SD73 new strategic plan a road map to a great local education

By Rhonda Kershaw

This is an important year for School District 73 as we embark on a new path set for us by our recently developed five-year strategic plan.

In 2016, the district’s board of education decided it was time to take a look at the priorities, objectives and goals we had set for ourselves. The world around us is continually changing in many ways and we realized that to keep education relevant, we need to change with it.

The provision of education services for more than 14,000 students across many communities requires careful co-ordination and deliberate action. As a result, the board created a committee of our stakeholders, including parents, teachers, support staff and other members of the community. We consulted this group on a wide range of topics.

Eighteen months later, after talking to more than 3,000 people, the results were compiled and a new contemporary strategy — a blueprint for great local education — was in our hands. Our new strategic plan has six key priorities:

1) We will ensure every student acquires strong foundational skills and core competencies. Students today face a more challenging world. We need to provide our graduates with strong skills in the basics, as well as in important 21st-century skills such as critical thinking and creativity.

2) We will connect students to their passions and interests. Exploring students’ interests, passions and career aspirations is at the heart of our new plan. We will connect students to their future dreams.

3) We will honour the First Peoples’ principles of learning and Aboriginal worldviews and perspectives. We are committed to ensuring Aboriginal students see their culture reflected in our schools and classrooms and that all students learn the history and the culture of the Secwepemc region.

4) We will foster an inclusive, adaptable and accountable district culture. It requires a cohesive team to deliver education efficiently across a school district as large and diverse as ours. Working together, with everyone knowing they have a place and role to serve, is the only way to ensure that we can deliver on the expectations of our communities and educational partners and provide an education that serves the needs of our youth.

5) We will strengthen partnerships to enrich the way we lead, learn and work. Partnerships forged within our communities enhance the quality of education. Engaged partners bring valuable perspectives and experiences to education, leading to more meaningful outcomes for all students.

6) Ensure the sustainable use of our resources. Responsible use of the district’s publicly funded resources is a high priority. We are committed to ensuring that we are responsible managers and caretakers of our infrastructure for the benefit of the public, the environment and the quality of the educational experience. Our schools are community assets and an investment in the future of our youth.

We’ve framed our five-year plan around a question and an answer — statements that perfectly define how our plan will affect students’ experiences in our schools.

We will ask our students, “Where do you want to go?” and we will have an answer for them as well — “We’ll get you there.”

This new vision for local education will guide decision-making through the next five years. We’re confident it will ensure students have the skills required to succeed.

It’s an exciting time for all of us and we’re looking forward to the challenge of guiding our education system in a new, more meaningful direction.

Rhonda Kershaw is the Kamloops-Thompson school district trustee for Barriere and area. She can be reached by email at rkershaw@sd73.bc.ca.