Come August 1st, there will be a new person at the helm of Horizon School Division.
A press conference was held late last week in Lethbridge in which the board of trustees announced Dr. Cheryl Gilmore has been appointed as the new superintendent of schools and CEO for Lethbridge School District No. 51 effective in August.
"The board looks forward with great excitement to working with Dr. Gilmore,” said Chair Mich Forster, in a press release. “Cheryl comes to Lethbridge School District with a strong commitment to student engagement and community collaboration, allowing the district to continue to provide quality learning opportunities for all our students.”
Gilmore has been dedicated to education and learning for almost 30 years. Starting her teaching career at Standoff Elementary School, Gilmore subsequently taught at Cardston High School followed by W. R. Myers High School in Taber. After seven years as a school administrator, Gilmore was appointed deputy superintendent of Horizon School Division.
In 2006, she was selected as superintendent of Horizon School Division where she has served since then. It is her time in rural school divisions which Gilmore reflects fondly on.
“My fondest memories are associated with my time in the classroom and the people I have had the good fortune of working with. Like other teachers, I feel inspired every time I meet a former student who has grown up to be happy and successful,” said Gilmore. “There is nothing more important than having an influence on children realizing their dreams. It is their dreams that will build our future and take care of our world.”
Given the unique challenges rural schools face compared to their urban brethren, Gilmore noted Horizon strived to be on the front line for new initiatives.
“Rural school divisions need to think out of the box to ensure students have access to a breadth of quality programs. For example, the development of Career and Technology Studies boxes that travel to rural schools, Music Boxes, and video-conferencing,” said Gilmore.
“I never fail to be proud of the high standards our schools establish with excellent teaching and committed staff. A strong culture of doing whatever it takes to meet the needs of students has been established.”
As Gilmore looks to new horizons in Lethbridge as her work with Horizon School Division winds down in the summer, the superintendent is proud of the work done by the Horizon Transformation Committee in developing a mission and vision that will guide the school division to meet th needs of the current-day student.
“We have identified key priorities that I believe will provide the foundation for student success. The key priorities include a focus on learning competencies including ways of thinking (critical thinking, problem solving, creative thinking), expression of thinking (literacy, numeracy, and communication), and tools for thinking (technologically fluent and bank of knowledge),” said Gilmore. “I have also enjoyed working with a board that believes in building community capacity and connecting with community to provide direction and insight. It is also a board that supports innovation and finding ways to keep schools viable.”
That viability has included a number of initiatives like the Warner Hockey School and the Vauxhall Academy of Baseball. Part of the legacy Gilmore leaves behind as well, is being par tof a school division that has made a big push towards getitng buy in to education for Low German-speaking Mennonites.
“When I worked with Chamberlain School and Vauxhall Elementary School, my first year as deputy superintendent was to launch our first dual-tract programs that reflected the conservative culture,” said Gilmore. “The board supported the risk of trying something different to compel school attendance. Since that time we have had excellent support from schools and our Mennonite Liaison, George Epp, and the number of Mennonite students receiving an education has grown to be close to 800 students.”
As Gilmore makes the transition to Lethbridge School District No. 51, she wil do so knowing the nurturing roots she has recieved in her time boht as educator and administrator for Horizon School Division.
“The people in Horizon have been good to me. I have mentioned that there is a culture of commitment. There is also a culture of support, collaboration, and good humour,” said Gilmre. “I anticipate that moving to an urban school system will take some adjustment. There are more layers at the district level. The goal there will be to make sure that the layers align and serve the priorities of the district. There are more staff, more students, and more programs, but the focus remains the same - serving the needs of students and looking at ways that we can do things better for them.”