June 25, 2024: Year-end letter for families from Superintendent Teresa Downs

June 25, 2024 2:47 PM

Dear families,

As the 2023/24 school year ends for most of our schools, I am also concluding my first 100 days as the new Superintendent of Schools for the Maple Ridge – Pitt Meadows School District. The goal of my first 100 days was to prioritize learning the culture and context of this district. Our annual District Highlights magazine does a wonderful job of capturing some of this culture through the stories of our schools. I invite you to explore these stories here:

District highlights magazine

Over the last 100 days, I have been incredibly fortunate to be able to visit each school and department and meet students, staff, and families. I have also been able to meet with Rights-holders, partners and many community groups.

Although it is difficult to capture everything I have seen, heard, and experienced, the following themes resonate with me as I reflect on all the reasons I am grateful to be a part of this district:

  • This is a great school district with amazing team members who strive to support students in achieving their potential every day.
  • Staff have an immense amount of well-earned pride in the work they are doing.
  • This is a tightly connected and caring learning community.
  • There is a deep commitment to inclusion in classrooms, schools, and across the district.
  • Staff embrace the growing diversity of the communities we serve as a strength and an opportunity to deepen our work.
  • The number of community groups who generously support the district, schools, and students is overwhelming.

As with all systems – even great ones – there are challenges. Like other school districts across the province and the country, the Maple Ridge – Pitt Meadows School District is experiencing high levels of daily teacher absences that we are unable to fill. This past school year, we’ve seen an annual daily average of 20.5 instances where teacher absences could not be covered by a teacher teaching on call (TTOC). On some days, this number has been as high as 56. School teams have been attempting to manage these unfilled absences by having support teachers, English Language Learners teachers, librarians, principals, vice principals and other such professionals cover classrooms when a certified TTOC is not available. While we appreciate the immense efforts of staff, this approach has created a significant strain on the system and is unsustainable in the long term.  

So, for the 2024/25 school year, we will be joining other districts in the Fraser Valley – including Langley, Abbotsford, and Chilliwack – in addressing these unfilled absences by hiring educated and experienced yet uncertified individuals to join our team as uncertified teachers on call (relief teachers). We will be prioritizing applicants who have a post-secondary degree and demonstrated experience working with children/youth, including teachers who completed their teaching degree in another country. Relief teachers will be deployed in situations where we have exhausted our list of all available certified TTOCs. We look forward to seeing the positive impact these individuals will have in our system.

Thank you for the opportunity to know your child and support their learning and growth. I wish each of you a safe, healthy, and rejuvenating summer.


Teresa Downs
Superintendent of Schools




An FAQ list about the hiring of relief teachers is available here.


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