By Jamie Rieger
It has been a few months since St. Michael’s school left the Medicine Hat Catholic School division and joined Holy Spirit Roman Catholic Separate School division and the transition has been a smooth, positive one for the students.
Principal, Chris Sumner who has been with the school for 18 months, said he has seen a more hands-on approach from central office.
“The plebiscite was on October, 2013 and due to legislation in the School Act, Holy Spirit could not get formally involved until Sept. 1, 2014,” said Sumner. “The biggest change for us was going from a site-based model that has more autonomy to a central-based model. The model is just different. Now, we see more hands-on from central office and we see Holy Spirit personnel on a regular basis.”
“It’s not that Medicine Hat was not supporting us, but Holy Spirit is more involved. Even when I was in Bonnyville, we knew about Holy Spirit. It is a highly progressive school division. It is highly progressive in terms of Holy Spirit redesigning their project-based learning to where teachers act more as facilitators and we are just getting involved with that now,” he added.
With the involvement from central office comes more challenges to stay on top of new projects and initiatives at the school, rather than let things go stagnant.
“With the division, there is a push to be kept up to speed. We have been challenged to get on board with the Holy Spirit vision and I think we have responded quite well. There is a boots-on-the-ground approach and it is not unusual for them to be here for support. Even the students recognize it in a friendly, supportive way,” said Sumner, adding that technology support is at St. Mike’s every Thursday to assist students, teachers, and staff.
The enrollment for preschool students has increased by 18 percent since the transition to Holy Spirit and Sumner said he would not be surprised to see an overall increase from 77 students to over 100 for the next school year.
“We are excited about that and I think the reasons for the increase is the transition, plus the new initiatives we have now,” he said.
Sumner also credits the people involved at St. Mike’s for making the transition a successful one.
“The community has been absolutely wonderful. We have great volunteers, great kids, and great parents. And, we get lots of support from the community,” he said.