← Back to Conferences/Workshops

2020 Start Right Program for Beginning School Leaders

General Information

The College of Alberta School Superintendents’ (CASS) 22th annual Start Right course for newly appointed school principals, assistant/vice-principals and aspiring leaders will be offered at Olds College, located in the Town of Olds, beginning at 2:00 p.m. on Monday, July 6, 2020 and ending at noon on Thursday, July 9, 2020. The registration fee is $925.00 (includes GST) or $625.00 (includes GST) if accommodation will not be required. Registration is limited to 110 participants.

The term “newly appointed” refers to individuals who are just finishing their first year in a school-based administrative position, or who will be in their first year during the 2020-2021 school year. “Aspiring” refers to any certified teacher who wishes to pursue school leadership during their career.

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

  • 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;
  • Further developing a vision for successful school leadership; and
  • Providing practical support for the 2020-2021 school year through email advice and articles.

Start Right 2020 will be co-coordinated by the Directors of Leadership for the College of Alberta School Superintendents (CASS), Colleen Symyrozum-Watt and Elizabeth Gouthro.

Participants will be accommodated in private rooms at Centennial Village, meals will be provided through campus food services, and all sessions will be held on the beautiful campus of Olds College. 

Over the past 21 years, there have been more than 1,530 participants in the Start Right course.  The feedback from participants has been very positive. 99% of the 2019 participants rated the learning experience as excellent, and 99% of the participants indicated they would recommend the program to other new administrators and leadership trainees in the future.

The following are representative comments from the 2019 participant evaluation survey:

  • Honestly, probably the best learning, PD, and conference I have ever attended; focusing on what a 1st year Administrator needs to know has brought me so much calmness and clarity to start in September!  
  • High caliber of presenters, who shared personal stories that exemplified their humility and passion for the job, reminding me that I will make mistakes and I’ll be OK.
  • I’m coming away with many new tools and increased confidence for my first year as Principal. Thank you for a wonderful conference!
  • I now know what to do, by knowing what not to do.
  • Very relevant content, engaging speakers, good food and great accommodations. I had a fantastic time and enjoyed the networking opportunity.
  • Strategies and stories shared enabled me to reflect on my practice during this past year. I wish I had attended Start Right last summer.
  • This was very timely. It will support me as I get started. I appreciate that it is before I am in the thick of things.
  • Real world problems and solutions and ideas.
  • This course is an eye opener for a future administrator. It is a challenge that I have been nervous to undertake, but believe that I can undertake this role effectively and love the job now.
  • Very applicable, great speakers, a lot of time and thought have gone into the topics and how the days are structured, genuinely felt that the speakers cared…it was more than just a job for them to present to us, so much valuable information
  • ALL the information was invaluable. The whole conference was engaging and I am a bit sad that we are done. Everything ran smoothly and I was able to network with a variety of people that I would not have met otherwise.
  • I am coming back to Alberta after being away for a few years. Even though I took the course as a new principal in 2002, I found the information relevant. It allowed me to review, confirm and refresh my knowledge.  I also found the time with colleagues and the networking to be most important.

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.

Note: If you require additional information or have any questions regarding Start Right 2020, please do not hesitate to contact Colleen (contact info above) or Elizabeth @ elizabeth.gouthro@cass.ab.ca

Program Information

Coming soon…

Olds College Information

PDF  Campus Map

Participants will stay in the residences at Centennial Village! Each private 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, go to http://oldscollege.ca/student-life/student-housing/centennial-village/index.

Participants will be provided with a cafeteria meal ticket for breakfast and lunch on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. There will be a catered-meals on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evening at 6:00 p.m. Except for Thursday evening, these will be joint functions with the Leading for Learning participants. Breakfast will be served from 7:00 a.m. to 8:15 a.m., lunch from 12:00 noon to 1:00 p.m. and dinner as scheduled. 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.

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 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.

Conference Reading and Resource Materials

PDF  Instructional Tool Kit

More coming soon…

Coming Soon


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


July 6 - 9, 2020


Olds College
Olds, Alberta

Accommodations: Participants will stay in the new 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.

Meals are included in the registration fee.

Location of Sessions: All sessions will be held on the beautiful campus of Olds College.

CASS members (supervisors) are welcome to drop in!