Building six new school communities is a unique opportunity for Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools
In a year that Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools has opened six new schools—something unprecedented for any single school division in our province—it is easy to find meaning in this year's theme for Education Week: Building our future by learning together.
Our schools are among the 18 built on nine joint-use sites across the province under the Government of Saskatchewan's P3 building project. The massive undertaking was a four-year process from start to finish, with construction taking two years.
In Saskatoon, we opened St. Lorenzo Ruiz (Hampton Village), St. Kateri Tekakwitha (Stonebridge), St. Thérèse of Lisieux (Rosewood) and St. Nicholas (Evergreen). Holy Trinity and École Holy Mary are the first Catholic schools in the cities of Warman and Martensville, respectively.
The construction of these schools is an obvious dimension of "build," and they are indeed impressive buildings. The inviting schools are spacious and well-lit, incorporating flexible learning spaces that encourage creativity and collaboration among students and teachers.
As exciting as it is to have these places of learning, they are but shells unless we consider the implied, more purposeful aspects of "build": create, develop, foster, and encourage.
We will create communities of learning in which all are welcome. Just as Jesus, our model teacher, welcomed children with open arms (cf. Matthew 19:14), we work to make all students and families feel like they belong in our schools. Being new communities, students, families and staff at these six schools have the unique opportunity to help create a culture based on Gospel values.
Professional, dedicated educators will help students realize and develop their unique God-given gifts. Academic excellence is pursued while taking a holistic approach to education, helping students reach their full potential academically, physically, socially, emotionally and spiritually.
Our faith is at the heart of understanding who we are and our place in the world.
Throughout the day, in all we do, we foster a greater understanding of this by building relationships, both with Christ the Saviour and with each other. This way, students learn they are part of broader, interconnected communities.
As a division and as individual school communities, we are fortunate to have many working relationships with community partners. Saskatoon Tribal Council and Central Urban Métis Federation Inc. further our work with Indigenous learners; the Saskatoon Health Region helps keep minds and bodies healthy; the University of Saskatchewan, it's various colleges, and our sister school divisions work with us to advance education as a sector; and we have countless local relationships and partnerships that add a vibrancy to our school communities that we simply couldn't achieve on our own.
With this realization, we encourage students to be active members of their community and make a difference. Whether it's their school community, neighbourhood, or the broader global community, small acts of service done with love can transform the world.
And we will do this all together—students, families and caregivers, teachers and staff, and our broader community—to build a bright future for students and for Catholic education in and around Saskatoon.
This article was originally written for and appeared in the StarPhoenix's Education Week insert.