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2020 VIRTUAL Start Right Program for Beginning School Leaders

General Information

General Resources and Presentation Materials

Start Right 2020 Program at a Glance
Teaching Quality Standard
Leadership Quality Standard
Superintendent Leadership Quality Standard
LQS: Alberta Teachers Association  Self Reflection Tool
Fort McMurray Public LQS Professional Growth Plan
Holy Spirit Adaptation of CASS Practice Profile for School Authority System Leaders
Group Activity – Colleen’s First Staff Meeting
Start Right 2020 Notes from Kayla Colbert

The College of Alberta School Superintendents’ (CASS) 22nd annual Start Right course for newly appointed school principals, assistant/vice-principals and aspiring leaders.

The registration fee is $499.00 (includes GST). Registration is limited to 100 participants.


8:30 a.m. – Welcome and Team Building
9:00 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. – Session
11:45 a.m. – Session Evaluation

Program Features

The Start Right course is designed to bring participants together as a leadership learning community with a focus on providing opportunities for:

  • Exploring and experiencing the Leadership Quality Standard competencies;
  • Reflecting, sharing ideas and building on school leadership experiences and best practices;
  • Gaining new ideas and resources through engaging presentations and interactive learning activities facilitated by educational leaders with a wealth of school and school system experience;
  • Meaningfully addressing issues and challenges encountered by school leaders and developing practical strategies for action;
  • Networking with colleagues from other school jurisdictions;
  • Establishing through participation in cohorts a forum for building relationships, learning with and from each other, and an opportunity for continuing to offer support and assistance as an extension of the workshop learning experience;
  • Extending the learning experience through university graduate coursework, if desired;
  • Enhancing a personal understanding and approach to educational leadership and practice profile;
  • Further developing a vision for successful school leadership; and
  • Providing practical support for the 2020-2021 school year through email advice and articles.

Arrangements can be made through Alberta universities to extend the Start Right 2020 learning experience for graduate level course credit.  Participants will be required to pay a tuition fee to the university and to meet additional course requirements. Information regarding university credit for Start Right 2020 participants is available at the University Graduate Coursework tab. Individuals who are interested in receiving more information in regarding university course credit may contact Colleen Symyrozum-Watt at 587 879-7026 or symwatt.colleen@gmail.com.

Day 1

Thursday, July 2
9:00 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.

Empowering School Leaders and Inspiring Change in Indigenous Education and Reconciliation
Presenters: Melissa Purcell and Elizabeth Gouthro

How are you inspiring and supporting your school community to engage in Indigenous education and authentically contribute towards reconciliation? Learn how to continue to shift perspectives on how we view and meaningfully engage in Indigenous education within your school community.

Throughout this session we will explore successful strategies, effective resources and connect with colleagues to learn promising practices related to:

  • Effective relationships with students, staff, family and community
  • Leading and learning Indigenous education and reconciliation within your school community

Melissa Purcell, a Dene and a member of Smith’s Landing First Nation in Treaty 8 territory. She is an Executive Staff Officer, Professional Development, Indigenous Education with the Alberta Teachers’ Association and continues to lead Walking Together: Education for Reconciliation within the Association. She has experience teaching in Alberta band, charter and public schools. At the district level with Edmonton Public Schools she held the positions of teacher consultant, program coordinator and supervisor of First Nations, Métis and Inuit education.

Resources and Presentation Materials


Day 1 – Welcome
Day 1 – Presentation
Day 1 – Handout version for note-taking
Day 1 – Chat Transcript
Elder Protocol Stepping Stone Resource

You can email Melissa Purcell if you wish to reach the ATA’s Indigenous Advisory Circle.

Elizabeth Gouthro is currently a director, of Leadership Learning with the College of Alberta School Superintendents (CASS). Her major area of responsibility is in the area of Indigenous education and supporting the implementation of the Alberta professional practice standards. https://www.alberta.ca/professional-practice-standards-overview.aspx

Prior to joining CASS, in April of 2016, Elizabeth was an educator with the Calgary Board of Education (CBE) for over forty years in a variety of school and system leadership roles. Elizabeth has also been actively involved in her professional organizations, at the local and provincial level for both the Alberta Teachers Association (ATA) and CASS.

Elizabeth’s academic credentials include Doctoral Studies – Educational Leadership and a Master of Education, Human Resources and Organizational Behavior from the University of Calgary; a Bachelor of Education Degree in Secondary Education, Math and Science from Acadia University; and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology and English, St. Francis Xavier University.

She was the proud 2015 recipient of the national Indspire Guiding the Journey Indigenous Educator Award. In 2017, Elizabeth was honoured to receive the Blackfoot name Saa’koiy kakatoosi (last star).

Day 2

Friday, July 3
9:00 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.

The Science of Well-Being
Presenters: Brian Andjelic and Dana Fulwiler

So, you want to be a school administrator? The College of Alberta School Superintendents applauds your desire to be directly involved in school leadership. We would like to provide you with a few tools to help you enjoy a full and satisfying formal leadership career. It’s a marathon rather than a sprint!

Fewer and fewer teachers are aspiring to leadership positions. Frankly, it’s tough work. Your role is to support students, staff, parents, community and government, when often there are competing priorities. A number of studies highlight the stress that school administrators face each day in today’s complex contexts. Some amount of stress is indeed normal and can be motivating. However, pervasive stress is not healthy, detracts from important work and leads to burnout. Rates of burnout in the first four years of school leadership positions are much too high. This is especially critical as it takes up to seven years to have the impact we dream of when first getting into this career.

Well-being and resilience are becoming increasingly prioritized in education as research and lived experiences emphasize their impact on teaching, learning and leading. School leaders face unique challenges in maintaining balance and well-being, and they also have an opportunity to create environments in which well-being is valued and modeled. In this interactive session we will explore research-based tools to help build school leaders’ capacity and confidence in well-being and resilience, through the lens of their unique realities and opportunities.

You will engage in content from the science of individual and organizational well-being and learn how to enhance psychological capital in yourself and your school teams. You will develop a language to safely construct meaningful conversations about well-being with staff and students. Together you will apply these practices to realistic school scenarios, illustrating opportunities to transfer this new knowledge to your schools right away this fall. Research-based tools + action + practice = well-being and resilience habits that build capacity, competence and confidence to support you in a healthy, long and impactful career.

This session does apply to all of the Leadership Quality Standards; school leaders must be well in order to meet the competencies as indicated by the standard.

As a result, you will learn:

  1. What is positive psychology and how can I apply this for your my well-being and that of the staff and students at my school?
  2. How can I apply resilience practices for myself, staff, students and teams?
  3. How can I apply positive psychology practices as a school leader to realistic school scenarios?

Resources and Presentation Materials


Day 2 – Welcome
Wellness Resource Toolkit Padlet
Day 2 – Chat Transcript

If you would like a copy of the presentation, please email Brian Andjelic with the email address provided above.

Brian Andjelic is a CASS Director of Leadership Learning for Wellness. He has extensive experience in mental health and wellbeing, with an expertise in an understanding of positive mental health and comprehensive school health. During his time as Superintendent of Prairie Rose School Division, he designed and implemented a holistic model of wellness based on the science of positive psychology. Since retiring as a superintendent in 2017, Brian has spent much of his time working with organizations, using the language of psychological capital to link wellness and leadership for individuals, teams, organizations and communities. This includes how to create safe conversations for those struggling with mental well-being and those trying to help.

Brian has completed a Master’s degree in Education Administration/Leadership at San Diego State University. Much of his work now includes helping create safe and specific conversations related to mental well-being and leadership.

Dana Fulwiler is a Provincial Projects Coordinator with Ever Active Schools. She has experience in positive mental health and comprehensive school health (CSH) across public education, non-profit and post-secondary. After teaching health and psychology at the junior and senior high level for 13 years, she earned her Master of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) from the University of Pennsylvania, where she learned from the founder of positive psychology and now serves as an Assistant Instructor. Dana also applies her expertise as a CSH and Wellness Sessional Instructor in the BEd program at the UofC. Through MAPP and her Master of Education, Dana has learned from leading researchers and psychologists and explored best practices for supporting educator and student well-being. Dana is committed to leveraging the science of well-being and resilience to help individuals and organizations thrive.

Day 3

Monday, July 6
9:00 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.

How to lead Inclusive Education  in Your School
Presenters: Elizabeth Gouthro, Loriann Salmon and Dr. Dianne McConnell

This session will support school based leaders to learn  how to implement effective practices in alignment with the Leadership Quality Standard. This session will guide school leaders to engage in professional learning and critical reflection in reference to their practice standard as to build and sustain inclusive learning environments to optimize learning for ALL students. This session will focus on opportunities to consider how to actualize a responsive continuum of supports and services for ALL students through a focus on collaboration and school based relationships, instructional leadership, and assurance.

Loriann Salmon is the Learning Services – Director of Inclusive Learning at Foothills School Division. Loriann has supported inclusive learning in FSD at the K-12 level as an administrator and learning coach. She has a Bachelor Degree in Psychology and a Bachelor Degree in Education from the University of Saskatchewan. Loriann holds a Masters degree in Leadership and School Administration from Gonzaga University.

Foothills School Division has a continuum of supports and services that ensures the success of all learners. The Director of Inclusive Learning works with school administration, parents,  teachers, learning coaches and other professionals to ensure that students have appropriate supports to meet  their learning, behavioural and social emotional needs. The role involves supporting all schools in the division as part of an inclusive system that values, supports and celebrates the unique gifts and abilities of all students.

Dr. Dianne McConnell re-joined Parkland School Division in 2013 in the role of Associate Superintendent. She had teaching stops at various PSD schools early on in her educational journey.

As a registered psychologist and educator, Dr. McConnell brings over 30 years of broad experience as a lifelong educational leader and a strong commitment to student success to the Associate Superintendent role. In recent senior management positions with Alberta Education, Dianne played an instrumental leadership role in effecting systemic education change through both Action on Inclusion and Early Childhood Development strategies on behalf of government. In her work with Alberta Education, Dr. McConnell also served as project lead for Setting the Direction, a transformational initiative that developed the provincial framework for an inclusive education system in 2010. Dianne has served as a national board member of CNIB. Her family has strong roots in Parkland School Division, as her boys grew up in PSD and thrived in community schools. Her husband Roy is a former PSD Principal and is currently the Manager of Inclusive Learning Resources & Supports for Vision Education Alberta.

Resources and Presentation Materials


Please have a digital notebook or a pen/paper handy for reflection and note taking.

Day 3 – Welcome Video
Leading for Inclusion Padlet

Pre-reading required:
Leading for Inclusion Professional Learning Module Participant Guide

  • What the Research Says About Change (pages 14-17)
  • A.5 Historical Timeline – The Journey to Inclusion (pages 18-20)

Continuum of Supports (note taking)
Day 3 – Presentation
Day 3 – Chat Transcript

Elizabeth Gouthro is currently a director, of Leadership Learning with the College of Alberta School Superintendents (CASS). Her major area of responsibility is in the area of Indigenous education and supporting the implementation of the Alberta professional practice standards. https://www.alberta.ca/professional-practice-standards-overview.aspx

Prior to joining CASS, in April of 2016, Elizabeth was an educator with the Calgary Board of Education (CBE) for over forty years in a variety of school and system leadership roles. Elizabeth has also been actively involved in her professional organizations, at the local and provincial level for both the Alberta Teachers Association (ATA) and CASS.

Elizabeth’s academic credentials include Doctoral Studies – Educational Leadership and a Master of Education, Human Resources and Organizational Behavior from the University of Calgary; a Bachelor of Education Degree in Secondary Education, Math and Science from Acadia University; and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology and English, St. Francis Xavier University.

She was the proud 2015 recipient of the national Indspire Guiding the Journey Indigenous Educator Award. In 2017, Elizabeth was honoured to receive the Blackfoot name Saa’koiy kakatoosi (last star).

Day 4

Tuesday, July 7
9:00 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.

Seeing the BIG Picture-Leading Upward and Outward
Presenters: Ray Hoppins and Dr. Jody Dennis

Leadership Competency #9: Understanding and Responding to the Larger Societal Context suggests that if the principal is to be an effective leader, he/she must understand the “Big Picture” – i.e. how systems, both internal and external, interact. How does a leader advocate for his/her school and diverse community needs while responding to political, economic and legal realities/contexts, conditions? How does a school leader manage the occasionally competing interests of school and community with the expectations of the jurisdiction or provincial ministry of education? How does the principal balance time and energy in his/her role as instructional and educational leader with that of facilitator, manager, advocate?

Many experienced leaders have remarked that this leadership competency often presented the biggest challenges as they assumed the principalship, and that this competency was the one for which they were least prepared. This session will focus on understanding and responding to such contexts and examples of the dilemma’s that principals face in their leadership roles. Participants will be presented with actual case studies that beginning and experienced principals have faced and will be asked to work together to first identify and understand the systems at play and secondly, to respond in an effective manner. Participants will also gain a perspective of the expectations of system leaders for principals and the principal for system leaders.

In preparation for this session, participants should be familiar with Competency 9 of the LQS and its descriptors and be prepared to share “Big Picture” examples of their own.

Resources and Presentation Materials


Day 4 – Welcome
Day 4 – Presentation Handout version for note taking
Day 4 – Presentation Live links to the resources

Dr. Jody Dennis is honored to have spent the past 30+ years in education. She has had the opportunity to be an educator as a Pre-K – grade 9 teacher, vice-principal, and principal. Presently, she is the Division Principal for Chinook’s Edge School Division, and was previously the principal at Penhold Elementary School and Poplar Ridge School in Chinook’s Edge. She has a Master of Education degree in Leadership and School Improvement from the University of Alberta and a Doctorate in Education in Senior Leadership in K-12 Education from the University of Calgary. Jody has had the opportunity to be involved with the Literacy Steering Committee and the Learning Commons Visioning Committee for Chinook’s Edge School Division. She has a passion for Instructional Leadership and enjoys working alongside teachers to improve teaching and learning. Jody resides in Red Deer and enjoys spending time with her husband, Wade, and her two boys. This is the 7th consecutive year that Jody will be presenting at the Start Right short course.

Ray Hoppins has spent the last 29 years as a teacher, vice-principal, principal, and central office leader in Vegreville, Innisfail, Sundre, and Olds. Ray has a Master of Education degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Calgary and is currently an Associate Superintendent with Chinook’s Edge School Division. His teaching and leadership experiences transcend all grade levels from pre-kindergarten to grade 12. Ray served on the executive of the CESD School Administrators’ Association for many years and has played leadership roles on local and provincial committees in the areas of communication, mathematics, assessment for learning, program evaluation, and teacher supervision & evaluation. He has facilitated ATA and CASS professional development sessions for teachers and administrators on topics such as educational technology and school-based leadership. As a teacher, he served as a Pure Math 30 marker and item-writer for Alberta Education, as well as a math consultant for Central Alberta Regional Consortium. Ray is active in his community and enjoys playing and coaching a variety of sports. He was raised on a family farm in Central Alberta and currently resides in Olds with his wife Sandi. They have two children in post-secondary studies and two children in high school. Ray has also presented at the Start Right Short Course for the last 14 years.

Day 5

Wednesday, July 8
9:00 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.

Creating Safe and Caring Schools
Presenter: Dr. Scott Morrison

Thoughtful administrators engage in routine activities every day to help ensure their schools are safe and caring. Scott will share some principles from both personal experience and research that empower administrators to create a safe and caring culture in a very intentional way. Scott’s focus will be on how the administrative team can create and promote a safe and caring culture by managing attention and by managing meaning.

Participants will learn practical strategies and systems than can be applied on a daily basis to create more safe and caring schools.

Resources and Presentation Materials


Day 5 – Welcome
Day 5 – Presentation

Day 5 – Chat Transcript
DAY 5 – My Most Important Takeaway is…

Dr. Scott Morrison is the Superintendent of Christ the Redeemer (CTR) Catholic Schools, serving approximately 10,000 students in Okotoks, High River, Brooks, Strathmore, Canmore, Drumheller, and Oyen. Scott has been an educator for over 30 years, also serving in roles as a secondary classroom teacher, an elementary school principal, a high school principal, a division principal, and an associate superintendent. Scott also serves as an instructor in educational psychology at St. Mary’s University, and a LQS and SLQS instructor for St. Mary’s University and the University of Calgary respectively. Scott has a B.Ed. from the University of Lethbridge, an MA from Gonzaga University, and an Ed.D. from Taft University. Scott has presented dozens of professional development workshops on the topics of academic achievement, creating safe and caring schools, organizational storytelling, classroom management, and educational leadership. This is the 15th consecutive year that Scott will be presenting at Start Right.

Day 6

Thursday, July 9
9:00 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.

Teaching Quality Standard and Teacher Growth, Supervision, and Evaluation- What Leaders Need to Know
Presenter: Dr. Konsctancija (Konni) deGoeji

In Alberta, teachers are expected to meet the Teaching Quality Standard (TQS), which is a Ministerial Order. Quality teaching occurs when the teacher’s ongoing analysis of the context, and the teacher’s decisions about which pedagogical knowledge and abilities to apply result in optimum learning by students. Principals are expected to provide ongoing supervision and evaluation of teachers on the basis of the TQS, Further, certification in Alberta is also based on the TQS. This session takes a look at the TQS and TGSE Provincial Policy to help school leaders better understand the expectations to be met by teachers and what their role is within the LQS framework and provincial policy.

Resources and Presentation Materials


Day 6 - Welcome

Alberta Education - TGSE policy
Claim evidence notes
Doctrine of Fairness
Planning for Staff Supervision
Robinson - Open to Learning Conversations
TGSE Flowchart
Video on Teacher Observation and Note Taking
DAY 6 - My Most Important Takeaway is...
Day 6 - Chat Transcript

Dr. Konni deGoeij has worked as schoolteacher, school based

administrator, teacher educator, researcher, and policy advisor in Alberta. Being an administrator and

teacher in schools from K – 12 in four different school divisions has allowed her the opportunity to work with a variety of teachers, administrators and division personnel. In addition, she is a certified mediator and published author. Konni joined the Alberta Teachers’ Association as an executive staff officer in the Member Services program area in 2004 and in 2006 became the Associate Coordinator Member Services, Administrator Assistance with a responsibility for professional learning and support for Alberta’s school leaders. Her doctoral focus was on relationships of trust in school settings and how these are related to important outcomes such as teacher behavior and student outcomes. Her presentations help school and district leaders to develop effective and intentional leadership practices in learning communities, where leaders feel comfortable with taking risks to bring out the best in the teachers in their schools and districts.

Day 7

Friday, July 10
9:00 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.

Surviving & Thriving in a New Role
Presenters: Kurt Sacher and Marcie Perdue

This session will help participants become fully aware of the new complexities they will face as a new school based administrator. The presenter will use storytelling and small group participation to ensure high levels of engagement throughout. Participants will leave the session better able to build and nurture critically important relationships with all of their constituents. The presenter will share a wide range of relevant experiences that will be both practical and sensible. Expect to come away with new tools in your tool kit that have been proven over time to help new leaders transition effectively into new roles. Participants can also expect the presenter to share some powerful insights relative to wellness.

Participants will be given an array of supports, ideas, and processes for building and enhancing interpersonal relationships. This will be the most significant component of the practice standard that will be targetted. There will also be time given to ensure participants know and understand how to begin their roles as visionary leaders and they will also be given some key insights into staying well in difficult times. Kurt will also provide some compelling personal insights with respect to staying well in the midst of chaos and personal trauma.

Resources and Presentation Materials


Day 7 References

Kurt Sacher has just completed his 34th year in education. Kurt has sat in a number of chairs over his career. He has been an educational assistant, a teacher, a head teacher, a vic

e principal, a principal, an associate superintendent, a deputy superintendent and is currently the chief superintendent for Chinook’s Edge School Division based in Innisfail, AB. Kurt has his masters degree in educational leadership from the University of Calgary. Kurt started teaching elementary students to read and secondary students to understand mathematics back in 1986 in Cessford, AB. He went from there to teach high school math in Penticton, BC where he also spent three years as a teacher in a severe behavior program for grade 8-10 students. In Trochu, AB, he was the VP and later the Principal prior to moving to Lacombe where he was the Principal of Lacombe Composite High School for 5 years. After that, he was in central office with Wolf Creek Public Schools for 8 years prior to spending the last 10 years as the Superintendent and CEO for Chinook’s Edge School Division. Kurt has presented on a number of topics over the years (High Performing Teams, The Story of Lester, etc.) He has a daughter Jessica who has her Ph.D. in microbiology and biotechnology and she is currently the co-founder of The Phage Directory. Kurt likes playing online chess, cycling, and riding his motorcycle.

Marcie Perdue is currently the Associate Superintendent of Student Services for Chinook’s Edge School Division. She joined Chinook’s Edge in August, 2014 and has served as both Student Services Coordinator and Learning Services Coordinator since that time. Marcie has nearly 25 years of teaching and leadership experience.  During her time with both Rocky View and Golden Hills School Divisions, Marcie served as an English teacher, department head, learning specialist, instructional coach and administrator for programs for at-risk youth. Marcie was also an adjunct professor for Western University as well as a consultant who shares her expertise with school divisions across the province.

Marcie is passionate about supporting students with diverse learning needs and loves finding unique ways to create system wide supports for students and their families. Marcie’s formal educational background includes Bachelor degrees in Education and Arts (English) from the University of Alberta as well as a Masters degree in Educational Leadership and a Doctorate of Education in K-12 Leadership, both from the University of Calgary.

University Graduate Coursework

Registration Procedures: Start Right 2020

University Credit: Arrangements have been made with Alberta universities to offer graduate coursework for participants who are interested in extending the Start Right 2019 short course learning experience. If you are interested in pursuing this option, you will be required to register with the university and to pay a tuition fee. If you plan to register, please contact the university at your earliest convenience in order to ensure that enrollment requirements are met. The contact information is as follows:

University of Alberta
Please e-mail Dr. José da Costa, Ed.D., Professor of Educational Administration and Leadership, Department of Educational Policy Studies, Faculty of Education at jdacosta@ualberta.ca. Dr. da Costa will provide information about both the registration procedures and the additional reading and assignment required.

University of Calgary
Please contact Dr. Jim Brandon, Associate Professor Director of Professional Program at +1 (403) 862-3090 or jbrandon@ucalgary.ca

University of Lethbridge
In-program University of Lethbridge M.Ed. students and current M.Ed. applicants should contact Kevin Matis at matis@uleth.ca with regard to registration with a copy to Dr. Mombourquette at carmen.mombourquette@uleth.ca who will provide information about Independent Study and Open Studies Registration processes. (i.e. deadlines and additional expectations for academic work.)

Please note: The University of Lethbridge will only take applications from U of L current and former students.

Online registration now closed. Please email claudine.cortes@cass.ab.ca for registration information.


Deepening the understanding and applying the learning to support implementation of professional practice in newly appointed or aspiring school leaders.


July 2-3 & 6-10, 2020


Online through Zoom