By Justin Seward
Prairie Rose School Division (PRSD’s) new superintendent Roger Clarke has only been on the job for two weeks and after various meetings he is optimistic that this upcoming school year will be one of learning and further enhancing education strategies.
“The people I have met have been fantastic,” said Clarke.
“The staff here in the central office have been extremely helpful. They’re caring individuals who work hard for not only the organization but for the students that we serve. I’m just learning the schools and where they are and those sorts of things. I’ve started to branch out to visit those schools.”
Clarke came to PRSD from the Fort Vermilion School District where he was in the same capacity for 12 years and what he has learned so far is that PRSD students perform academically.
Despite not knowing the school leaders very well, the outcome has been positive and once he familiarizes himself with them he will become more knowledgeable of school’s context and what their needs are.
He is planning to get engaged in the programming side of the schools as time goes on because it allow for more genuine motivational learning opportunities for students.
“As I learn and I talk with principals, I found that there are some pretty intriguing things that are already happening in some of our schools which are fantastic,” said Clarke.
“It just goes to show the progressive mindset of many of the people that are already working in these schools as leaders as well as teachers and support staff.”
It is still too early to compare PRSD and his last school divisions but he had noted there are more schools in the district. and the same rural challenges involving declining enrollment still present itself.
“I think that’s where Prairie Rose sits, we have a stable population,” he said.
“There’s no drastic ups or downs but there is a few less than there might have been five years ago. When you don’t have growing number enrollment number because of living in rural Alberta then that has impacts on you financially.”
His expectations for the school year with depend on what direction his trustees want to go in and he will listen to their input on what effort should go in to what areas, while the first part of the year will be getting to know the new board.
Additionally, the immediate action will be to monitor the enrollment numbers in the early part of September to see if there are any groups that are bigger than they need to be.
In the first half of the year he plans to have parent consultations through school councils and staff within the school division about what PRSD needs to be focusing on in terms of student needs.
“That helps us organize with respect to our priorities and right now Prairie Rose has two fantastic priorities in the area of wellness and literacy,” said Clarke.
“I want to understand those and the strategies that are currently playing out and being focused on, and to ascertain as to whether those strategies are hitting the mark and making a difference for student learning.”
During the school year he would like to students engaged more in the classroom as well as in the broader community by the means of clubs and student councils.