Missed the AGM? Here is what was said...

In 2016 the BC Supreme Court finally settled a dispute between the provincial government and BC Teacher’s Federation.  The court ruled that the province was obliged to meet the negotiated class size requirements from a 2002 negotiated settlement between the teacher’s union and the government. This decision sparked a massive increase in government spending on education and a mad scramble for qualified people to fill new positions.  While the government has no one but itself to blame, there have been multiple problems as a result that negatively impacted students across the province.

Now that the government needed thousands of more teachers in virtually the blink of an eye, there were not enough teachers to fill the vacancies.  To fill the void, teacher who previously couldn’t get hired now found themselves in the catbird seat.  Jobs were plentiful and labourers were few, so almost any eligible teacher could get permanent, full-time positions. 

Catholic schools do not have a teacher’s union so we were not directly impacted by the court decision, but we too feel the teacher shortage.  New teacher’s coming out of university now had quicker and easier access to jobs in any school district they wanted.  Public schools, having more of a foothold in the universities, were snapping up candidates before they would even think to apply in Catholic schools.  There are currently 60 open positions posted on the CISVA website.

Why am I telling you all of this?  It is not to bemoan the lack of quality teachers.  Quite to the contrary, Cloverdale Catholic School is a story of victory against all odds.  It is a story of God providing for his people when they remain faithful to him.  This year we say goodbye to some of the best teachers I have ever known.  Despite the number and quality of those leaving, we have been blessed with an abundance of quality teachers coming in to take their places.

This year we say good-bye to one of the best Kindergarten teachers ever in Miss Dacruz.  Miss DaCruz’s not only made the students feel loved and special, but she had a keen eye for spotting areas of need and helping struggling students.  Miss Dacruz worked here for over 9 years.  She’s not gone, however, as we will see later…

In February we said good-bye to Miss Barbboza.  Vivacious and bold, Miss Barboza left us to become a Religious Sister in the Sisters of Our Lady of the Trinity in Seattle. 

We also said good-bye to Mrs. Sene.  Knowing her zeal for Christ and penchant to “telling it like it is” I literally tracked Mrs. Sene down in the jungles of Cambodia where she worked as a missionary.  With Mr. Pistrin’s help she was convinced to come here (not go home to Terrace) where she could change the hearts of the students at CCS.  That is exactly what she did for three years.

This year we say good-bye to Sister Mary Bethany.  When Father Mark Bautista and I convinced Mother Superior of the Sisters of St. Cecilia to send us a Sister, we didn’t know which one we would get.  Regardless of who it was, I expected a safe, conservative, sweet and demur sister.  What we got was Sister Mary Bethany.  Every one of Sister’s students knows that they are precious in God’s eyes and her eyes.  Sister changed the hearts of not only her students, but of many of her students’ parents as well.  There are several of you in the audience today, myself included, who owe your renewed faith at least in part to Sister Mary Bethany.  Sadly, after 8 years, Sister is moving closer to home in Coquitlam to more fully live the community life with her sisters.

This year we say good-bye to Mrs. Geraldine Olaybal.  Geraldine and I have been classmates and coworkers since we started in Grade One together 36 years ago.  Geraldine has transformed our Learning Resource Department.  She has created an environment where students of all abilities and needs are supported, included, and loved.  After 8 years at CCS, Mrs. Olaybal will be missed.

Finally we say good-bye to Mr. Tony Walters.  For 19 years Mr. Walters has been a cornerstone of Cloverdale Catholic School.  He has inspired as a teacher, a mentor, a collegue, and as a friend.  Tony’s deep devotion to his faith, his family, and his profession are an inspiration to me.  Though I have served as his Principal for the past 9 years, I will admit now that I have looked up to him for even longer than that.  Mr. Walters is moving on to help start a new high school in South Surrey, St. John Paull II Academy.

So taking into account what I said at the beginning about the teacher shortage and having 4 high quality teachers leaving our school, how does our school recover from such losses?  Surely, there must be compromises made to fill all the empty spots…

Not so, says I!  One thing I have made clear to the staff, PEC, and anyone who will listen is that we will never hire anyone who doesn’t help us succeed in our mission of educating students for now and for eternity.  That means that every staff member we bring on board is more than just a certified teacher, they a professed disciple of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  They are a person who I would trust with not just the mind, but also the heart, of my own child.  This is the recipe for success at CCS.

This year we have already hired 3 extremely high quality candidates for next year.  I’d like to take a moment to introduce them to you.

First is Miss Nikki Mendoza.  Nikki has been hired to teach our Gr. ½ combined class next year.  Nikki has been teaching third grade at St. Patrick’s School in Maple Ridge for the past year.  There she earned a reputation for being a hard working, loving, and faith filled teacher.  Previously, Nikki was the president of Catholic Christian Outreach at Simon Fraser University, a volunteer for Verbum Dei Missionary Fraternity in San Francisco, and a volunteer for three years in Surrey’s Urban Mission Society.  Nikki has a loving heart and will be a welcomed addition to our school.  By the way, Sister HIGHLY approves of Nikki taking her place in her classroom.  She’s a big fan.

Secondly we hired Mr. Royston Grosjean.  Royston is completing his practicum teaching Grade Six right now and will be taking over our Grade Six class next year.  Royston is an alumni of Cloverdale Catholic school.  Before becoming a teacher, Royston was an Admissions Advisor for Catholic Pacific College, President of the Trinity Western University Student Association, volunteer coach for Cloverdale Minor Baseball, Youth Group Leader, and PREP teacher.  Royston’s passion for evangelization and the Catholic Intellectual Tradition are evident from the first moment you meet him.

we have hired Mrs. Agnes Krammer.  Agnes has spent the past 25 years as a teacher at St. James School in Abbotsford.  Agnes has had a variety of roles at St. James including Music Teacher, Kindergarten Teacher, Learning Resource Teacher, and most recently, Grade Six teacher.  Agnes has an excellent reputation across the CISVA for her role as a Special Education teacher.  Like Royston, Agnes is also an alumni of CCS, though I think there were a few years in between their graduating classes.  Agnes absolutely loves the Church, Catholic Schools, and Cloverdale Catholic School.  Her experience fills the big hole left behind by the departure of Mr. Walters.

So as you can see, the teacher shortage we keep hearing about is not having a negative impact at CCS.  By staying true to our mission, vision, and values, we have been able to attract the very best teachers out there.  While no one can truly replace those who are leaving, it is a sign of a healthy school that people can come and go while a healthy culture is maintained.

By staying true to our mission, vision, and values we have also been able to attract the most students in the history of CCS.  Our current enrollment for next year is 311.  This is the highest we have ever had and there is still room to grow in our Kindergarten classes.

By staying true to our mission, vision, and values we have been able to maintain the highest calibre of education.  According to the latest Fraser Institute Rankings based on the Foundations Skills Assessment, CCS had it’s best year ever, scoring an 8.9 out of 10, good for 57th overall in the Province.  I don’t put too much stock in those rankings, but it is nice to receive outside affirmation of what we have known all along; CCS is doing an amazing job of educating our young people.

So things are looking good and getting better, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have room to improve.  We have several areas for growth that we are focussing on next year including: 1) Integrating the Social Justice Teachings of the Church into the entire curriculum, 2) Improving our knowledge and understanding of First Nations and incorporating the First Peoples Principles of Learning into the curriculum 3) Continuing to develop a strategic and thorough Reading “Scope and Sequence” to improve reading instruction 4) Improving our delivery of the Applied Design, Science, and Technology Curriculum and 5) Helping students with anxiety, building resilience, and improving social behaviour.


Safety and other reminders…

Morning Drop-Off Zone-  I have taken to monitoring the drop-off zone in the mornings quite often lately and I have seen improvement in this area.  Please remember to be patient, drivers stay in the driver’s seat, and children always exit on the right hand side.  Please pull forward as far as possible to help with the flow of traffic.

After school pickup- After school is a very busy time for me so it has been more difficult to get out there in time to stop people from parking in front of the gates.  That is a fire lane and should not be blocked at any time.  Please do not park there.

Parking- speaking of parking, please be patient and kind in the parking lot.  Let people in if they are trying to pull out of a spot, drive slowly at all times, and don’t swerve to avoid speed bumps.

Communication- I believe our school is strong because of the healthy relationships between staff , students, and parents.  As a reminder, if you have a concern/question/complaint please speak first directly to the person involved.  This is true in all of life, but it is really helpful in a school community to make sure we are honest and transparent at all times.  Going to a third person to voice our complaints, known as triangulating, but also often known as gossiping, doesn’t help us solve our problems or grow as a community.  If you have a problem with another parent, speak to them directly.  If you have a problem with something in the classroom, go directly to the teacher.  Triangulating, gossiping, over “going over the heads” of each other only serves to divide the community.

Lates- Far too many students are late for school each day.  Please arrive to school on time.  Wake up earlier if you have to, but our office staff shouldn’t have to hand out 20 – 30 late slips per day.  I don’t want to give consequences to students for being late when it is usually parents who are responsible for getting to school on time.

Late Pick Up- I thought this was getting better but it was really just the weather.  Pickup after school is at 3pm, 2:30pm on Wednesdays.  While we do have supervision after school for an extra 20 minutes, that is to help in case you are late, not to provide 20 minutes of childcare.  Several families who are chronically late picking up their kids will be required to re-register for after school care.

Uniforms- Compliance with the school unform policy is improving.  There are still instances of students wearing uniform pieces from places other than Top Marks.  Please be sure all uniform pieces are purchased through Top Marks, our approved uniform supplier.

Going away on vacation?  If you are planning on missing more a few days please send a letter to the office so we know.  Otherwise, Mrs. Jangula will call your home everyday to check on your child’s whereabouts.  Please have the courtesy to let her and your child’s teacher know.

Volunteering-  Maintaining an 11 acre property is a monumental task.  Those of you who have been around longer than I may remember Bart Zashley and Mitch Clancy taking care of the field.  More recently John Murphy did a great deal of the work.  Now we have two Dad’s, Brad Call and Rob Currie who do the mowing.  There always eems to be one or two who are willing to take on those jobs, but we need more, way more.  I know we are all busy but we need more people like Brad and Rob who step up to get jobs done.  If you or your spouse can do so, please consider helping more with maintenance of our grounds.  This work can be done anytime and Brad has volunteered to give an orientation to anyone interested in helping out.