One great thing about Twitter is how it forces you to distill your thoughts into 140 characters. So, my first tweet as Director of Education at Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board summed up my feelings with:

“Excited, honoured and privileged to begin serving the great community of Hamilton as the HWDSB Director of Education.”

The words resonate as I get ready for my first day of school as HWDSB’s director. Like the 50,000 students preparing to return to our schools, I too will be making my lunch, packing my bag and heading out the door full of nerves and excitement.

Fall is a special time in education. Educators’ lives revolve around the school year, and September 8 is a bit like our New Year’s Day. We take stock of the past, we look ahead, we strive to do things better than the year before.

At HWDSB, one way we’ve been taking stock is through our Reimagine initiative. With a new Board of Trustees and director, we set out to ask our community: how have we done and what can we improve?

With focus groups, surveys and community meetings, we collected feedback from hundreds of parents, staff and community members. The feedback was not always easy to hear.

We heard that we need to address some key issues in the areas of culture, communication, partnerships and resources as we develop a new vision for HWDSB by December.

Specifically, we need to ensure senior administration continues to support the system in collaborative ways. We also need to continue to create a culture that encourages our staff, welcomes our parents and demonstrates our transparency to the entire community.

As a new school year arrives, these are becoming our resolutions.

We take this feedback to heart because we want to exceed your expectations as a public school board that helps all students achieve their full potential but we realize we must do it in partnership with students, staff, parents, guardians and our Hamilton community.

As for me, with my first day of school approaching, I am full of questions.

What will be my first day of school outfit? What kind of sandwich do I want to pack? Who will I sit beside on my first day? Will I make some new friends? What will I learn? Will I be accepted by others? What questions will be asked of me?

But one thing I already know is this: I am deeply honoured to be the new Director of Education and to have an opportunity to make a positive change in the lives of the students across HWDSB.

AuthorLorenzo Somma