Welcome back!

There’s nothing like the first week back at school! As I see students head off to class, their new backpacks over their shoulders, there’s an excitement in the air that I see at no other time of the year. 

Our teachers have been hard at work already – setting up their classrooms, putting the final touches on their lesson plans, and organizing a thousand big and little details to set up our students for success. 

Whether you’re a teacher, student, parent, school leader or locally-elected school board trustee, you are the reason Alberta is blessed to have a world-class education system. Working together to support our students, your voices and your efforts matter. You make a world of difference. 

And we in the Public School Boards’ Association of Alberta also work hard to make a difference – for our students, our families and our communities who have elected us to represent them.  

Sometimes, I’m asked what we in PSBAA do that is different from other provincial school board associations and school boards. What is it that we do that is different, and how are public school boards unique?

I would answer that question by talking about how our fantastic public schools are unique, and the most important quality is this: regardless of ability, background or aptitude, Alberta’s public schools are the only ones that unconditionally welcome and accept all students. We do not restrict students on the basis of religion or language, and we are open, inclusive and safe for all. 

Public schools do not receive any additional or special funding to meet the educational needs of all K-12 learners, and this fact means we sometimes face unique and challenging budget issues, whether it’s having enough money to address complex student needs in the classroom, larger class size or language barriers when English is not a student’s first language. 

Yet our teachers and school leaders consider it an immense privilege and responsibility to educate our leaders of tomorrow – and it’s a responsibility they take very seriously. That’s why “back to school” for them starts in early August, why they’ve already taken professional development training before the beginning of the school year, and why – in many cases – they have invested their own personal dollars into classroom resources yet again this year, to ensure their students have the materials they need to excel. 

I am so proud of everyone who works so hard to make our public school system the leader it is. And we need you – parents, educators, community leaders and school board trustees – to share with us your hopes, concerns, ideas and suggestions to make our public school system even better. Please connect with us – the information is under our “Contact Us” tab on each of our web pages to email or call us – and let us know what you think. 

We know funding dollars are going to be tight this year and, more than ever, we need to be creative and innovative. I know we can do that, and I can’t wait to see what we will accomplish together!

To all of you, my very best wishes for a wonderful and successful school year ahead.