I once worked with an employee who in the midst of a change initiative uttered in great despair, “why change, things around here are bad enough already!” At first blush, the contradiction within this statement seemed strange —or somewhat funny. However, a statement like this is real for many, and speaks to the impact of change on people. Therefore, an important reflection for a leader about being confronted with this kind of perspective is, how can this belief come to the forefront?
If the old adage is true that ‘there is no such thing as the status-quo,” change needs to be embraced and understood within a productive perspective. However, the best of leadership theory reminds us that “change” is not a constant. Rather, it is a variable that must always be in play and at the forefront of decisions, because it is always at service to the constant within an organization — its Mission.
Jesus was the greatest change agent of all time who temporarily suffered greatly for his efforts. Moreover, Christians would agree that all of Christ’s efforts to change the world were necessary. Why? Because the world he was living in demonstrated in many ways and for many different reasons, that the commandment of loving one’s neighbor was not being realized.
This helps to explain why change happens in our district — why leaders change in school communities, why we attempt to do things differently, and planning priorities are updated. In short, the resourcing that we have, complemented with the evolving needs of 6000 students, requires that we adapt practices so that the outcome of our mission statement can be achieved — enabling each of our 6000 students to “learn, live, fully, and serve others.”
In the spirit of this reality, and as we begin our last month of the school year, I extend my great appreciation to our school administration for working with us to support new placement opportunities so that the achievement of our mission can always be optimal. Thank you to all employees for being responsive to new challenges in the workplace while finding ways to make your professional contributions rewarding, which has resulted in our District being named for the third consecutive year as an exemplar of workplace engagement by the Gallup organization.
From where I work, two senior leaders in our system will be retiring who have very quietly, yet meaningfully contributed over many years to make a real difference for students and families within our district. At the end of this school year, Carol Bruineman, our Communication Manager will be concluding an excellent term of service to our District. Her efforts have been significant in guiding the strategic efforts of our messaging to the public. Such work and especially her efforts to coordinate our 150th Anniversary, recent Boundary Review, and Visual Identity Update resulted in two national awards of distinction for communications excellence. Our Secretary-Treasurer, Deb Schlag, who will also be retiring at the conclusion of this school year after 26 years of service, had significant impact at the local and provincial levels of school district business and finance. Recently, Deb was recognized by her provincial peers for an award of excellence provided by the Association of School Business Officials of Alberta (ASBOA). On a very basic but important level, I have relied heavily on Deb’s belief and practice that we find ways to maximize resourcing to the classroom so that every student in our care can be a success story. Thank you, Carol and Deb, for your excellent service to everyone in our district. We will miss you.
When mission is a constant, as one’s efforts to make it happen ends, another person becomes ready to make it happen in meaningful ways. Such is the selfless nature of true servant leadership. We are truly blessed that change continues to be a dear friend and valued resource for Greater St. Albert Catholic Schools.