CANMORE – After nearly three years of being impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Canadian Rockies Public Schools (CRPS) is looking ahead to the 2023 calendar year.
CRPS superintendent Chris MacPhee said there is a lot on the table for the coming year.
“One of the major focuses in the new year is to address the learning losses that accumulated during the pandemic,” he said.
In the new year, the hope is the energy from the start of the school year – the first regular school year since the pandemic – will continue.
“We noticed an energy level in our schools that still we can feel today when you walk in the building,” MacPhee said. “It was phenomenal. At the start of the school year in September, the schools were vibrant.”
The literacy and numeracy skills among students in grades one to three will continue to be a major focus for CRPS. To that end, three learning specialists were hired to assist teachers with direct classroom support in the division.
“They would be reading specialists at those levels,” MacPhee said. “Our teachers are also engaged in professional learning around reading instruction and the science of reading.”
CRPS is also hiring a speech and language pathologist, something uncommon in most schools in Alberta.
“Those positions are difficult to find and it is very rare that a school division has one on staff,” MacPhee said. “We are excited that we will have one of those on staff to assist our students.”
The funds for the speech and language pathologist will be coming from the Wim and Nancy Pauw Foundation following CRPS receiving $730,000 from the Banff-based not-for-profit.
The district will continue its efforts to expand the courses available to students in 2023.
“We have a plethora of authentic learning opportunities and courses that continue to be introduced,” MacPhee said.
The Future’s Planning Initiative will continue in 2023. The program makes students’ future ready by bringing in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics), STEM (Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), environmental stewardship and hands-on, real-world programs to high school students.
The programs already in place are synthetic biology, environmental sustainability, makerspaces, cosmetology and applied design, skills and technology.
“We have a new cosmetology lab at Canmore Collegiate,” MacPhee said. “We are launching second semester cosmetology where we will offer to students, hair design, cosmetics, all of those pieces.”
In the near future, culinary arts will be added and in the summer of 2023, the food rooms of Banff Community High School will be renovated so industry-grade food service production can be conducted there as part of the teaching environment.
“Their home economics room didn’t have an industrial grade food kitchen for teaching courses,” MacPhee said. “We are bringing that facility up to standards with regards to being able to offer culinary arts and services courses.”
Canmore Collegiate’s theatre is undergoing a major renovation that should be completed this spring. The space is being overhauled and everything from new flooring, seating, lighting and audio-visual system will be installed. There will also be an LED wall in the theatre.
“This is a total rehaul of the space,” MacPhee said. “It is our goal to be ready to hold any type of event similar to the Banff Centre. It is anywhere from a $700,000 to a $1 million renovation. Next week, they are taking the seats out.”
Making Learning, an initiative to leverage the use of social media to showcase learning activities is a new communication initiative that is planned to be introduced in 2023.
“We want to ensure our teachers have all the skills they need to implement the new curriculum,” MacPhee said. “It is not a challenge, but something we have to be aware of moving forward.”