As the new school year begins, I want to welcome students, teachers and support staff back to school and ask that they work towards a successful year, keeping in mind that “our reason for being” is students.
As educators and support staff, we have been given the opportunity to work with students to help them learn and grow and to provide them with opportunities where both can happen. As the Minister of Education, I continue to be motivated by what is in the best interest of kids. That motivation is what helped me to be an efficient teacher and School Administrator and I know that it is the motivation that drives hundreds of teachers in this province to do the best they can every day in our classrooms.
I have spoken recently about changes to the school report card. I want to emphasize that effective communication between teachers and parents is critical to the success of our students and that communication should begin on the first day of school and finish on the last day of school.
Teachers understand their responsibilities to evaluate student performance, they also understand their responsibility to communicate the results of that performance to parents. But let us not forget that the report card is only one means of that communication. Parent teacher interviews, parent teacher conferences, parent teacher information sessions and other informal settings are great opportunities for parents to learn how their children are doing in school.
The relationship between a teacher and a student will have a great impact on the success of that student. The support from the parent for both the teacher and the student will enhance that success. Regular means of communication will allow both parents and teachers to fully understand the progress of each child and if there are concerns or challenges, the best means of resolving those, in the best interest of the child, is to have ongoing and immediate communication.
I am proud to be part of a Government that has identified education as a priority. The scope of the Department now includes birth to age 21. That is an expanded scope and I look forward to working with parents, teachers, other Government Departments and Agencies to focus on programming and supports that are in the best interest of all children.
One of our priorities is Early Intervention. With the youngest of our learners, we have invested in the Early Intervention Initiative which will focus on identifying and supporting students with special needs prior to entering public school. In many cases, this will allow students to be in a better state of readiness before they enter primary.
Another priority of our Government is to focus on math and literacy and to ensure that students have the skill set and knowledge base they need when they graduate, so they can be successful in whatever path they follow, whether it be employment, post secondary or other opportunities they may choose.
As a Government we recognize the importance of Skill Trades and have continued to expand the Options and Opportunities Program (O2), which allows students in senior high to choose courses that may lead to a career in the Skill Trades. Completion of the O2 Program in grades 10-12 guarantees the student a seat at the Nova Scotia Community College upon graduation. This is designed to give students a smooth transition from public school to post secondary (NSCC).
We have also invested in expanding the Skill Trades programs in our high schools. I recognize that there are many students who have an amplitude towards and a skill in the trades (mechanical, electrical, etc.). I also recognize that with the closure of Vocational Schools, students have been denied the opportunity to pursue that path. The Skill Trades Centres are designed to bring back that opportunity and our Government has expanded and will continue to expand Skill Trades Centres across the province.
As the Minister of Education I look forward to successful experiences and opportunities for all students and I encourage parents and the broader communities to support our teachers as they work daily with our sons and daughters to give them the best opportunities possible.
Karen Casey, MLA
Minister of Education