For the Sea to Sky’s outgoing superintendent, giving Indigenous students a voice is one of the many standout moments that she’s had during her decade-long tenure at the school district.
“Something notable for me is that 10 years ago, we didn’t have an Indigenous education leadership program and we saw the voice of Indigenous students as a voice that wasn’t present in our work and in our corridor,” Supt. Lisa McCullough told The Chief on June 17.
“Today, we have over 80 students or more in our Indigenous education leadership group with a very strong, powerful voice that just speaks to how all of our students have more voice now, and our Indigenous students in particular, and I think that's probably one of the things I feel the most proud of.”
McCullough has been tapped by the Ministry of Education to work in its governance and analytics division.
She doesn’t have a formal title yet, but, in her new role, she’ll be helping school districts throughout the province follow the ministry’s mandated framework for education.
She will be off to her new job as of Sept. 1.
To this end, she’ll be part of a team that’s tracking school district performance. McCullough will be giving pointers to the school districts that need some help.
She said that one of the things that stood out to ministry officials was the Sea to Sky School District’s commitment to consistent improvement, despite the strides that they made, such as a high graduation rate among Indigenous students.
“Our school district has not rested on those laurels. And, in fact, we went through a very ambitious change management model about three years ago, where we called it ‘Digging Deeper,’ and we went in and found evidence of overrepresentation of Indigenous students and children with diverse abilities right across all areas of vulnerability in our school district. And those areas are the same in all public school districts in the province in our country, around the world,” said McCullough.
“When we looked inside that data and saw that overrepresentation, we called ourselves out on it. We worked with First Nations communities to learn how to go deeper with our understandings of the work needed to be done. And we are not through that work yet. There is a lot more work to do.”
It’s not just about results, but a constant drive to do better that has fuelled the ambitions of the Sea to Sky School District, she said.
“It’s the relentless, continuous improvement we’re willing to face,” she noted.
McCullough has been picked for a secondment, which usually describes a temporary reassignment, but in this case, the effects may be longer-lasting.
She said she doesn’t plan on returning to the Sea to Sky as a superintendent, hence a recruiting process for a new top official will be initiated.
McCullough said that if she decides to return to SD48, it will be in a different capacity.
“There is always a chance that I will return but I am not asking the board to keep the superintendent position available,” she said.
“I would be honoured to come back in any position if I did choose to come back.”
As a result, the board will begin looking for a new superintendent in July, and SD48 is looking to have a replacement by mid-October.
In an announcement, the school board expressed their gratitude for the outgoing superintendent’s contributions.
“The board of education would like to express sincere gratitude to Lisa for 10 years of service to School District No. 48 students, parents, community, and staff and wish her all the best in her important work with the Ministry of Education,” reads a release from the school board.
For her part, McCullough said — audibly emotional — that she treasured the time she’s spent helming the Sea to Sky’s schools.
“I have been very honoured to live in this place, and to work with everyone here for over the past decade so, I guess, I just want to say that I'm immensely grateful for my time here, and for my learning that has been gifted to me. And I am just so deeply proud of students, families, communities, staff and our board of education.”