2024 Leading for Learning Program for Experienced School Leaders

The College of Alberta School Superintendents’ 17th Annual Leading for Learning short course is for newly or appointed system leaders and returning Start Right Leaders who want to delve deeper into leadership development.

PDF  Leading for Learning 2024 Program

Online registration is now closed. 


July 2-4, 2024
Tuesday – Thursday


Olds College
4500 50 Street
Treaty 7


With Accommodations: $1,050.00
Without Accommodations: $735.00

Program Features

The Leading for Learning short course is designed to bring leaders together as a learning community to reflect on their own leadership style and education practices. This course offers leaders opportunities to:

  • Explore and experience the Leadership Quality Standard and the Superintendent Leadership Quality Standard;
  • Gain new ideas and resources through engaging presentations and interactive learning activities facilitated by Alberta educational leaders with a wealth of school and school system experience;
  • Engage in job embedded tasks and experiences linked to:
    • inspiring a shared vision
    • providing instructional leadership
    • supporting Truth and Reconciliation
    • leading change initiatives
    • mentoring and coaching for peak performance
    • team building
    • strategic planning
    • leadership communication strategies
    • stakeholder relationships and engagement;
  • Meaningfully address issues and challenges encountered by school leaders and develop practical strategies for action;
    • Reflect and build new leadership ideas for professional practice;
    • Connect with colleagues from other school jurisdictions to build an extended support network.

The annual Leading for Learning Program offers successful, content-rich sessions that build upon the experiences of all our participants. If you are a repeat attendee, please take note that some sessions will be repeated from previous years due to their success and continued relevance. We value the unique experiences that returning participants bring and look forward to their insights to the discussions.

PDF  Campus Map

Participants will stay in the residences at Centennial Village! Each room is furnished with a double bed, desk plus chair, closet with shelving, a night stand, and private bath. All units are non-smoking. Free parking is available. For more information, click here.

Participants will be provided with a cafeteria meal ticket for daily breakfast and lunch, with one banquet dinner as scheduled. Breakfast will be served from 7:00 a.m. to 8:15 a.m. and lunch from 12:00 noon to 1:00 p.m. Refreshments will be available during session breaks.

Location of Sessions
All sessions will be held on the beautiful Olds College Campus.  Smoking is not permitted inside the Centre or any other building on campus.

Arrangements can be made to extend the Start Right 2024 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.

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.

For any other inquiries, contact Colleen Symyrozum-Watt at 587 879-7026 or symwatt.colleen@gmail.com.


Day 1 – Tuesday, July 2, 2024

9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Facilitator(s): Dr. Scott Morrison

Presentation Slides

Participants will leave with a better understanding of how they can serve as instructional leaders to improve learning.

Scott will begin with a reflection on leadership styles as they pertain to student learning. Scott will then lead participants through an examination of three high yield practices that improve student learning using a personalized narrative approach. The session will conclude with participants engaging in discussion and reflection about high yield instructional practices.


Dr. Scott Morrison is the former Superintendent of Christ the Redeemer (CTR) Catholic Schools, which is centered in Okotoks and serves approximately 10,000 students across southcentral Alberta. Scott has been an educator for over 30 years, and his leadership experience also includes serving as 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 an LQS and SLQS instructor for St. Mary’s University and the University of Calgary respectively. Scott also consults with St. Mary’s University on the development of its inaugural Master of Education program, and is the Executive Director of the Council of Catholic School Superintendents in the fall of 2023. 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 12th consecutive year that Scott will be presenting at Leading for Learning.

1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Facilitator(s): Dr. Chris Fuzessy & Allen Davidson

Presentation Slides

This session will help participants focus on effective communication practices as a foundation for all of their work. Everyone listens to the leader and tries to interpret the meaning of what is being shared. Whether in person, in writing written, or in informal settings such as a school visit, what the leader says, and how it is said ripples across the organization. Communicating is at the heart of the work in leadership. It provides a potential pathway to success for the teams we lead and to inspire the entire organization.  The presenters will share insights from four areas of leadership communications:

  • Building trust through transparency
  • Communicating the why
  • Sharing the vision
  • Modelling effective communications

Participants in this session will reflect upon, practice, and hear stories of practice from both the presenters and fellow participants. The presenters will share structures that have been both successful and unsuccessful, and also share insights on continued learning and wiser communications practices moving forward. Participants will leave the session with insight into their own communication style and practice, as well as with tools they can try to develop their communications practices further.


Dr. Chris Fuzessy joined the Foothills School Division team as Superintendent of Schools in June 2019. He moved to Alberta from Montreal at that time with his wife of 25 years, 3 children, 3 dogs and 2 cats to settle in the Foothills.  Since that time, Chris has worked closely with his Board of Trustees and Executive Team to develop the strategic direction of the division. With an investment in the prosperity of not only students, but families, and community members, Chris has guided the division to adopt the purpose of education at the center of a flourishing community.  From this, the region has benefited from the drive for excellence in serving students and their families and developing initiatives aimed at enhancing student empowerment, high-quality teaching, and learning.

Always learning, and ever-evolving, Chris continuously seeks information to guide his personal leadership skills and the practices at Foothills School Division. This information is synthesized and connected to real-work implications within the system; shared throughout via weekly communications and internal professional development opportunities. With a passion to exchange knowledge, Dr. Fuzessy collaborates with community partners and the FSD team to remove the barriers that impede a flourishing learning environment, resulting in a cohesive system-wide team that strives for the engagement, support, and success of each student. On a personal note, Chris carries this curiosity into the rest of his life and enjoys developing beginning skills of carpentry, running and hiking.

Dr. Fuzessy holds a Bachelor of Education and a Master of Arts, Educational Studies degree from Concordia University and a Doctor of Philosophy, Curriculum, Teaching, and Learning from the University of Toronto, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. Throughout his 31 years of experience as an educator, Dr. Fuzessy has worked as an educational student life animator, education assistant, teacher, principal, and system level leader.  His academic studies focused on Inuit post-secondary students as well as the teachers’ role in the Nunavik education system. As Chris continues to share his knowledge with the larger community, he has come to be widely known as a leader who is consistently dedicated to the success and engagement of the greater school community.

Allen Davidson is an Assistant Superintendent of Employee Services with Foothills School Division (FSD). Al began his career in Peace River School Division before joining FSD in 1998 and has K-12 experience as a teacher with most of his time in Division 3 classrooms. During his 25 years with FSD he has served as a Teacher, Instructional Coach, Vice Principal, Principal, and system leader. He has benefited from strong mentorship throughout his career and seeks to reciprocate that gift to others through his leadership.

Day 2 – Wednesday, July 3, 2024

8:05 a.m. – 10:05 a.m.

Facilitator(s): Dr. Andrea Holowka

Presentation Slides

Leadership is not a neutral endeavour and is meant to have substantial impact on student outcomes. Whether you are continuing on or new to your role, division, or school, a lens of continuous improvement is always required. Session participants will be led through leadership content and reflection to sharpen leadership skillsets that can create conditions for change. The session will explore ways to shift the mindsets of those you lead, moving from an inclination to rationalize data to entering into a state of curiosity and wonder. These strategic activities, rooted in theory and practice, will allow leaders to leverage the talents of those working most closely with students, while providing opportunities for assurance and celebration of the success of both students and staff.


Dr. Andrea Holowka is the Superintendent of Schools with Christ The Redeemer (CTR) Catholic Schools. Through her 29 years of service in education, Andrea brings leadership experience from her roles as a teacher, principal, system leader, and superintendent. Andrea served has served in superintendent roles for ten years in various divisions, including CTR, the Calgary Board of Education, and the Calgary Catholic School District. Andrea has a Doctorate of Education, with a dissertation on supporting mental health intervention services across large school authorities. Andrea is active in leadership and cross-sector collaborations throughout Alberta and has served in provincial leadership roles including President of the Catholic School Superintendents of Alberta (CCSSA) and President of the College of Alberta School Superintendents (CASS).

10:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.

Facilitator(s): Ray Hoppins

Presentation Slides

Principals, vice-principals, and other leaders who participate in this session will engage in meaningful discussion and leave with a wide variety of tips, tricks, processes, resources, and key understandings in the area of human resources within the schoolhouse. 

This is a discussion-based session for developing school leaders in the area of human resources, personnel, staffing, people services and staff wellness.  During our 2 hours together we engage in small and large group discussion around several scenarios and dilemmas on human resource topics that school leaders face each and every day.    Come join us and be ready to share key ideas from your school and jurisdiction as well.  Together, we will not only identify issues and challenges, but actual solutions that help us manage our most important resource, our people.

Related LQS Competencies:  Participants will have opportunities to add to their toolboxes in the following LQS competencies:

  • Leadership Competency 1 – Fostering Effective Relationships: For school leaders, developing and maintaining effective relationships with staff is just as important as relationships with other stakeholder groups.  And let it be said that it is not easy.  Great school leaders develop skills in serving their staff in the same manner that great teachers serve their students.
  • Leadership Competency 8 – Managing School Operations and Resources: Many of us find ourselves in leadership positions without any formal training or background in the area of human resources.  We are great at teaching and learning, but need more support and learning opportunities when it comes to hiring, supporting, challenging, encouraging, managing, organizing, and celebrating staff.


Ray Hoppins has spent more than 30 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 the Associate Superintendent of People Services 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 four grown children who regularly reach out for help with laundry, finances, and auto repair. Ray has presented at the Start Right Short Course for the last 18 years.

1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Facilitator(s): Jeanien Bell

Since time immemorial Inuit have lived in harmony on and with the land. In what some consider of the harshest climates and geographies in the world, Inuit have and continue to survive and thrive.  The success of our Inuit communities involve living, honoring, and upholding a specific set of principles and practices. Through the sharing of Inuit oral tradition & games, this session will support leaders in coming to an increased awareness of Inuit identity, customs, culture, community, and connection to the land with an emphasis on traditional Inuit approaches to leading and leadership. Educational Leaders will examine, explore, and develop practical methods to authentically interweave traditional Inuit principles into their personal and professional practice – enhancing and complementing the way they serve, support, guide and direct their faculty, staff, and students. Session participants are encouraged to dress comfortably for participation in the experiential learning component of the program.


Jeanien Bell (she/her) is an Inuk kablunangujuq educator, artist, and angajukKâk of mixed Inuit and Qallunat ancestry. Raised in a semi remote sub-arctic village of 450 on the land, water, and ice on Nitassinan – the traditional territories of the Innu First Nation and her Nunatsiavumiut Inuit Ancestors. Guided by Inuit Maligait & Qaujimajatuqangit principles, Jeanien is fortunate to have lived her life immersed in the traditional land-based community centered ways of her Inuit Ancestors. Relationships formed on and with the land, the experience, knowledge, and skills acquired through traditional teachings motivates and inspires her life’s work.

For the past 16 years, Jeanien has been an honored and humbled guest in the Treaty 6 & Treaty 7 Territories – the traditional homelands of her Southern relatives, the diverse First Nations and Métis peoples. She considers it a great privilege to live among her human and more than human relatives and she is thereby committed to fulfilling her relational obligations to respect and care for the peoples, skies, lands, and waters that sustain and support all life.

Jeanien humbly serves her community as AngajukKâk of the Inuit Edmontonmiut Community, co-director / co-founder of the Inuit Community Development and Education Foundation, Chair of Indigenous Studies at NorQuest College and a member of the Métis Women’s Council on Economic Security advising the Minster of Indigenous Relations on policies, programs, and services to improve the lives of Indigenous women, their families, and communities. Jeanien uses her gift of two eyed seeing and her experience of walking in two worlds to serve Indigenous and Non-Indigenous communities alike; providing support, guidance, and direction to others so they may identify their unique gifts to uplift their families and communities: ensuring an increasingly just and equitable future for all.

Day 3 – Thursday, July 4, 2024

8:05 a.m – 10:05 a.m.

Facilitator(s): Dr. Konsctancija deGoeij

Difficult conversations with adults in school settings are becoming more commonplace and more intense.  How can you as a leader effectively communicate with those individuals with whom you work? Do you understand group dynamics? This presentation raises awareness of how behavior impacts people around us, and looks at the strengths everyone brings to the group that increases trust and respect so that relationships are maintained.

Related LQS competencies participants will explore and experience:

  1. Fostering Effective Relationships (such as – acting with fairness, respect and integrity; demonstrating empathy and a genuine concern for others; creating a welcoming, caring, respectful and safe learning environment; demonstrating a commitment to the health and well-being of all teachers, staff and students; engaging in collegial relationships while modeling and promoting open, collaborative dialogue; communicating, facilitating and solving problems effectively; and implementing processes for improving working relationships and dealing with conflict within the school community.)
  2. Modeling Commitment to Professional Learning (such as – engaging with others such as teachers, principals and other leaders to build personal and collective professional capacities and expertise; actively seeking out feedback and information from a variety of sources to enhance leadership practice; engaging members of the school community to build a shared understanding of current trends and priorities in the Education system.)
  3. Embodying Visionary Leadership (such as – recognizing the school community’s values and aspirations and demonstrating an appreciation for diversity; collaborating with other leaders and superintendents to address challenges and priorities; supporting school community members, including school councils, in fulfilling their roles and responsibilities)
  4. Leading a Learning Community (such as – creating an inclusive learning environment in which diversity is embraced, a sense of belonging is emphasized, and all students and staff are welcomed, cared for, respected, and safe; establishing opportunities and expectations for the positive involvement of parents/guardians in supporting student learning)
  5. Supporting the Application of Foundational Knowledge about First Nations, Métis and Inuit (such as – enabling all school staff and students to gain a knowledge and understanding of, and respect for, the histories, cultures, languages, contributions, perspectives, experiences and contemporary contexts of First Nations, Métis and Inuit; and pursuing opportunities and engaging in practices to facilitate reconciliation within the school community.)
  6. Providing Instructional Leadership (such as – building the capacity of teachers to respond to the learning needs of all students; implementing professional growth, supervision and evaluation processes to ensure that all teachers meet the Teaching Quality Standard)


Dr. Konsctancija deGoeij 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. She has considerable experience in professional relations, terminations, suspensions, transfers, evaluations, professional conduct investigations, and professional development, leadership training. She is a certified mediator and published author. Her focus is 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.

Prior to assuming her position with the Association, Konni had a wide variety of experience gained through working for four different school jurisdictions in Alberta. Konni has been a classroom teacher in grades 6 to grade 12 in a variety of disciplines and programs. Konni has taught has been a school administrator, both as Principal and Vice-Principal for 13 years. 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.

10:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.

Facilitator(s): Shawna Warren, Dan Requa and Colleen Symyrozum-Watt

Presentation Slides

In today’s rapidly evolving world, leadership isn’t about positional authority; it’s about influence, inspiration, and impact. True leadership stems from within, from a deep understanding of oneself, and a commitment to continuous growth and development. “Leadership from Within” emphasizes that leadership is not just a role or a set of skills; it’s a way of thinking and living. There are no shortcuts on the journey to authentic leadership. It requires introspection, courage, and a willingness to challenge oneself. In this session, participants will gain practical insights, tools, and techniques to lead with authenticity, integrity, and resilience. Whether you’re a seasoned leader or an emerging talent, “Leadership from Within” will challenge you to unlock your full potential and make a positive difference in your school/school authority and beyond. Through a series of interactive exercises, discussions, and reflective practices, participants will discover how to cultivate their unique leadership style, harness their inner resources, and lead with purpose and authenticity.


Shawna Warren has served as the Superintendent of Sturgeon Public Schools for the past three years. Previous to this role, she served as Associate Superintendent, Director, Principal and Vice Principal. Shawna was born and raised in southern Alberta, and since starting her teaching career in 1992, has always worked for rural school boards. She holds Arts and Education degrees from the University of Lethbridge and a Master’s Degree from the University of Alberta. Shawna is recognized as a collaborative problem solver and is committed to lifelong learning, high achievement and creating inclusive environments.


Dan Requa is the principal of Four Winds Public School in Morinville, Alberta, where he has led transformative initiatives since its opening in September 2019. With eight years of administrative experience, Dan received the Administrator Distinguished Leadership Award in 2021 for his dedication to student success. He believes in authentic leadership, emphasizing influence, inspiration, and impact. This year, Dan and his team at Four Winds have been focusing on the power of group-designed universal supports to create optimal learning environments.


Colleen Symyrozum-Watt is a CASS Leadership Consultant. With over three decades of experience in the education sector, she has held a variety of roles including classroom teacher, elementary school principal, division consultant, director of learning, deputy superintendent, and superintendent.

Before joining CASS as a Leadership Consultant in 2017, Colleen worked for Alberta Education and served on numerous provincial committees, as well as the CASS zone and provincial executive. In addition to her work in the education sector, Colleen has also completed executive coaching through Royal Roads University. Throughout her career, she has shown a commitment to improving educational outcomes for students and a passion for leadership development.

1:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Facilitator(s): Kurt Sacher

Principals, vice-principals, and other leaders who participate in this session will engage in meaningful discussion and leave with key insights into 7 powerful dimensions of leadership.

Related LQS Competencies:  Participants will have opportunities to add to their toolboxes in the following LQS competencies:

  • Leadership Competency 1 – Fostering Effective Relationships: This competency will be addressed throughout the session in a variety of ways. This session targets this competency more than any of the others.
  • Leadership Competency 6 – Providing Instructional Leadership: One of the most difficult components of supervision and evaluation of teachers is building the will and the skill to confront injustice. A component of this session will tackle this very important competency.

Through the power of authentic storytelling this session will engage participants around 7 key points of discussion. Developing school leaders who want people to follow their legitimate authority (who they are and what they stand for) rather than designated authority (title) will come away energized and confident. This is a discussion-based session for teacher leaders, school leaders, and division office leaders that will focus on the person behind the name tag or title, how to create personal wellness in exceedingly difficult times, key components of effective teams, how to confront what matters most, and more.  During our 2.5 hours together we engage in small and large group discussion around several storylines that the presenter will share from several powerful and personal experiences. You will find affirmation for much of what you do already, you will steal some new ideas, and you will be challenged by some influential insights into leadership from someone who has had virtually every name tag there is. Grounds crew, educational assistant, teacher, head teacher, vice principal, principal, assistant superintendent, deputy superintendent and chief superintendent or CEO.


Kurt Sacher has served as Superintendent of Schools in Chinook’s Edge School Division for the past fourteen years. Prior to that, he served for 8 years as an Assistant Superintendent in charge of Human Resources for Wolf Creek Public Schools. He has 38 years of teaching and administrative experience, including 11 years as a school based administrator. Kurt was Head Teacher for an Outreach School in Penticton, British Columbia, Assistant Principal and Principal at Trochu Valley School, and concluded his school-based administrative experience by serving as Principal of Lacombe Composite High School for 5 years. Kurt has presented “The Story of Lester” at venues across Alberta for the past number of years which facilitates insight around the complexity of teacher performance issues. Kurt has also presented on several occasions to schools and various other groups on topics such as: “Building an Effective Team”; “The Big Little Things Great Teachers Do”; and “Dealing with Difficult Parents”. He has presented for 20 consecutive years at the CASS Start Right Program for Beginning School Leaders and for 16 consecutive years at the CASS Leading for Learning Program for Experienced School Leaders. Kurt was appointed the President for CASS for the 2018-19 school year effective July 1, 2018 and was the Past CASS President for two years and also a member of the C21 CEO Academy of Canada. Kurt was awarded the CASS EXL Award for Excellence in 2021. This prestigious award is granted to outstanding school system leaders who exhibit exemplary leadership ability and have enhanced the profession of school system administration over the course of their careers.