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Catholic Connections
By Kevin Kusch

Lloydminster Catholic School Division: our first year on a new model

06/10/2015

Lloydminster Catholic School Division implemented its Faith Integration Team (FIT) for the 2014-15 school year. This team is comprised of 13 school division staff members, and has been tasked to review structures and priorities around faith in the school division. The team has built in a sub-committee tier within its structure to better enable the FIT Team to conquer this enormous task. Members lead the five subcommittees (Youth Leadership, Retreats, Professional Development, Division and School Ethos, and Faith Programming and Resources) and engage additional school personnel to meet its mandate.

The premise of our work is to build a framework similar to that of the Catholic Education Commission of Victoria, Australia (http://web.cecv.catholic.edu.au/publications/leadership/wholebook.pdf). Within this framework, five leadership areas are outlined: Faith Community; Vision of the Whole School; Teaching and Learning; People and Resources; and Community. Within each area are specific statements that leaders ensure are followed in developing action plans to meet its mandate. Again, the goal is to continue to leadership capacity in faith and faith education.

The unique structure of this team lends itself to build a high level of capacity in the area of faith within the division. A move from having a perceived single “faith expert” to involving many leaders in our school division is paying dividends. In evaluating the progress of this year’s new model, reports have been quite positive. Staff are reporting that resources and faith opportunities have been maintained to a high level this year and the ability to have additional input into the direction and structures within the school division has led to more active involvement by more people.

One key to success this year has been the utilization of our school division’s Learning Resource Co-ordinator (LRC). She has been instrumental in being able to identify appropriate resources following the direction of the FIT team. The mix of media types, and providing suggestions that match the themes FIT has set out, has led to staff being better able to enhance instruction within their classrooms. We have also been able to use our LRC to identify gaps in our inventory.

A second key is the continued focus on professional development. Again, following our school division’s model of meeting people where they are in their profession, we have focused on varied professional development opportunities for personnel. These, for the most part, come from within. Our personnel lead sessions for other staff that are pertinent to individuals. This ensures we are meeting the needs of personnel and moving them forward in their work as Catholic educators. Being able to have lead personnel attend the Religious Educators Congress better enables our people to network with others and learn more about success in other locations. The FIT team is then able to take what was learned and build a plan to bring the learnings into our school division. Again, this allows our division to stay current and meet varying needs. It is wonderful to see the enthusiasm and ideas that are brought to the FIT table upon their return.

FIT has also moved to developing a resource bank for personnel to easily access. This move, again, is a result of staff providing the FIT team with a need that would support teachers in their instruction and faith development. Using a central storage drive, open to all to view, use and add to is another way of being more efficient with ideas and materials. We are continuing to work on this to add other teacher and student-friendly resources.

The Lloydminster Catholic School Division Faith Integration Team continues to look forward to the challenges and successes as it continues its work. With the successes we have seen in the inaugural year, we believe that our staff and students will continue to benefit from the work being done.

Kusch is superintendent of student services for the Lloydminster Catholic School Division.