A new voice takes over as the top school official in the region, but the message as it pertains to COVID-19 remains the same.
Trish Smillie enters the School District No. 8 family as the new superintendent of schools/chief executive officer, taking the reins during a still difficult time as pandemic protocols and restrictions — and the threat of a fourth wave — continue to swirl.
It’s a time when orders from upper levels of government dictate life around the classroom and likely will continue, she said.
“In this area, we align our direction to the Provincial Health Officer and the Ministry of Education’s guidelines,” she said.
“I know parents are curious how this school year will unfold. As soon as we receive information from the Ministry of Education, we will be advising our staff, students, and families.”
There are challenges that lie ahead, she admitted, with many questioning school start-up this year. Those questions should be answered later this month as the Ministry of Education and Public Health will be introducing new health and safety guidelines supporting a return to school.
But the pandemic pandemonium hasn’t dampened the spirit of the 20-year educator as she gets up to speed with SD8 staff across the region.
She has been impressed with the openness and professionalism of SD8 staff so far as they prepare for school start up.
“SD8 is known for focusing on student success,” she said. “The board of education supports professional learning to enable staff to provide the best possible learning experiences for students.”
Charting the course
Smillie said she will not be planning to alter the course of education and administration already charted in SD8.
“As far as specific changes go, I would like to learn from our educational partners and members of the school community about what is working well and areas that could be improved upon,” she explained.
“I would like to ensure that all members of the learning community have a voice in building quality public education in SD8.”
Toward that end, Smillie said she has always been an advocate for “equitable and inclusive rural education through the development of relevant and engaging learning opportunities that entitle learners to be successful.”
It’s a mouthful, but the end game is that students receive the highest quality education and are able to graduate with the marks and courses they need to further their education and career goals.
Trish Smillie is an experienced systems-level leader with secondary and elementary expertise in both school and district-level leadership positions in Indigenous, rural, and urban settings.
With a unique and culturally diverse perspective, she leads through a compassionate, ethical, and learner-centred vision that focuses on equity, student success and reconciliation.
Prior to moving to SD8, Smillie served as an assistant superintendent, director of instruction, principal, vice principal and teacher for students from kindergarten to Grade 12 in school districts in BC, Yukon and Nunavut.
Source: Submitted by Trish Smillie
Timothy Schafer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Nelson Daily