Check-In, June 24th, 2019

Well folks, that is pretty much a wrap.

2018-19 was unique for a few reasons. We had a new system of educational governance in our province, a new NSTU president, and, of course, our first year without principals as part of our union.

The year certainly presented some rather unique challenges for your local president, to be sure. These including the pressures around the tripartite agreement, the rather intense negotiations that happened at the regional level in order to finally secure a regional agreement, and the introduction of the newly minted phrase “unscheduled instructional time” (although the pressure felt by me around that last one kind of pales in comparison to the rest of you.)

As we look forward to next year, we must also take stock and realize that there are some challenges ahead. Certainly several things in the asking package are cause for concern, and as a provincial election call looms on the horizon, we can expect the rhetoric to heat up in the fall, with teachers once again bearing the brunt.

Of course, we can’t predict how the negotiations will play themselves out, nor what new surprises like U.I.T. await on the horizon to further draw down on the energy reserve of teachers. However, what we can do is take the next few months to look after ourselves and our families, recharge, and prepare for whatever lies ahead.

For those of you who are traveling this summer, it is my sincere wish that you do so safely. As well, a quick well-wish to those hundreds of teachers who will be taking courses to upgrade their teaching practice over the summer months. If you are taking summer upgrades, take a moment or two to post on social media about them. It is always good for the general public to see that, when it comes to being a teacher, the job does not end when the final bell rings in June.

Have a great summer, and I hope to see many of you at the Pride parade on Saturday, July 20th, and then again at the labour day rally on Monday, September 2nd.


Check-In, Monday June 17th

Hey there County! Happy Monday!

As the end of year mayhem and bustle ramp up for teachers, things are, oddly enough, starting to quiet down at the office.

The biggest portion of my time last week was spent preparing for and answering questions about the Teacher Placement Process. That event took place on Saturday and saw hundreds of teachers securing positions for next year. Although the day can certainly be stressful, the process went quite well this year, with very few bumps in the road. Thanks to the Human Resources team from HRCE for doing a great job, and congratulations to all the teachers who were able to secure jobs for the 2019-2020 school year. 

For the teachers who were unable to attend TPP this year, the next round of postings goes live this Wednesday at 4:00 pm. PLEASE MAKE SURE that your resume is up to date and that you are very clear about your qualifications when applying for positions. One of the most common issues we see arises when teachers do not clearly indicate their qualifications and are then subsequently denied positions. 

The only other bit of business that remains on the docket is that I am still hearing of teachers who are being expected to do running records and input the data into report cards, but who have not been provided relief time to do so. If you are still looking for clarification on that issue, please contact me via e-mail.

That is all for a very brief note today. Enjoy your week, and good luck to all students who are writing exams. 

Check-In, Monday, June 10th

Hey there, County! Happy Monday!

I want to start with a particular shout out to all the retirees who managed to make it through the down-town-Bluenose-Marathon congestion yesterday to attend the retirement brunch. It was a lovely meal and the sun deck was absolutely lovely. Thank you to the Social Wellness committee for another great retirement function, and a special thank you to former NSTU local executive member, former NSTU staff officer, and former Teacher with Administrative Responsibility Jim King for his inspiring words. Check out our Facebook page for lots of great photos.

As well, a second nod to the Social Wellness committee for the social event that was help at Patron’s lounge on Thursday evening. There was a good turn out and the food and the golf simulator were awesome. Look for more events from this great group of volunteers come the fall.

Next it is my pleasure to announce the first of two recipients of the Halifax County Inspire award. JoAnn Sandford is a junior high math teacher at Sackville Heights Junior high school. The following notice will appear in tomorrow’s Chronicle Herald Community paper, City Voice, which is distributed to over 130,000 house holds in the Metro area. Well done JoAnn!

We will be announcing our second recipient next Monday. 

Have a great week County and reach out if you have any questions.

Check-In, Monday June 3rd

Good morning County! Happy Monday!

Not much in the wind this week, as most of last week was taken up with the new contract information sessions. Please note that the asking packages will be available at our Annual General Meeting this Wednesday for schools who have not yet received them.

Speaking of the AGM, this year’s will feature a number of elections for local executive positions, as well as what is usually a fairly robust discussion about our budget for next year. All members are welcome to attend at the Calais Legion in Lower Sackville. 6:00 pm for a 6:30 pm start.

We do have a few small informational things for you today. The first is that we are having our final social event of the year this Thursday night at Patrons Lounge just off Larry Utek. Come join us between 4 pm and 7 pm for some light refreshments and some fun. 

Second, I want to thank all of you who put members names forward for this year’s Inspire awards. We have our winners and we will be announcing them over the next two weeks! We will let you know as well when the winners will be appearing in the Herald.

Finally, a few congratulations are in order. To start with, Auburn Drive High School’s very own Melanie Kennedy was just announced as a recipient of a Certificate of Achievement from the Prime Ministers Award for Teaching Excellence. This is an incredibly high honour, and  for those of us familiar with Ms. Kennedy, is very well deserved.

As well, Halifax County’s newest Provincial Executive member, Shaun Doyle, was just announced as having been selected to serve as the 2nd VP for the Provincial body. To be selected to this seat in his first year speaks volumes to the impact Mr. Doyle is having at the table.

That’s it for this week, County. We are in the home stretch. Here’s hoping your week is wonderful, and lets cross our fingers for a bit of sunshine 🙂


Check-In, Monday, May 27th

Good morning County! Happy June almost!

Last week the majority of my time was taken up with staffing questions, with people concerned about perhaps being passed over for positions due to qualification issues. 

I just want to remind members that it is hugely important that you keep your online resume up to date, particularly when it comes to experiential qualifications. The HR department can only go by the information they have on hand when determining qualifications. If you do not indicate on myHRCE that you have taught under-water basket weaving for the past three years they will not know you are qualified. 

As well, if you wish to check how the HRCE determines qualifications, there is a qualifications chart available to members on document depot. If you feel HRCE has made an error, please let me know.

The next round of postings goes live on Thursday at 4 pm. 

In other business, the equity and reps committee has some exciting news. Last year, the local executive determined that they wished to spend more money locally, so we moved money out of Plan International and dedicated a line in our budget to support local groups. With that in mind, the committee has just opened up an application process whereby County members can apply for funding for local community groups. Click here to be taken to the application form and to find out more!

Speaking of community, we now have a number of nominations for this year’s Inspire award. We are running the awards a bit differently this year in that instead of an awards ceremony, we will be presenting the award at local schools and placing a write up and a picture in the Herald’s community news section. 

Anyone can nominate a County teacher who is doing great things in their school or community. Click here to get an application form! 

Please note that this week, NSTU staff will be offering information sessions on the asking package presented to the government for this round of bargaining. The schedule has been e-mailed to all NSTU accounts and is available on line. If you have not yet seen the schedule, please click here.

Finally, this week is your last chance to purchase tickets to the retirement brunch. I have tickets at the office, but if you can not make it in, give me a call (902) 499-0933 and I will try to arrange a spot for us to meet. As well, please come out and join us for our final social event of the year which will be held at Patrons Bar and Grill, 27 Dellridge lane, (just off Larry Utek) between 4 pm and 7 pm on Thursday, June 6th.

That is it for this week County! Have a great week and we will hopefully see you at the information sessions!





Check-In, May 21st

Good Morning County! I hope you had a great, albeit soggy, long weekend.

By now I am sure you are all aware of the conflict that has emerged between the NSTU and the government around funding of schools for next year. Your local presidents did get an opportunity to meet with representatives of HRCE’s senior management team last week, and were told that during the year there have been consultations with principals and senior staff around how schools are funded. 


HRCE had a focus group going on this year (that we did not know about) that was asked about guidance delivery in HRCE. That group, which included some guidance counselors, determined that the HRCE should meet its 1:500 ration, and that all kids in HRCE should have access to guidance. The HRCE has now met this obligation in all schools, but this has resulted in some reductions at schools which may have been “overstaffed” (if there is such a thing) in guidance. 

ELS/Reading recovery

The move from ELS back to reading recovery has been a promise of the government since they took office. We have been told that this change from ELS to R/R in some schools is just part of this trend. We could not determine if this is going to continue, as these decisions are now made at the provincial level.

Specialist allocations

These were determined as a .3 specialist for every classroom in a school. If a school had more than 15 classrooms, that ratio dropped to .25. This means that some schools will see allocation decreases. 

Resource/ Learning Center

The HRCE said this would remain needs driven, but allowed principals to play with the allocation. So if a principal got 1.5 Resource and 1.5 L/C, they could decide to go 2 and 1.


We are still trying to work out the O2 budgeting issue. As we see it, schools used to get $2500.00 from the DoEECD to spend on O2, and a top up from the HRCE of about $5500.00. This money was ear marked of O2. The way we understand it is that now the extra funding will still go to the schools, but that principals will have more discretion on how it is spent. As far as the staffing allocations are concerned, it is our understanding that those reductions were made at the HRCE level, where HRCE used to provide a .7 top up in allocations but has determined that will change going forward. 

The recent comments by Zach Churchill of school funding changes seem to indicate that this has been in the works for awhile now, and this may be why HRCE has seen such turmoil. However, we have no way of knowing if this is the case.

As well, we have been told that the budgeting process will last at least a few more weeks, so things may still move a bit between now and June. 

I wish that I could provide more clarity, but we have not been consulted on any of these changes, and received an explanation only last Tuesday. If you have any questions, e-mail them to me directly at

Now, onto other business.

The deadline for purchasing tickets for the retirement brunch is fast approaching! If you wish to purchase tickets, you have until May 31st to send your RSVP to Tickets are available at the office in Burnside, and you will be able to buy them until June 3rd. Please call (902) 499-0933 to ensure that I am in the office before you drop by. My usual office hours are from 8:00 am to 3:30 pm, but I do get called away from time to time.

Finally, we are still taking applications for any number of our local committees. The deadline for applications is tomorrow! This a great way for you to “get your feet wet” in the workings of our union. Click on any one of the links to the right of this page to find out more.

That’s it for this week, County. Have a great one.

PS: Don’t forget this year’s inspire award. E-mail for information and a nomination form 🙂


Check-In, May 13th, 2019

Good morning County! Happy Monday.

Last week certainly got interesting very quickly with the back and forth between the NSTU and the government about funding allocations for schools. Between ELS cuts, and guidance reallocations  and O2 budgets, it was certainly hard to keep up. There was an adamant denial from the government that there had been cuts, but the e-mails that I received certainly told a very different tale.

A special Management/Teacher meeting has been scheduled for tomorrow, and we hope to have a better picture of what has been happening once we have a chance to sit with HRCE. I will try to send out something on Wednesday morning if I feel it can provide any clarity to the current situation.

Wednesday is also when teachers will be receiving their NOAs from their principals, if they have not already. Please remember that under the terms of the new contract, your principal can be required to provide reasons in writing should there be a significant change in your NOA for next year. As well, principals are expected to have considered your requests when determining NOAs.

Now, on a lighter note, please be aware that the next offering of retirement tickets will be today at Madeline Symonds Middle School from 2 – 5 pm. If you wish to purchase you can do so at this time, or email to find out more. Please note that the cut off date is fast approaching. This year’s event will be a brunch held at the Prince George Hotel on June 9th starting at 11:30am.

As well, there is one final Halifax County Social event that is open to all members set for Thursday June 6th from 4 – 6 pm at Patron’s Lounge on Larry Utek. Come and join us for some light snacks and some fun.

Finally, please remember that there are several ways for you to get involved in your local. Whether you want to volunteer for a position on the executive, or are perhaps interested in joining a committee, there are a number of positions open for next year. Check out the links on teh right of this page for more details.

That’s it for this week County. Have a great one.


Check-In, Monday, May 6

Hello County. Happy Monday.

This weekend saw approximately 45 County members attend the 98th NSTU Annual Council.

Annual Council is a meeting which is held annually (ergo the name) where decisions are made about everything from NSTU policy to what to ask for in our contract. This year’s council saw a great deal of focus, not surprisingly, on budgetary concerns and on the upcoming negotiations. With the departure of the Community College membership and the removal of the administrators, the organization was facing a fairly significant financial shortfall. At the same time, although there was some tentative optimism about the impending contract negotiations, this was tempered with a recognition that, considering recent events, the NSTU would need to be prepared for any eventuality. Having our finances in order is a major part of that preparation.

To that end, to maintain services to members, and to make sure we maintain some fairly strategic alliances, a vote was passed which will see membership dues increase starting in August. The central NSTU office is preparing a communication for members to explain some of the ins and outs of the increase which should be out within a few days.

I do want to take a moment to thank all the delegates from County who gave up their weekend to lock themselves in a room with about 240 other teachers from all across the province to debate and discuss the issues of the day. As well, a special thanks to the local executive committees for all their work, particularly the nominations committee and the social-wellness committee. The event essentially went off without a hitch, and it was in large part thanks to their hard work.

Outside of Annual Council, there have been a few recent developments that have been taking up a great deal of time. To start with, it came to our attention only last week that there were some changes at the junior high level around how classes are being scheduled, in particular Phys Ed and Healthy Living. The HRCE has informed us that this decision was made in order to provide some consistency across schools, as there was none prior to this decision in how much time was dedicated to these subjects. If this change is causing undue stress or strain at your site, please send me an e-mail to provide some details.

As well, there has been a rather sudden expression of concern on Social Media about potential changes to guidance allocations and early literacy support. As of publishing time, we have received nothing in the way of a confirmation that changes are coming, but we have sent a request on to the HRCE for details. If your school is losing positions or if your allocations are changing, please contact me via e-mail with the details.

Finally, we do have a number of positions open on committees and on our local executive. Committees are a great way for members to get a feel for what the NSTU is all about and some of the many services we provide. For those looking to take on a greater commitment (or to take the next step on their NSTU journey) the local executive table is a fantastic experience. I encourage anyone who is interested to have a look at the forms posted on this page, and let me know if you want to find out anything about the role.

That’s it for today, County. Have a great 1st full week of May.

Check-In, Monday, April 29th

Good morning, County. Happy Monday!

Mostly informational items to pass along today. To start with, the nominations for this year’s Inspire awards are now open. These awards are available to any County member who has gone above and beyond in any capacity at your school, whether it be in teaching, school/community involvement, or service to the NSTU. Winners will have a write up posted in a local community paper of their choice, and nominations are open on an ongoing basis. To find out more, simply email me at

Don’t forget that ticket sales are well underway for this year’s retirement brunch which will be held on June 9th at the Prince George Hotel. Retirees will receive two tickets, and be presented with a small token of our appreciation at the event. If you wish to purchase tickets, please e-mail

Tonight at the office on Joseph Howe will be the final in a series of Economic Welfare sessions that have been presented this month, this one on how to navigate maternity/parental/adoption leave for members. The session starts at 4:30 pm, and to register, members simply have to email

Finally, the spring meeting of the Metro Teacher’s GSA will be held at The Youth Project, 2281 Brunswick Street from 5:00pm until 7:00pm. Please email to register.

That’s it for this week County. Have a great week, and I will see many of you at this week-ends annual council.

Check-In, Tuesday, April 23rd

Good morning County! Happy Tuesday!

A few points of information for this morning. To start with, for all of you who are looking to find out more information about how to secure a contract with the HRCE, there will be an information session on the ins and outs of securing a contract this Thursday from 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm at the Tom Parker Building, 3106 Joseph Howe Drive. This is meant for any metro teacher who wishes to understand the contract process. To register, please contact Leon Swinkels via e-mail at

Second, if you are a delegate for Annual Council, there is a meeting tomorrow evening at the Sackville Legion starting at 5:00 pm. We will be reviewing resolutions as well as going over some of the basics of what to expect at Annual Council. If you are unable to attend, please advise either myself or Jason Jennings at

Next, some exciting news for many of you in that we are well into the organizing stages of this year’s retirement brunch, which will be held at the Prince George Hotel on Sunday, June 9th. Doors open at 11:30 with the meal beginning at 12:00. Retirees are welcome to attend with one guest, (free of charge of course) and for the rest of us, tickets are $30.00. For more information e-mail The next opportunity to purchase tickets will be on Wednesday, May 8th at the local meeting.

Finally, please don’t forget that if you have a student graduating from public school this year and you are a Halifax County local member, your child may apply for a bursary from the local. Click on the link on the right hand side of this page to be taken to the application form.

That is it for this week County. I will be coming around this week to drop off invitations to retirees, so I will hopefully have a chance to chat with some of you over the next few days.

Have a great (albeit shortened) week.