Regarding our CAIS Visit: Thank You and Congratulations GNS
Having spent time Sunday, November 20 on a call with Bill Jones, the leader of our CAIS Visiting Committee (VC), I can tell you that the GNS community did a wonderful job this past week showing CAIS what we do and how we do it. The VC was impressed with all the work the school did to make this visit truly effective. Thank you to everyone who took time to talk with members of the VC. Your openness, constructive critique offered and your affection for the school was noted and appreciated. The creation of the internal document that guided the VC during its visit was the work of all faculty and staff members. It received a great deal of praise from the committee. Leading up to the visit, this report was created with input and support from members of faculty, staff, committees, the Boards and the PAUX. I am proud to say that everyone involved took advantage of the process to create the internal document as an opportunity to enhance what we do and improve the school in many areas. Thank you all!
Special thanks to Mrs. Jean Bigelow and Mr. Jake Burnett for their highly capable leadership and 'can do' attitude in coordinating the assembly of the internal document and the enormous collection of accompanying evidence that clearly showed the VC how seriously the GNS team goes about its work. Ultimately, the internal report clearly showed how we all work together to enable each student to be prepared as outstanding young men or women of character who will contribute to the world through their leadership, their commitment to service and their understanding that we are all responsible for the future of our communities.
In a conference call with Rory Paul, the CAIS representative on our VC, Bill Jones, the VC Chair and Chris Denford, the Chair of the GNS Society Board, I was pleased to be informed that GNS will retain our accreditation. Of course, knowing how wonderful GNS is, I had expected no less. We all may celebrate this as a positive reflection of the work of everyone at GNS to make it a good school. Some of the key strengths of the school that were highlighted during the call included:
- Creating an environment where students generally seem happy, engaged and well cared for. A sense of belonging.
- Being a strong and caring place due to faculty and staff which is further enhanced by the engagement of our students and parents.
- The work we do supporting individual learner's needs recognizing that one size does not fit all.
- Our success in engaging students in opportunities to be leaders and encouraging them to take initiative and start activities.
- Providing extensive co-curricular offerings in all areas: academic, artistic, athletic and citizenship and realizing a high uptake in terms of student participation.
- Having strong governances processes in place to ensure good decision making and informed long term planning.
A Commitment to Ongoing Improvement:
One of the most powerful features of a CAIS accreditation is the manner in which it fuels ongoing improvement in a school. As part of this, we received verbal kudos from the visiting committee with regard to the areas of focus that have been identified by the management team and board and are currently being worked on. Some of the current efforts highlighted included:
- Continuing the good work underway to develop a seamless path through the three schools to better support the success and enjoyment of each student from Junior Kindergarten to Grade 12 and beyond in university, career and life.
- Persisting in the efforts to design and deliver our own highly refined GNS version of IB that is very beneficial and a great experience at all levels: PYP, MYP and DP for each student.
- Further developing the school's ability to execute our important plans to transform the Beach Drive and Pemberton Woods campuses.
Leading to a New Strategic Plan for GNS:
We will receive the full CAIS report in early 2017 and combine its recommendations with information gleaned from the GNS family surveys, the GNS faculty and staff surveys, various focus groups over the last year and a bit, exit interviews, and a scan of the local, national and global educational landscape to ensure we are well informed as we continue our professionally facilitated strategic planning process. We expect to have completed and shared the new plan by the spring of 2017. This will be followed by a carefully monitored implementation scheme. We will measure our progress annually to ensure we maintain all that is great about GNS, while continuing to develop the school to be even more capable of assisting each student to do his or her best and to enjoy university, career and life. Overall, we are committed to ensuring GNS continues to be even better.