If you are more fortunate than others, build a longer table, not a taller fence.
Mr. Ian Gray is the Superintendent of Aurora Academic Charter Schools in Edmonton, Alberta. He has 28 years of teaching and administration experience and has been an Online Learning Coordinator, a Director of Technology, and has held multiple principalships. He holds both leadership and superintendent leadership certifications in Alberta. He earned a Master of Education in Leadership degree from the University of Portland and is currently completing doctoral work to support research and innovation in his school authority and in partnerships with community and academic institutions, including Simon Fraser University and the University of Alberta. Mr. Gray currently serves on the Alberta Research Network Steering Committee as well as Alberta Education's Professional Conduct and Competency Panel.
Mr. Gray is also the current President of The Association of Alberta Public Charter Schools, an organization committed to promoting and facilitating public charter school education in Alberta.
For leisure, I spent a lot of time slapping tennis balls against my parents' garage door with my hockey stick, occasionally even hitting the net placed before it. That poor door was covered, from corner to corner, with dark, round spots where the ball, often wet from rain or from travelling through my mother's small garden, gave many not-so-pleasant kisses. My parents never complained, nor did they ever make me clean it. In some respects, I think they liked it. The marks were somewhat of a tribute to their encouragement of physical activity in their children.
Without fail, if I was outside pounding balls or playing with my friends, younger kids would join in. And, of course, we always let them, even though it spoiled whatever game we had going on at the time. Even if I was inside, the doorbell would often ring, and my mom would answer it, calling out that some youngster from the neighbourhood wanted to know if I would play. And, of course, I always did.
It was also the year when a love of learning was firmly cemented in my heart. I owe much of that to my teacher that year, Mr. Nestlbeck, who encouraged me in my pursuit of knowledge. Learning about ancient civilizations, science (rocketry club was the best!), sports, photography (we developed our own pictures from our homemade pin-hole cameras back then), and a ton of other interests, I was driven to engage with every book and magazine I could find. When anyone in my family wasn't sure of a fact, we all said, "Look it up!" At the time, that meant grabbing a dictionary or Encyclopedia Brittanica.
So, looking back, looking way back, it's probably no surprise that I became a teacher. I knew that was what I wanted to be every time I stood on the driveway and passed the tennis ball to the little guys who lived on my parents' block.
Well, that or a pilot. Because flying planes is cool.
Grade six was my favourite year of school. I had good friends, a happy and healthy family, and no end of interests and activities to pursue.
Mary Healy has enjoyed a 24-year career with Aurora Charter School in various roles and is currently Director of Student Learning Support services (SLS). Her previous experience as a principal and a teacher of elementary through high school supported students in an academic setting that values students in their pursuit of educational achievement. Working with families in partnership has yielded strong foundations for student success.
Mary Healy holds a BSc., BEd., a Master's degree in Leadership and a Certificate in Leadership and Superintendency. In addition, she received certification for Level B assessment administration and advanced Cognitive Coaching for Leadership. She served on the Edmonton Regional Consortium leadership committee to support the delivery of student support services in the Edmonton area. This experience has proved valuable in creating, leading and developing a continuum of school-based student support service planning and delivery at Aurora.
With experience and background knowledge in early literacy and numeracy and a strong interest in research to improve student achievement, her collaboration with the Aurora staff initiated a number of research projects at the school level. Her involvement in community working groups and piloting screening and digital assessments provided opportunities and roles to consult, lead and collaborate with various stakeholders.
Mary continues building capacity in school family partnerships while addressing needs of the students through the school based SLS. Working with teaching staff, school administration, and SLS health team members, Mary brings essential leadership for coordinating service delivery and managing Aurora’s SLS services for referred students.
Outside of worklife, Mary enjoys spending time with family and friends, traveling, and trying new hobbies.
Kelly Drury Laffin is a lifelong learner and dedicated educator whose roles include teacher, consultant, and principal in public, charter, and independent schools. As a teacher, she has taught kindergarten, and grades 6 through 12, in a variety of subject areas, with a focus on English Language Arts, Mathematics, and Social Studies. As a district leader for Aurora Charter Schools, she is the Coordinator of Assessment & Instructional Design, focusing on supporting school leaders and educational staff in all areas related to curriculum, assessment, and leadership. Kelly is also serving on the boards for the Canadian Assessment for Learning Network, and for the ATA Middle Years Council.
She has a passion to make education more authentic and relevant for today's learners by collaborating with educators to enhance, and make deeper connections with, their instructional design and assessments. Kelly believes educators can engage and empower learners to harness their own passions and learning for the transformative education needed for the 21st century.