Establishing a tradition of excellence

By Jennifer Pawluk, Communications Specialist

A longstanding tradition of teaching and learning is professional development.

To students, a professional development day means a day without classes, which affords them more time to complete homework (that is, when they are not building up a Netflix queue). To parents, a professional development day means a day to find child care (or, perhaps, to take a personal day). To staff, a professional development day means a day to refocus on their outcomes and deliverables (and, of course, to grab a coffee with colleagues).

As a communicator, I often utilize the time allotted for professional development to research best practices in strategic communication. Through this research, I have furthered my understanding of storytelling, in turn, applying that to my work in communications at Balmoral Hall. As a communications specialist for an independent school, one of my responsibilities is to foster community relations, which is why I tell stories.

I believe that we have shaped a culture of storytelling here.

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Head Girl Anne Campbell ’17 (Photo courtesy of Terry Lee)

Essentially, a story is a vehicle to transfer emotions, informing us of what we value in ourselves, in others, and in the world — thus, enabling us to express our values. Success, to me, is establishing meaningful connections. Storytelling connects stakeholders to the things they care deeply about, which, in the case of Balmoral Hall, includes girls’ learning in science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM), university preparatory education, and community service.

As a storyteller, I must be prepared to answer the following question: How does Balmoral Hall inspire girls’ imagination and the courage to excel, to reach, to lead, and to care? Alone, I cannot answer that question directly. That is why I empower you to tell your stories in school communications. Organizational listening matters as we build community.

This school builds community unlike any other,” says Board of Governors Chair Nancy Cipryk ’86.

“Much has changed since I enrolled here in 1974, and a new strategic vision (2017–2020) promises further innovation. Some things, though, such as creativity, risk-taking, and collaboration, are constants. I hope you agree that these are what matter most.”

With those words, I concluded a presentation to 50 independent school leaders from coast to coast to coast earlier this month; I had been invited to facilitate a workshop on the topic of storytelling at Canadian Accredited Independent Schools (CAIS) National Leaders Conference, April 15–17, 2018, in Montréal.

This national recognition of our efforts to shape a culture of storytelling was a humbling experience, truly. Now, I am all-the-more grateful for the professional development opportunities I have had since 2013, when I started working at Balmoral Hall. I have never doubted their impact.

Furthermore, I am not the only one who appreciates their benefit. At Balmoral Hall, students, parents, and staff pursue excellence in teaching and learning. Together, we are better because of professional development.

With professional development, we are establishing a tradition of excellence — collectively, in thought leadership regarding education, advancement, and more.

On that note, I wish to recognize the following for their thought leadership in 2017/18.

  • Carissa (Nikkel) Balcaen ’02, who was honoured with the Willis S. McLeese award from Canadian Student Debating Foundation (2017).
  • Bryan Williams, who was presented with a Teaching Excellence Award by Province of Manitoba (2018).
  • Elizabeth LaPage and Kirstan Osborne, who contributed to an e-book entitled Manitoba Makers and Coders: A Snapshot of Maker and Coder Ideas in Manitoba in 2017.
  • Lois McGill and John Kerr, who contributed to How to Grade for Learning, written by Ken O’Connor for Corwin Publishing.
  • Geneviève Delaquis, who co-presented with John Davies at an independent school summit hosted by Canadian Council for Advancement (CCAE) of Education in Toronto (January 2018).
  • Jennifer McDonald, who presented at the national conference of Canadian Independent School Counsellors (CISC) in Vancouver and Victoria (April 2018).
  • Simone Penner, who will be presenting to Manitoba’s Reggio Inspired Coalition of Educators (RICE) on-campus at Balmoral Hall (May 2018).
  • John Kerr and Bryan Williams, who will be presenting at a conference and symposium with Canadian Assessment for Learning Network (CAfLN) in Dartmouth, N.S. (May 2018).
  • Rita Trautmann and Ketri Wilkes, who will be presenting at a global summit on girls’ education hosted by National Coalition of Girls’ Schools (NCGS) in Washington, D.C. (June 2018).

P.S. Balmoral Hall School curated the Kindergarten to Grade 12 summer reading lists for National Coalition of Girls’ Schools (NCGS) in 2018.

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