My journey to the role of Superintendent started many years ago when I was a classroom teacher. Becoming a Catholic teacher was a dream because it allowed me to combine several of my passions – faith, children, learning, and literacy – into living out a vocation. Now, many years later those foundations are still integral to my work. I will focus on literacy for this blog.
This past week was Read-In Week. It is one of my favorite times of the year because I get to return to the classroom to be with students and to foster a love of reading. Literacy is fundamental for life. It is incredibly difficult for people who struggle with reading and writing to navigate our world which is so rooted in text. How can you apply for a job if you can’t read the application or write about yourself?
I am really proud of all of the amazing work that Edmonton Catholic Schools does in the realm of literacy for all ages. We haves strategies in place to identify and support struggling readers from a very young age, and our teachers across the District work on planning for literacy in their subject areas in order to build competency and confidence for all. As our language programs expand, our teachers implement best practices in literacy into learning the target language of their program.
We also have tremendous programs in place to help newcomers to Canada. Our junior and senior high school students benefit from our Newcomers Program, which the Edmonton Journal featured in an article earlier this year. Edmonton Catholic Schools also has one of the largest Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) programs in the city.
Our One World…One Centre (OWOC) is another outstanding example of the innovative work that we do in ensuring that everyone has access to the best possible literacy and learning opportunities. During the month of August, OWOC welcomed 273 students to Edmonton Catholic Schools. This included completing the registration documents with families and fulfilling the funding requirements for Alberta Education. In addition, assessments were completed on 247 of these students so that they would meet the ESL funding requirements. During the month of September, OWOC welcomed an additional 122 students and 97 assessments were completed. It makes all the difference to a student and to a school when that child arrives to class with their literacy needs already having been identified!
I am always excited to see where our journey to promoting literacy for all takes us. Our work in this area is so very empowering to our students, and we continue to be so innovative in this area.
One of the most loved authors of all time, Dr. Seuss, offered us what is, perhaps, the best explanation of why literacy is so important to us:
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.” (I Can Read With My Eyes Shut)