Annual General Meeting
Tuesday, June 7, 2022
A few Comments from the Superintendent…
Recently at my church, I was listening to a sermon that was shaped around 1 Peter 1. Several verses really resonated especially as I considered them in the context of PCS.
Therefore, prepare your minds for action; discipline yourselves; set all your hope on the grace that Jesus Christ will bring you when he is revealed. Like obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires that you formerly had in ignorance. Instead, as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct; for it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:13-16
Peter speaks to the preparation of our minds for service. For a life that is both different and characterized by holiness and makes a difference. He goes on to declare that one of the key characteristics of this transformation is love for one another.
PCS’s mission statement declares that we seek to nurture “students in Christ-like living, critical thinking and joyful service to be faithful citizens in God’s world.” Like Peter, our mission speaks to the formation of our minds and of the result of the transformation. Many years ago, the school founders declared that PCS’s purpose was: “to attract parents who are willing and desirous to seek for their children an education which is directed by God’s all-powerful Word, and have these children trained to help them acquire and grow in a Christian world and life view.” More than 60 years later, these words remain our rallying cry as we seek to accomplish our calling.
In 2019 the then Board and Leadership team gathered to create a strategic plan for the next five years. That plan sought to keep an eye to our purpose as declared in places like our constitution and mission statement and to create a thoughtful, prayerful plan for the next five years of the PCS journey.
The plan created four strategic priorities and several implementation objectives for each. I’d like to share some of the work that’s being done on each of the priorities.
Pacific Christian School seeks to provide an exceptional learning experience founded in the best practices of transformative Christian education.
More than ½ of the time that has passed since the creation of the strategic plan has involved our mutual journey with COVID. Especially given this, I’m particularly pleased by the achievements that have been made in this area which is really at the core of our work as a school.
The first implementation priority of this priority was the creation of a “Graduate Profile”. The creation of such profiles typically starts with a couple of major questions:
- What are the hopes, aspirations, and dreams that our community have for our young people?
- What are the skills and habits of mind that our children need for success in this rapidly changing and complex world?
For PCS the answer to the first question was shaped by things like our mission and the work we had previously done on our Guiding Educational Principles – which sought to declare the characteristics of the kind of education we sought for our young people. The graduate profile – or student profile as it came to be known declared these things in terms of more specific expressions of what these things might look like. For example, under “transformative” we declared our hope that PCS students would:
- find their identity in Christ and know that they are beloved children of God and
- be biblically founded and spiritually equipped
Under “connected”, we declared our hope that PCS students would:
- be academically prepared and
- communicate clearly and respectfully
The profile was developed over the course of a couple of years with input from two of our town hall meetings as well as through both staff and board input before ultimately being approved by the board.
Another significant implementation priority identified in the Strategic Plan was professional development that prioritized our mission and our Guiding Educational Principles.
In collaboration with Nanaimo Christian School and the Society of Christian Schools in British Columbia we have been working with David Smith (Director of the Kuyers Institute for Christian Teaching and Learning) to create an educational experience for new PCS teachers entitled “Teaching Christianly”. This course seeks particularly to help new teachers (who largely come from secular teacher education programs) be prepared to teach more effectively in a Christian school. The course is now largely complete and we’re looking forward to our first cohort prior to next fall.
Pacific Christian School seeks to provide facilities that support our mission and vision.
This past summer we completed a major upgrade to the High School Library Learning Lab to make it a more flexible learning space. (Thanks to everyone who supported this effort through our Annual Giving Fund.) As well, we are finalizing plans for updates to the elementary school library which should be completed this summer.
Figure 4 High School Library Learning Lab
In addition to the obvious project work such as the Library Learning Lab, there has been the ongoing work of maintaining an aging facility (things like needed roof repairs to the elementary building).
As well, we are nearing the end of a multi-year process to create a new Campus Plan (CP) which we’ve been working with a local architectural firm to develop. Our hope is that the plan will be unveiled at the June Annual General Meeting. We’re hopeful that the CP will provide a foundation for the creation of a multi-year facilities plan that will help shape our facility priorities over the coming years.
Pacific Christian School seeks to create a model for financial sustainability that supports the school’s educational program and advances our mission.
One of the realities of independent schools in British Columbia is that they only receive partial funding from the provincial government. Tuition income accounts for about 50% of the school’s income. Our strategic plan identified the increase of non-tuition revenue as a priority. This summer we’re glad to see the return of the Saanich English Language Summer Academy (SELSA) as a major tenant during the summer. As well, we’re targeting additional rentals in anticipation of the greater flexibility afforded by the lifting of various Covid related restrictions.
Our Finance Committee is also working on developing an investment strategy so we can maximize the income from our capital reserves (in past these have largely been placed solely in GICs).
Finally, we are looking at following up on two successful Annual Giving campaigns (that allowed for the improvements to the HS Library Lab and the Elementary library) with a new campaign during 2022-23 (the project is in the process of being finalized as I write this).
Pacific Christian School seeks to create a community characterized by the presence of Shalom. That is a place where students, staff and others flourish as they are active participants in God’s story.
Our final priority (and it is definitely one of those ‘last but not least’ items) is our people. By this we mean the students, staff and families who call PCS home.
We continue to prioritise the treatment of our staff. Teachers at PCS on average earn about 89% of their public-school counterparts. Depending on a teacher’s experience, this can be as low as 86%. We continue to prioritize reducing this gap for teachers and all staff.
Recently, we went through the process of hiring a new Director of Learning and Formation (replacing the former Director of Learning position). It was clear from the start that the position needed to prioritise journeying with our staff to continue to equip them to better (because things can always improve) fulfil our mission; but it was also clear that the position needed to prioritise supporting people in the challenging work of the day to day. Not someone to add another task; but someone to help with. In April we were excited to announce the appointment of Owen Webb as our new Director of Learning and Formation. Owen comes to PCS from Hamilton District Christian High School where he was Dean of Students.
At all levels we continue to prioritize the question of how to prioritize student relationships with Jesus and their understanding of their unique place and calling in God’s story which is seen in our emphasis on missionally driven professional development and the reframing of the Director of Learning position.
Despite the challenges of the present, PCS continues to be guided by its original purpose and our core mission to nurture “students in Christ-like living, critical thinking and joyful service to be faithful citizens in God’s world.” I’m so proud of the way our community has journeyed. I would like to extend my thanks to staff, students, families and others. We couldn’t do this work without you.