of members as associations change their executives, CASSA board member terms expire and retirements occur.
Leaving the board after many years of commitment to the importance of a national organization of school system leaders is Anne O’Brien. Anne spent the last six years on the Executive as president-elect, president and past president. In her tenure, Anne represented CASSA nationally and internationally with honour and distinction. The board will miss her experience and sense of humour…both of which we so badly need.
Also leaving the board having served many years is Metro Huculak. Metro was the first CASSA Board member representing the Northwest Territories (along with Curtis Brown). Metro always brought forward insightful updates and strong advocacy on behalf of northern territorial leaders and their communities of students. We wish him well in his retirement!
Barry Litun, Executive Director of the College of Alberta School Superintendents (CASS) is retiring from that role. Barry has been an exemplary association executive director keeping his members actively engaged in the provincial association and representing Alberta school system leaders on the CASSA board. We hope Barry enjoys his retirement!
Although their terms were shorter, their contributions were strong and effective and we express our thanks to Ab Falconi (Ontario Catholic Supervisory Officers’ Association - OCSOA), Allan McManaman (Ontario Public Supervisory Officers’ Association - OPSOA) and Karen Shipka (CASS).
New to the CASSA board is David Keohane, the new Executive Director of CASS, Wilco Tymensen (CASS), Simone Gessler (Northwest Territories Superintendents’ Association) and Lori Naar (OCSOA).
There are a few changes to the CASSA Executive. I welcome Kevin Kaardal to the President-Elect role. Kevin previously represented the BC School Superintendents’ Association (BCSSA).
I want to thank Reg Klassen (Manitoba Association of School Superintendents - MASS) who has served CASSA so well over the past two years in his role as President. Reg is a very strong leader who always had the best interests of Canada’s leaders at the forefront of his interactions here in Canada and the United States. I will miss his leadership and friendship!
Hope your year starts off as well as possible given the extraordinary times in which you lead!
Staying Healthy and Safe
I hope that this newsletter finds you and your families safe and healthy. Healthiness has many dimensions…emotional…physical…spiritual. It is my hope that you are taking care of, as best as possible, all aspects of your healthiness.
President Reg Klassen’s piece in this newsletter is an excellent portrayal of the personal challenges facing each of us as we live through this crisis. As a father, grandfather and son-in-law to an elderly father-in-law, the inability to physically interact is very difficult. Yet we must in order to return to a “new normal” at some point.
System leaders along with school and classroom leaders have been working long hours to ensure that all students can continue to learn at home. The pandemic has uncovered or at least highlighted inequities in our jurisdictions that we must not forget or lose sight of when schools re-engage. From food insecurity to the lack of access to technology and connectivity…the inequities across our districts have become glaringly obvious. The challenge of course is what can and will we do about it.
You are likely aware that we have cancelled the CASSA2020 conference scheduled for July 2020 in St. Andrew’s By The Sea, New Brunswick. We are planning to reconvene in Montreal in July 2021 as along as it is safe to do so. We will use the same theme for Montreal - “Equity and Inclusion for Student Well-Being” and will ask our speakers and workshop to reflect on the lessons learned from this pandemic as they shape their presentations where appropriate.
We will return to St. Andrew’s in 2021 and look forward to wonderful Maritime hospitality.
As systems and schools gradually re-open…I know that you will attend to the healthiness of your communities…especially the social-emotional health as students return from many months of isolation and return to a “new normal” school experience.
Thank you for all you do to support the healthiness of your communities while ensuring continuity of learning in these extraordinary times.
Recently, the CASSA Board of Directors held its annual Winter Planning meetings in Toronto.
I am delighted to report that we had directors from British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Northwest Territories, Quebec, New Brunswick, RNDGÉ, and Newfoundland and Labrador - an excellent coast to coast to coast representation!
The agenda included a Thoughtexchange activity in which board members reflected on how CASSA is doing currently along with thoughts on how the association can evolve and grow. The board also heard from Melanie Davis, CEO and President of PHE Canada and Chris Markham, CEO and President of Ophea (Ontario Physical Health Education Association) with an update on the progress of the Canadian Alliance for Healthy School Communities. CASSA is a steward with the Alliance and we are joined by other stewards including the Canadian School Boards Association. The board also engaged in a conversation with Chantal Beaulieu, Executive Director of the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada. Finally, the board received an update from Catherine McCulloch from CMC Leadership with an update on Strong Districts and their Leadership - Equity and Inclusion for Student Well-Being including recent research from Dr. Ken Leithwood.
It was an intense two days in which we looked inward and outward to fulfill our vision, mission and beliefs. Thanks to our corporate supporters for their contributions to the success of our board meetings: Thoughtexchange, EF Educational Tours and Nelson Canada.
SAVE the DATE: July 2-4 - St. Andrew’s by the Sea, New Brunswick when we will examine promising classroom, school and district approaches to equity and inclusion to support student mental health and well-being. Consider submitting a workshop proposal: information and Key Dates
See you there!!
As we embark on another year, I want to express my appreciation to those members of the CASSA Board of Directors who have retired and/or whose terms have ended: Theresa Kennedy (OCSOA - Ontario), Donna Davidson (MASS - Manitoba), Penny Prysnuk (Yukon - Retired) and Colleen Kappel (OPSOA - Ontario - Retired), Michael Chechile (ADGESBQ - Quebec - Retired) and Bronson Collins (NLASSA - Newfoundland and Labrador - Retired).
A warm welcome to our newest members: Mike Helm (ADGESBQ -Quebec),
Ab Falconi (OCSOA - Ontario), Pauline Clarke (MASS - Manitoba), Andrew Hickey (NLASSA - Newfoundland and Labrador) and Allan McManaman (OPSOA - Ontario).
I am sometimes asked about CASSA member benefits. Certainly, the discounted conference registration fee is the most often utilized member benefit. Another one relates to our partnership with GoodLife Fitness.
GoodLife Fitness is bringing its nationally acclaimed Health & Wellness Leadership Summit to Calgary, Alberta on Tuesday October 22, 2019 at BMO Centre at Stampede Park and to Toronto, Ontario on Tuesday November 26, 2019 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, South Building.
This year’s Summit will spotlight many important topics including:
- Authentic Leadership - tools for building a psychologically safe and healthy workplace that supports inclusiveness, engagement and collaboration
- Adapting to the Future of Digital Health – finding a balance between hi-touch and hi-tech approaches to health and wellness
- Risk Management - using behavioural science to improve employees’ health & support organizational objectives
- Resiliency – keys to transforming workplace culture and empowering people to new heights
The CASSA- ACGCS strategic plan is inclusive of student and staff well-being as means to support optimal workplace performance and quality of life experience!
We are pleased to work with the organizers to extend a registration discount for CASSA-ACGCS members and guests to save up to 40% off the regular conference fee.
Another member benefit relates to our relationship with CMEC and its ongoing copyright advocacy for boards. Copyright rules for educators have changed significantly in recent years. While teachers have new opportunities to use copyright-protected materials in their lessons, they also have responsibilities. There are limits to what can be copied and communicated in the classroom. Teachers must know what they can and cannot do with the copyright-protected works of others. Failure to comply with copyright law can result in a teacher, school, or school board being sued for copyright infringement. The fair dealing provision in Canada’s copyright law permits teachers to copy and communicate short excerpts from copyright-protected works provided the dealing is “fair.”
FairDealingDecisionTool.ca helps teachers decide, with a few clicks, whether the fair-dealing provision in the Copyright Act permits copying of short excerpts from print materials, artistic works, or audiovisual materials for students without needing to obtain copyright permission.
Welcome Back to what I hope was an enjoyable change of pace for all of you...time to enjoy some down time...with family...friends...whether you travelled...or stayed close to home...or even at home...a summer break is always welcomed!
CASSA enjoyed another successful annual conference this July in British Columbia as almost 200 school system leaders and educators gathered to further their understanding of promising practices that support active healthy living for our students.
The conference opened with the presentation of the EXL Award for excellence in school system leadership. Thanks to XEROX Canada for its ongoing sponsorship of the award. The 2019 national recipient is Shannon Barnett-Aikman from Northwest Territories.
We were lead off by Dr. Doug Gleddie from the University of Alberta who brought us some of the statistics and context for the importance of a strong physical education program in our districts and divisions.
His keynote was followed the next day by Ted Temerzoglou, VP and Student Success from Thompson Educational Publishing who provided even more of the research and context for healthy active living and its importance and relevance to student wellness.
The next day and a half included 40 workshops that covered such themes as: outdoor play including risky play, physical active wellness and student mental health and well-being.
The Thursday afternoon was spent engaging in our own wellness activities in and around Stanley Park as many went for a 45-
minute historical walking tour and some went off on a bike ride in and around the park. The afternoon ended with a wonderful networking reception overlooking the Vancouver waterfront.
My thanks to David Mann from EFTours for his support to make the Thursday events happen as EFTours organized our Stanley Park activities and co-sponsored the reception along with CASSA.
Thanks to all our sponsors who generously provide support to the conference. Please check the complete list of exhibitors on our conference webpage (http://conference.cassa- acgcs.ca/CASSA_sponsors.html)
Thanks as well to the delegates who took time to be with us in BC. We know that PD money is “tight” and we appreciate your commitment to CASSA this year.
Lastly...a huge thanks to the members of the CASSA Board of Directors who came to BC...without their ongoing support...the organization would not be able to be so successful.
Recently, I had the opportunity to participate, on behalf of CASSA, in an informal roundtable discussion on key priorities in education across the country with education partners and members of the Council of Ministers of Education Secretariat (CMEC).
What is CMEC?
The Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC) is an intergovernmental body founded in 1967 by ministers of education to serve as:
a forum to discuss policy issues;
a mechanism through which to undertake activities, projects, and initiatives in areas of mutual interest;
a means by which to consult and cooperate with national education organizations and the federal government; and
an instrument to represent the education interests of the provinces and territories internationally.
CMEC provides leadership in education at the pan-Canadian and international levels and contributes to the exercise of the exclusive jurisdiction of provinces and territories over education.
CMEC is governed by an Agreed Memorandum approved by all members. A Chair is elected every two years based on rotation among the provinces. The current Chair is the Honourable Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, British Columbia. All 13 provinces and territories are members.
CMEC celebrates its 50th year in 2017. Our new timeline provides an overview of CMEC’s milestones since 1967.” (sourced from the CMEC website: https://www.cmec.ca/en)
At the roundtable, I learned about the three main CMEC overarching mandates: policy, programs and international connections. I shared CASSA’s main priorities that include: student mental health and well-being (including an equity lens), staff mental health and our participation in the Canadian Alliance for Healthy School Communities.
Among the many program and policy areas in which CMEC is involved are: well-being, Indigenous Education, Global Competencies, Early Learning Childhood and Development, Postsecondary Education, Copyright, and Assessments, among others.
From the international connections perspective, CMEC is very involved with UNESCO’s Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG4) and its targets (https://en.unesco.org/education2030-sdg4/targets) as well as the OECD Education 2030 project (http://www.oecd.org/education/2030-project/). The SDG4 targets “ensure inclusive and
CASSA has included improving student and staff mental health and well-being as one of its priorities and has joined four other organizations who share a commitment to healthy school communities as stewards in the Canadian Alliance for Healthy School Communities. The Alliance is a collaboration of stakeholders spanning the interests of both health and education working together to advance healthy school communities through a comprehensive school health approach. Our vision is “Every school in Canada is a healthy school community.”
The four other stewardship organizations are DASH BC, EverActive Schools – Alberta, Ophea – Ontario and PHE Canada. More about the Alliance as we progress.
Since my last update, I have been to the American superintendents’ national conference. Their annual conference is very large in scale as there are so many more superintendents in the United States than here in Canada. In fact, the average size of a school district in the US is about 3300 students. There were several speakers and workshops focussing on the importance of strong system leadership in helping to improve student achievement. It was also an opportunity to gather as a group of CASSA members to celebrate the recipient of the CASSA EXL Award for outstanding system leadership in Canada. The 2018 recipient is David Keohane, Superintendent of Greater St. Albert Catholic Schools. David was recognized by his American colleagues during the conference and the CASSA members who were at the conference got together to celebrate his achievements.
Please SAVE THE DATE for this year’s CASSA2019 Conference at the Vancouver Sheraton Airport Hotel in Richmond. The conference begins on the evening of July 3rd and ends mid-afternoon of the 5th. Check the conference website to register and make your hotel reservations. Here is the link : http://conference.cassa-acgcs.ca.
Look forward to seeing you there!!
Welcome to 2019! On behalf of the board, I want to wish you and your families all the best in the upcoming year.
I am very proud of the recently updated CASSA website Resources pages. The Resources pages reinforce our commitment to the CASSA Mission and Beliefs.
The Resources section is divided into several sub-sections: Mental Health, Equity, Learning Divides and Other and includes some new entries. Learning Divides: Using data to Inform Educational Policy is a sequel to the 2006 report, Learning Divides: Ten Policy Questions about the Performance and Equity of Schools and Schooling Systems (Wilms 2006). Two other recent entries come to CASSA from two national Foundations with whom CASSA has developed an excellent relationship: Lawson Foundation Outdoor Play and Early Learning Policy Symposium and and McConnell Foundation – Empathy and Well-being for Educators Summary Report. Lastly, there is a new Equity resource: SOGI: Tools and Resources for LGBTQ Inclusive Education.
SAVE THE DATE – July 3-5 for CASSA2019 at the Sheraton Vancouver Airport Hotel. Here is a link to the conference website to book your room using the CASSA code. More information about the conference will be coming in the next few weeks including highlights of our keynotes and registration information.
Recently I attended the Lawson Foundation Outdoor Play and Early Learning Policy Research Symposium as a guest of the foundation. The symposium brought together outdoor play and early learning researchers and practitioners from Canada, Finland, Sweden, Netherlands, Scotland, Ireland and the United States. CASSA was invited so that the voice of school system leaders could be included given that early learners arrive at our doorsteps every morning.
The Lawson Foundation provided participants with a Position Statement on Active Outdoor Play. “Access to active play in nature and outdoors - with its risks - is essential for healthy child development. We recommend increasing children’s opportunities for self-directed play outdoors in all settings – at home, at school, in child care, the community and nature.”
Not only were the benefits of play being advanced but the notion of “risky outdoor play” was an important theme for the symposium. I heard from researchers and early childhood educators about the physical and mental health benefits of outdoor play. According to Outdoor Play Canada, “risky play is a thrilling and exciting form of play that involves the possibility of physical injury and can include play with great heights, play with high speed, play with dangerous tools, play with dangerous objects, play near dangerous elements, rough-and- tumble play and play where children can “disappear”/get lost. Risky play provides opportunities for challenge, testing limits, exploring boundaries and learning about injury risk.”
While the notion of encouraging children to engage in dangerous play may be difficult to fully embrace, the research is very clear on the many physical and mental health benefits that result when children play outdoors.
I also participated in the EdCan Superintendents’ meeting in Lethbridge, Alberta. Leaders from BC, Alberta, Manitoba, Northwest Territories joined leaders from RNDGÉ and First Nations to share current issues and trends. Not surprisingly, many of the issues resonated across those jurisdictions and interests (teacher shortages - especially in rural and remote districts, governance, executive compensation, the politicization of education priorities as well as accountability and reporting). We also learned of the unique needs of minority language francophone leaders (outside Quebec) and those of our Indigenous communities.
I am happy to welcome everyone back and bring you up to date with respect to CASSA news.
First, my thanks to the following board members whose terms have concluded – Veronique Marin (Quebec), Karen Edgar and Deb Crawford (Ontario), Darrell Paproski (Saskatchewan), Colleen Symyrozum-Watt (Alberta) Brett Lough and Ken Klassen (Manitoba).
Secondly, I want to welcome our newest members: Jan Langelier (Quebec), Barb Isaak and Donna Davidson (Manitoba), Karen Shipka (Alberta) Colleen Kappel and Theresa Kennedy (Ontario), Gwen Keith (Saskatchewan). We thank everyone past and present for their commitment to CASSA – your national voice for senior leaders!
We had a very successful conference in Ottawa at which time we celebrated several outstanding leaders who were nominated by their provincial and territorial associations. Nominees included Anne O’Brien (Ontario), Yvonne Careen (Northwest Territories) and Steven Colpitts (Quebec). Congratulations to David Keohane, Superintendent of the Greater St. Albert Catholic Schools (Alberta) who we honoured as Canada’s outstanding school system leader for 2018. We will honour David again at the AASA National Conference in Los Angeles in February 2019.
I was a keynote speaker at the League of Educational Administrators, Directors and Superintendents of Saskatchewan (LEADS) Summer Short Course in beautiful Lake Waskesiu Saskatchewan. I provided an update on CASSA’s Strategic Plan along with a cross country review of territorial and provincial efforts to promote student health and well-being. I cannot overstate my appreciation for the hospitality I enjoyed in beautiful Saskatchewan.
CASSA continues to be viewed as a key member of the national landscape as evidenced by our participation in the Healthy School Communities National Forum (Ottawa – November), the National Summit on Teacher and School Staff Wellbeing (Montreal – November and the Shaping the Future Conference (Lake Louise – January/February) and). I sit on a policy sub-committee for the Canadian Public Health Association (https://www.cpha.ca) and contribute on behalf of the association. CASSA has also developed a strong relationship with the Council of Ministers of Education Canada (https://www.cmec.ca/en/) and the Canadian School Boards’ Association (http://cdnsba.org).
I participated in meetings in late August including a day with PHECanada (https://phecanada.ca/ ), DASHBC ( https://dashbc.ca ), EverActive Schools ( https://everactive.org/ ) and OPHEA (https://www.ophea.net). We discussed the potential of working together to promote healthy school communities. This was followed by two days hosted by Well Ahead (https://mcconnellfoundation.ca/initiative/wellahead/) and School Mental Health ASSIST (https://smh-assist.ca) to consider system-wide implementation of sustainable approaches to mental health and well-being in K-12 education..
Check this link (http://fairdealingdecisiontool.ca/DecisionTool/) for information about copyright legislation and our collective obligation to comply.
As part of our strategic plan, CASSA is planning to extend our reach and participate as invited in other national conversations about matters related to student success.
SAVE the DATE – Healthy Living – Active Learning – Vancouver, BC July 3-5, 2019 at the Sheraton Vancouver Airport Hotel
Alberta I have recently returned from the College of Alberta School Superintendents (CASS) conference. The conference activities included the Annual General Meeting and a reception to celebrate the members of CASS who have recently retired or will retire in the next several months. I was joined at the CASS event by CASSA board members, Kevin Kardaal from BCSSA and Karen Edgar from OPSOA. As I reflected on what I would say in my remarks…memories of the invaluable contributions that CASS members have made to CASSA jumped out. CASSA had previously experienced some difficult times yet CASS (and a few other affiliates) stayed with the organization. We are now so very strong with representation from all ten provinces and three territories. As I reflected on the CASS leaders who contributed to ensure CASSA remained alive and well…the following names came to mind: Jim Gibbons, Ed Wittchen, Lee Lucente, John Darroch, Roger Nippard, Barry Wowk and Kath Rhyasson. I am certain there were many more members of CASS who helped CASSA throughout the years but, in my experience, these were the leaders I came to know and admire from Alberta. Currently CASS is well served by its current Executive Director, Barry Litun and for the past two years…and now CASS past president, Colleen Symyrozum-Watt. My personal best wishes and congratulations to St. Albert Public Schools Superintendent, Barry Wowk on his upcoming retirement. Barry contributed sixteen years of service to CASSA and last year, was honoured with a CASSA Honourary Lifetime Membership.
CASSA 2018 in Ottawa Planning is well underway for our annual conference. We have finalized the names of our opening and closing keynotes. The conference will be opened by Dr. Michael Ungar: http://www.michaelungar.com. Dr. Ungar is a very engaging and thoughtful presenter who will speak about the importance of building children’s resiliency. Please look at his website to learn more about Dr. Ungar and his research into resilience. Our closing speaker will be Dean Shareski, from Discovery Education. Dean Shareski is the Community Manager for Discovery Education Canada. He taught grades 1-8 for 14 years and spent 9 as a digital learning consultant for Prairie South School Division in Moose Jaw, SK. In addition, he an adjunct professor at Wilkes University. His blog consistently ranks among the top educational blogs. In 2010 he won the ISTE Award for Outstanding Leader of the Year. Dean has had the opportunity to speak to a variety of education audiences both nationally and internationally. He has recently authored “Embracing a Culture of Joy” and co-authored, “Different Schools for a Different World”. His passion remains helping teachers explore the affordances of technology for learning.
Conference registration is now live: http://conference.cassa-acgcs.ca/CASSA-register.html
Travel and accommodations can be made using this link: http://conference.cassa-acgcs.ca/CASSA-hotel_travel.html
If you are interested in presenting at CASSA, I ask you to use this link to submit your proposal: https://airtable.com/shr2bYVMlTBDjdTbI. Proposals will be accepted until mid-April.
Executive Director Winter Message (2017-2018)
This has been a busy few weeks for CASSA and the Board of Directors.
Towards a Better Way - I had the opportunity to participate in a national gathering of individuals and associations interested in promoting healthy school communities. CASSA was invited to attend because of our commitment to student mental health and well-being and our emerging partnership with PHE Canada which began at the 2017 conference in Halifax. It was a very productive two days and concluded with a commitment to further consolidate the group and its goals to ensure we work together for healthy school communities. My thanks to Ontario Physical Health Education Association, Ever Active Schools, PHE Canada and the Joint Consortium for School Health for their leadership and stewardship in facilitating the work that began in Ottawa back in November 2017.
CASSA Winter Planning Meetings – Twenty-one members of the CASSA board of directors recently met in Toronto for two days of planning. I am pleased to report that we had representatives from nine provinces and one territory along with the francophone directors general association from boards outside Quebec. Our president, Anne O’Brien (Director of Education, Durham Catholic District School Board) has reported on the content of meetings in her article this month. The board agreed that CASSA must continue to lead the way around student mental health and well-being by hosting resources from across the country on its website and by continuing to promote mental health as a topic at our conferences. The board also affirmed that CASSA can and should continue the partnership, described above, with those like-minded individuals and associations committed to the promotion of healthy school communities with a focus on healthy, active living and play. CASSA looks forward to our focused “next steps”.
AASA – Seven members of the CASSA board attended the AASA National Conference – Education in the Digital Age. AASA is the American counterpart to CASSA. There were many speakers and breakout sessions that I know we all enjoyed! The current administration in Washington has not been particularly favourable to public education in the United States, which in many parts of Canada is known as “publicly funded education”. Our American colleagues are proud of the work they do every day on behalf of the millions of students they serve in public schools across the US.
Ottawa2018 – Supporting Each Student – I would be remiss if I failed to mention the upcoming CASSA2018 conference in Ottawa from July 4-6. We have introduced some interesting changes to the format this year. The conference will be organized into five sub themes that demonstrate how boards/districts/divisions support each student (Equity, Use of Technology, Play and Active Living, Managing Resources, the Agile Learning Classrooms/Critical Thinking Skills).
Workshop time slots will be one hour in length with either two 30-minute or one 60-minute presentation filling the slot. Lastly, we have reached out to our francophone leaders to offer workshops in French. We are currently accepting workshop proposals until the middle of March. Please use this link if you want to submit a proposal https://airtable.com/shr2bYVMlTBDjdTbI. Registration is not “live” yet but will be very soon. Please continue to check the CASSA Conference website for registration details using this link http://conference.cassa-acgcs.ca. Here is the link to secure your room in the room block as well as to take advantage of travel discounts http://conference.cassa-acgcs.ca/CASSA-hotel_travel.html
I am happy to welcome everyone back and bring you up to date with respect to CASSA news.
I am pleased to report that CASSA now includes members from all ten provinces and all three territories!! The total membership is around 1500 and I am delighted that we can say that we are a truly national association from sea to sea to sea!!
First, my thanks to the following board members whose terms have concluded - Barry Wowk and Loretta Notten. Thanks as well to Simone Rose-Oliver and Guy LeBlanc who have retired from education. Barry and Simone served the board exceptionally well as our reps to the American Superintendents’ Association.
Secondly, I want to welcome our newest member from the British Columbia School Superintendents’ Association – Claire Guy, Executive Director. Claire joins BC’s Kevin Kaardal who is currently a Director At Large. I am also delighted to welcome two new board members from the Association of Nova Scotia Educational Administrators – Margo Tait, Executive Director and Gary Adams, President. Also new to the board is Deb Crawford, President, Ontario Catholic Supervisory Officers’ Association. We thank everyone past and present for their commitment to CASSA – your national voice for senior leaders!
We had a very successful conference in Halifax at which time we celebrated several outstanding leaders who were nominated by their provincial association. Congratulations to John Malloy, Director of the Toronto District School Board who we honoured as Canada’s outstanding school system leader for 2017. We will honour him again at the AASA National Conference in Nashville in February 2018. CASSA also bestowed an Honourary Life Membership Award to Barry Wowk who is a tireless advocate and CASSA supporter and has been with the association for sixteen years and has watched it grow to its current membership.
CASSA continues to be viewed as a key member of the national landscape as evidenced by our participation in the International Play Association Triennial Conference (Calgary - September) and our upcoming involvement in the Healthy School Communities National Forum (Ottawa - November) and the National Summit on Teacher and School Staff Wellbeing (Montreal – November). I sit on a policy subcommittee for the Canadian Public Health Association (https://www.cpha.ca) and contribute on behalf of the association. CASSA has also developed a strong relationship with the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (https://www.cmec.ca/en/) and the Canadian School Boards’ Association (http://cdnsba.org). Recently you should have received information about the upcoming debate about copyright matters (http://cdnsba.org/all/advocacy/copyright-matters)
As part of our strategic plan, CASSA is planning to extend our reach and participate as invited in other national conversations about matters related to student success.
SAVE the DATE – Supporting Each Student” – Ottawa July 4-6, 2018 at the Ottawa Westin Hotel.
Greetings and hope that the school year is moving along well! A few brief updates for everyone…
CASSA has a very strong partnership with AASA – The School Superintendents’ Association http://www.aasa.org . The new administration in the United States has brought some worries and uncertainties to the CEO role in publicly funded school districts across the US. The CASSA Board of Directors unanimously endorsed the following message to our American colleagues:
"We are writing today to offer our continued support to AASA and our American colleagues as you continue your advocacy for the students in publicly funded schools across the United States. CASSA believes that the role of school system administrators is essential to ensuring the success of all students. CASSA is also committed to the values of an inclusive publicly funded K-12 education system."
CASSA wholeheartedly affirms its support for the following AASA beliefs:
“Public education is the foundation of American democracy and is the primary vehicle for preparing each generation of adult citizens to become contributing members of a democratic society.”
“School leaders have a responsibility to create school cultures that recognize and value diversity.”
We value the strong relationship that AASA and CASSA has developed and nurtured over the years. Please know that we stand with you in affirming your advocacy for students in publicly funded schools.
I received a very grateful response from Dan Domenech, the Executive Director of AASA.
Recently, a number of Canadian school system leaders participated in the AASA National Conference on Education at which time both AASA and CASSA recognized and celebrated the XEROX EXL Award, Joan Carr, Superintendent from Edmonton Catholic.
I look forward to receiving the nominees for this year’s EXL Award from our provincial/territorial affiliates. The national recipient will be announced in Halifax at our annual conference and will be recognized next year at the AASA conference in Nashville.
Halifax 2017 – we are excited about the way that our conference is shaping up this year! We have secured two outstanding keynotes (Dr. Stan Kutcher and Dr. Kathryn Short). This year we will feature a pan Canadian panel addressing student mental health and well-being across the country and 30 workshops focusing on practices to support healthy students, schools and communities. Other highlights include…a guided tour of Pier 21…an optional tour of Halifax and its harbor…an optional tour to Peggy’s Cove…two hosted receptions and lots of Maritime hospitality!! Here is the website to take advantage of early bird registration, a Westjet discount code and hotel registration http://conference.cassa-acgcs.ca .
On behalf of the CASSA Board of Directors I am pleased to welcome Kevin Kaardal, Superintendent of Schools/CEO of the
Central Okanagan Public Schools, Kelowna, British Columbia to the CASSA Board as a Director-At-Large. The board is now comprised of at least one member from every province and territory and underscores CASSA’s as the national voice for school system leaders across Canada! We look forward to Kevin’s contributions to the national c0nversation.
CASSA leaders have been very busy, as we have been invited to participate in several national and international conferences and meetings. President Anne O’Brien and I joined school leader colleagues from across the globe at this year’s Ontario Principals’ Council Symposium on school leader wellbeing in Toronto. She and I also participated in the CEA Symposium on Indigenous Education in Vancouver. President-Elect Reg Klassen represented CASSA at the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation Education Roundtable in Calgary.
Our next commitment is to attend the AASA National Education Conference in support of our EXL Award recipient, Joan Carr as Canada’s Superintendent of the Year who will be honoured at the conference. We also attend in support of our American colleagues and our shared commitment to the value of publicly funded education.
Lastly, we are preparing for our own national conference in Halifax from July 5-7. The theme is “Healthy Schools, Healthy Communities, Healthy Future”. Keynotes and breakouts will focus on efforts to improve the wellbeing of students and communities. Watch your inbox for conference registration and an invitation to present. Currently, the travel page is live: http://conference.cassa-acgcs.ca/CASSA-hotel_travel.html
See you in Halifax!
I certainly hope that you are all off to a great start to the school year and that you had a restful and enjoyable summer!
CASSA has an outstanding conference in July in Winnipeg. The keynotes were fantastic – each with his/her own message of how to inspire leaders to ensure our students develop a strong sense of social justice, equity and social responsibility in our districts/divisions. We had over 30 breakout sessions from across the country representing some of the promising practices from classrooms, schools and systems. My thanks to all of the presenters who gave so generously of their time. Final thanks to Ken Klassen and the Manitoba Association of School Superintendents (MASS) for his and their support to ensure the conference was a success.
I want to begin by expressing my deep appreciation to CASSA President Cindy Finn who will conclude her two-year term this summer. Cindy has been an exceptional representative for the organization and was able to balance her duties as president with her role as Director of Student Services at Lester B. Pearson School Board in Montreal, Quebec. The role of CASSA president is a voluntary one and requires a time commitment that includes corresponding in a timely manner, writing for our professional publications and travel to conferences, meetings and symposia across Canada and the United States. At all times, Cindy’s commitment to the need for a national association of school system leaders was front and centre in her conversations and presentations. It has been an honour to get to know Cindy and to work alongside her in my role with CASSA. I look forward to her continuing to serve CASSA as past president.
I want to welcome Anne O’Brien as CASSA President. Anne is Director of Education for Durham Catholic District School Board in Oshawa Ontario. Anne too understands the importance of a national voice for education and I know will work tirelessly to ensure that CASSA remains as a strong and influential organization!
I am looking forward to working with Anne and know she will represent CASSA well.
Welcome to our newest member of the board, Darryl Bazylak. Darryl joins LEADS Executive Director, Bill Cooke, as our Saskatchewan members of the board.
Lastly, I want to express my appreciation to the members of the CASSA Board who also donate their time each month to the important work we do as leaders in education across the country.
The Winnipeg2016 Conference will be truly exceptional with four keynote speakers each of whom will address a different aspect of the theme of creating cultures of caring as we examine promising practices through nurturing social justice and social responsibility. We will also offer over 30 workshops from a variety of voices from Canada. Of note this year is a pre-conference workshop presented by Pearson Canada: When Mentoring Meets Coaching: Shifting the Stance in Education. This free workshop will be held on July 7 from 2-4 in the Gateway Room at The Fort Garry. Check out the conference website for registration and travel information (http://conference.cassa-acgcs.ca)
CASSA Examines Student Mental Health and Well-Being Across Canada
I am pleased to share that the CASSA Board of Directors recently had a very successful Winter Planning Session!
What made the meetings such a success?
We had excellent representation with topical presentations and updates from Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, English Language Schools in Quebec, New Brunswick, Yukon, Northwest Territories, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador.
We had exemplary presentations from Dr. Kathy Short and Dr. Bruce Ferguson. Dr. Short is the Director for School Mental Health ASSIST, a provincial team designed to help Ontario school boards to support student mental health and wellbeing. Dr. Short is a member of the national School-Based Mental Health and Substance Abuse Consortium, and led the Knowledge Translation and Exchange Team for this association of Canadian researchers and school mental health practitioners on a national project for the Mental Health Commission of Canada. Dr. Bruce Ferguson is a Senior Consultant and the founding Director of the Community Health Systems Resource Group at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids). We also had an excellent presentation from Karen Edgar, a practicing superintendent with the Thames valley District School Board in Ontario who spoke about her board’s student mental health and wellbeing journey.
The CASSA Board drafted some recommendations that will be released later in the term and the looks forward to continuing to support creating healthy communities across Canada!
Check the CASSA website for a list of mental health and well-being resources.
CASSA Participates in Education Conversations
CASSA continues to expand its reach and influence as we are share our Canadian perspective in national and international conferences and symposia. In the last year alone, CASSA has been a guest at the International Symposium on the Teaching Profession, at the Ontario Principals’ Council International Symposium on System Change through School Leadership, at the CEA National Conference on Dropping Out: What the Neurosciences Can Teach Us and at The North American Leaders Forum: Integrating Health & Social Programs within Education Systems. CASSA contributed to the white paper that will be published “Integrating Health Within the Core Mandates, Constraints & Concerns of Education Systems: Policies for Progress and Sustainability”. CASSA has also been pleased to support other conferences and initiatives including the Annual Summit on Education Technology Strategies (http://www.educationtechnologysummit.com), the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario Annual Conference (http://transitionseducation.ca) and Future Leaders in All Profession (http://www.fliap.com/index.html).
CASSA2016 Annual Conference
What better time to examine practices across Canada in the focus area of social justice and social responsibility. Join us in Winnipeg as we engage in discussions and presentations at the CASSA2016 National Conference “Hearts and Minds: Creating a Culture of Caring”. We are very much looking forward to our first confirmed keynote: Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish who has dedicated his life to peace efforts in the Middle East. Here is the link to his Tedx Waterloo video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZR-6x3gXYGs&feature=youtu.be)
Please continue to check our conference website (http://conference.cassa-acgcs.ca/index.html) as we build a program that promises to be engaging and thought provoking. The call for presenters will be sent out in early February. Please consider stepping forward to share the programs and practices across Canada that will lead us to a generation of socially responsible citizens!
CASSA at the AASA National Conference on Education
Lastly, CASSA President Cindy Finn and I look forward to representing CASSA at the AASA-The School Superintendents’ Association National Conference on Education. At that time we will celebrate Canada’s Superintendent of the Year, John Crocco who is the Director of Education at the Niagara Catholic District School Board. Our American colleagues will also acknowledge John for the exemplary leadership he has demonstrated in Niagara Catholic.
Welcome back to another school year!
EXL Award as Canada’s Superintendent of the Year
Congratulations to John Crocco, Director of Education for the Niagara Catholic District School Board as the EXL Award recipient for 2015! John will have the chance to take part in the AASA Superintendent of the Year ceremony in Phoenix in February 2016! Hopefully we will have a strong contingent of John’s friends and colleagues as he is honoured by our AASA partners!
CASSA Honours Robert T. Mills
After an outstanding career in school board leadership in Quebec and, in recognition of his many years of dedication to our national organization, CASSA bestowed an Honourary Life Membership to Bob. We must express our deepest gratitude for all Bob has done to ensure that CASSA is a strong organization and we wish him a wonderful retirement with wife, Lisa.
Changes on the CASSA Board
The new school year brings changes to the CASSA Board of Directors. CASSA welcomes two new Directors-At-Large: Penny Prysnuk from Yukon and Shelly Pepler from Nunavut. We also welcome back, albeit in a new role, Reg Klassen as a Director-At-Large. The new CASS member is John Waterhouse. The new ADGESBQ member is Howard Miller. The newest OCSOA representative is Loretta Notten. Loretta joins the board to replace Simone Oliver who was elected as the CASSA Eastern rep to AASA. We welcome our newest members and trust they will find the opportunity to gain a national perspective an excellent professional commitment.
Happy New Year!! Hopefully everyone was able to enjoy a change of pace and some wonderful time with family and friends over the holiday season.
The CASSA Board of Directors will be meeting in Toronto at the end of January to engage in strategic planning sessions and organizational meetings. Our plan is to “take the temperature” of our progress and fine-tune our goals and the ways in which we want to ensure the success of the organization. I will be reporting to you about the outcome of the meetings in future updates.
Please mark July 2-4, 2015 in your calendars as that is the time when CASSA will meet again to explore another topic of interest – S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math). Please continue to visit our website to learn more about this year’s conference at Le Westin, Montreal in beautiful Old Montreal (http://www.cassa-acgcs.ca/pages/cassa-acgcs/721145731331487106/Annual_Conference)
I am preparing to send out the call for presenters for our annual conference and hope that we get an impressive response from across the country!
Best wishes for continued success…and I look forward to seeing you all in Montreal
Wishing everyone a wonderful holiday season full of family, friends and a change of pace!
Please mark July 2-4, 2015 in your calendars as that is the time when CASSA will meet again to explore another topic of interest – S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math). Please continue to visit our website to learn more about this year’s conference at Le Westin, Montreal in beautiful Old Montreal:
Best wishes for continued success…and I look forward to seeing you all in Montreal.
I want to welcome everyone back and trust each of you found some time to relax and enjoy the different pace over the summer months! We had a very successful Summer Conference in Calgary and thank the Government of Alberta and our CASS members for their support of our conference! More about the 2015 conference later.
The AGM signaled a change to the membership of our Board of Directors. I thank Lee Ann Forsyth-Sells (Ontario/OCSOA) for her many years of dedication to CASSA and wish her well as she leaves the board. Congratulations to Cindy Finn (Quebec/AAESQ) who begins her two-year term as CASSA President and to Anne O’Brien (Ontario/OCSOA) who begins her term as President-Elect.
I also want to express my appreciation to Roger Nippard (Alberta/CASS) who moves to Past-President.
New to the board will be Simone Oliver (Ontario/OCSOA), Cindy Fleet (PEI), Greg Ingersoll (New Brunswick/NBSSA) and Karl Germann (Alberta/CASS). We welcome them and look forward to their contributions!
CASSA 2015 – July 2-4 in beautiful and historic Montreal!
Theme will be S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math)
Conference registration and hotel information will follow…keep checking the CASSA website.
I want to begin by welcoming the New Brunswick School Superintendents’ Association to CASSA. The CASSA Board looks forward to the many contributions we know we will receive from having the voice of new Brunswick school system leaders at our table!
I have recently retuned from meetings with my American colleagues. As always, my interactions with leaders beyond Canada provide a wonderful opportunity to heighten my understanding of the education sector in a broader context. There are a few states in which lawmakers are considering whether to allow adults to carry firearms on school property – certainly this is a very different issue than we have to consider in Canada! Another significant learning related to the push, in some states…not all…to introduce educational vouchers and charter schools. The concern, based on some limited experience is that these charter schools do not have an “open enrolment” approach and that some students are accepted and some are not. Lastly, there is a concern that money intended for publicly funded education will be redirected to charter schools, thus impacting the publicly funded school experience for its students. The concern was significantly higher in the United States than in Canada where the implementation of charter schools is much less common.
CASSA has been working with its partner, Blackboard Engage, to develop and introduce our very own mobile app. The app is available for mobile phones from both the iTunes Store and Google Play. This is our first foray into this aspect of technology and communication and other enhancements will occur as the technology allows! Also…check us out and follow us on Twitter @CASSAACGCS
I have received five nominations for the XEROX EXL Superintendent of the Year and look forward to announcing the national recipient at our conference in Calgary! The recipient will have the chance to take part in the AASA Superintendent of the Year ceremony in San Diego in February 2015!
See you in Calgary!
CASSA Executive Director
March 17, 2014
CASSA is a national organization whose only members are school system leaders!
I want to update CASSA members and other visitors to the CASSA website with some exciting news about the organization’s renewal! A great deal of time and considerable professional dialogue took place at our January Strategic Planning session in order to develop a purpose and mission that reflected the interests of members from across the county. At the March Board of Directors’ meeting, the CASSA Board approved a new mission and purpose:
Purpose: CASSA is the Canadian organization of school system leaders that promotes and supports quality education for the success of all students
Mission: CASSA strengthens the capacity of school system leaders and influences the directions that impact education and student learning.
These changes represent some of the renewal that is going on in CASSA and I look forward in the weeks and months ahead to let you know about other exciting developments!
Please consider attending our 2014 annual conference in Calgary. We are thrilled to have Canadian researcher and author, Dr. Doug Wilms, as our keynote speaker on the conference theme: Engaging Students – Making a Difference. We also have an outstanding line-up of workshops from system and school leaders from across the country! Go to our Conference 2014 page for program and registration details
CASSA Executive Director
March 4, 2014
I just returned from a wonderful experience at the AASA Conference in Nashville, Tennessee! CASSA is a very well thought of partner with superintendents in the United States. We have three CASSA executive members who play an important role in AASA – Barry Wowk (CASS) and Nick Milanetti (OCSOA) serve on the AASA Governing Board and Bob Mills (ADGESBQ) has the distinction of being the first Canadian to sit on the AASA Executive Committee. We are delighted with their contributions to AASA and to CASSA. We benefit from their experiences with our colleagues to the south as they share insights from their meetings. Personally, I am very warmly welcomed as I meet with state Executive Directors from across the USA. I learn a great deal from their experiences and appreciate the international perspective on our roles!
Another highlight for CASSA is the manner in which AASA embraces and celebrates the CASSA EXL Superintendent of the Year. This year’s recipient, Kim Jenkins (CASS) was acknowledged in Nashville and received all of the same tributes and recognition as any other recipient from any of the states. CASSA was pleased to host a reception for Kim while we were in Nashville and we appreciated the participation of some dedicated CASSA partners along with a number of CASSA members who made the trip to Nashville.
From the opening ceremonies to the closing speaker, Canadian Craig Kielburger, the AASA conference provided a wonderful opportunity for networking and professional growth!
Please mark your calendars now for next year’s AASA Conference – San Diego, California – February 25-28, 2015.
Lastly, I ask that each of you consider nominating someone for the CASSA EXL Award. It is an opportunity to celebrate the leadership of our members from across the country. Contact your provincial or territorial affiliate for information.
CASSA Executive Director
Happy New Year! I am pleased to update members with respect to two vital areas of CASSA's operations. First, you will notice the introduction of banner ads on our website pages. This revenue generating strategy is part of CASSA's overall need to ensure its short and long term goals. Secondly, the CASSA Board of Directors will be participating in our third Strategic Planning Session at the end of January. Previous sessions have resulted in improived communications, a revised constitution and a strategic operating plan. I will provide updates after our session in Toronto. Best wishes for a wonderful 2014!
CASSA Executive Director