Thanks for 2019
December 17, 2019

I recently received a letter from a couple of parents regarding a school bus driver who has gone out of his way over the years to provide a warm, welcoming, and fun environment for their children. They point out that a bus ride can be an intimidating experience for children, particularly for those who deal with anxiety. They took the time to write because of the positive impact this man has on all the children he has interacted with, year after year, without any recognition or desire for same. 

There are so many of our custodians, bus drivers, secretaries, student assistants, teachers, and teaching and learning assistants like this gentleman who are going above and beyond, day-in and day-out, mostly unrecognized, throughout our more than 250 schools. Similarly, there are many education staff and support staff in our regional offices, depots, and headquarters who are dedicated to providing the very best for our students and those who care for them. 

As CEO/Director of Education for the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District, I take this opportunity, as we close out 2019, to say how proud I am to work with such caring and committed professionals. I thank each and every one of you for doing what you do to support learning and personal development in positive spaces in which our students can thrive.

All the best this holiday season and for the New Year.

A Time to Celebrate and Remember
June 26, 2019

Here we are again in the last week of a school year. There is a comforting regularity to it. We start fresh and new in September, with eager anticipation of the year to come. We don’t always achieve all of our goals, but we move steadily forward, overcoming setbacks and obstacles, and ultimately coming out at the end of June better for the experience. That applies not only to students, but also to teachers and to all the administrative and support staff who keep the school system moving onwards and upwards. 

Schools on the last day are incredibly euphoric places to be. And with good reason. That well-deserved opportunity to relax and recharge is just within reach. That eager anticipation of starting anew some 10 months ago is easily replaced by the unbridled joy and anticipation of a summer break. There is much to celebrate! Congratulations to all our graduating Grade 12 students and to our retirees. Know that we value the time you have spent with us, and your collective contribution to your own growth and that of others you have positively influenced.

June is also PRIDE month; lots to celebrate here too! We didn’t always get it right in education for the 2SLGBTQ community, but I believe strongly that our schools and our District have played a catalytic role in fostering inclusion and acceptance, not only in our education system but in broader society. There is still work to be done, but we are in a better place than we were last year and the year before that. I am so very proud of our students, teachers, administrators, and District staff that remain resolute in championing what is right and just in our society.

The month of June also provides us the opportunity to honour National Indigenous Peoples Day, observed on Friday, June 21. This was a day for all of us to recognize and celebrate the unique heritage, diverse cultures, and outstanding contributions of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples. I thank all of our indigenous students and employees for enriching our schools and for sharing your cultural practices with us all.


As we move into our summer break on this Canada Day weekend, let us also take the opportunity to honour the memory of some early defenders of the ideals of democracy. Their sacrifice paved the way so that you and I can enjoy the privilege of living in a more just society than those of years gone by. This Monday, Newfoundland and Labrador will also observe Memorial Day, a day when we will take the morning to remember the ultimate price paid by our soldiers, sailors and airmen and airwomen during the First World War. It is commemorated on July 1 of course because it is the anniversary of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment’s action at Beaumont Hamel, which saw such a terrible toll taken on our native sons. 

There is a great deal to celebrate. I want to thank each and every employee of the District for putting students first in all of your individual and collective efforts throughout the year - most of them unheralded moments, but collectively so important to helping our students achieve success. 

Have a safe and enjoyable summer everyone! 

"...We Make a Life by What We Give"
April 11, 2019

It’s Volunteer Week in Newfoundland and Labrador.

In an educational environment, we are hard-pressed to go through the day without having it touched in some way by a person who is giving of themselves -  their time, their effort, their talent, or their expertise. The K-12 public education system in Newfoundland and Labrador is undoubtedly one of the largest recipients of volunteer value, with parents, grandparents, friends, family, and community members helping to enhance the programs and services offered throughout our schools. This includes those who volunteer for the breakfast programs, lunch programs, as well as all the co-curricular and extracurricular activities that help our students develop academically, socially, and as citizens who will grow to conduct their lives with integrity and respect for others. To each of you, I take this opportunity to thank you on behalf of every student whose day you have enhanced, and for every school your efforts have helped.

For volunteers, this value is not a one-way street. The people I have encountered handing out breakfasts to students; helping our teachers supervise field trips, or coaching a school team, tell me this every day. For those who have first-hand knowledge, to give of yourself and your experience to benefit others is more rewarding than anything you could pull from your wallet or pantry. Because the value is reciprocal. Yes, you may give of your valuable time and effort, but what you get back just can’t be measured. In many instances, the educators and staff in our schools are leading by example by volunteering in their community. I know many of our students follow this example by donating their time and energy to support worthwhile projects close to home as well as nationally and internationally. It’s about learning to be part of a community - whether that be large or small. It’s about caring for others. It’s about citizenship, one of the six core competencies of deep learning.

Volunteerism is very much a part of the Newfoundland and Labrador English School Board’s day-to-day existence. The District is guided by a volunteer, elected Board of Trustees; 17 diverse and unique individuals who volunteer a great deal of time to providing oversight and guidance to all aspects of our organization. We thank them for their commitment to students and to the betterment of education in our province.

Take to heart a quote, sometimes attributed to Winston Churchill, although its origin is not authenticated:  "We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give."

I encourage everyone to take time this week to thank those around you who selflessly give of themselves to benefit others. I’m sure it would do them good to hear it.

A Time to Reflect on the Values We Share
February 15, 2019

We are midway through February and while Mother Nature continues to hurl adverse winter weather our way, the days are getting slightly longer and we dare to hope that spring will one day come.

February is also a busy time for the education system, and a time to reflect on some of the important values we share. February 8-15 was Teacher-Staff Appreciation Week in Canada. In this province, we joined with the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of School Councils (which spearheads the event in this province each year) and the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development to acknowledge the contributions of all District staff who support the education of children. That includes staff in our regional offices who keep the back office functions moving; senior management, program specialists, administrative support, administrators, teachers, guidance counsellors, teaching and learning assistants, school secretaries, student assistants, maintenance personnel, bus drivers and more. I take this opportunity to sincerely thank our employees for their commitment and dedication to our students, and for the countless times they go above and beyond to meet their needs, and enable them to succeed in a safe and inclusive learning environment. While there are always challenges to address and overcome, we will continue to focus on “students first” and do everything within our ability and authority to enrich our students’ educational experience.

February will also see schools throughout the District celebrating Pink Shirt Day on February 27. It is a time for schools and the District to reiterate and reinforce the message that we will not tolerate bullying and harassment in our schools - whether that be verbal, physical, via technology, or in any way whatsoever. We have made great strides in this area and, supported through Provincial Government policy and legislation, I believe we are getting closer to educating students, and creating school environments, where acceptance and inclusion are just part of our everyday reality. There will be exceptions and negative incidents - but maintaining a strong, consistent approach to unacceptable behaviours is critical to addressing these issues.

We are also preparing to join the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers’ Association in celebrating Education Week (March 3-9), which is a time to highlight the many exciting and innovative things that are happening in our schools, led by some of the most highly-educated teachers in the country. I look forward to seeing how individual schools choose to highlight and celebrate their successes that week.

On a final note, we sometimes forget how fortunate we are to live in a society that supports and values public education for all children. It is easy to take that access for granted. So I encourage parents, guardians and students to recognize the enormous privilege we have to live in a part of the world where K-12 education is a fundamental right. I also encourage students to exercise that right every day, by attending classes and participating fully in their own learning experience.

Tony Stack
CEO/Director of Education

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St. John's, NL · A1B 1R6
Tel: (709) 758-2372 · Fax: (709) 758-2706
95 Elizabeth Avenue
St. John's, NL · Canada · A1B 1R6
Tel: (709) 758-2372 · Fax: (709) 758-2706

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