Grebinski outlines LEADS members’ role as always being in the middle

March 17, 2020

LEADS Executive Director Ben Grebinski.

You do not have to draw a road map for Ben Grebinski when it comes to succinctly explaining where the League of Educational Administrators, Directors and Superintendents fits into the overall education landscape in the province.

After all, the man has been involved in the education sector in one capacity or another for 44 years, and the recent LEADS Annual Policy Conference saw him presiding over his first such event as the organization’s executive director.

When asked where LEADS fits into things in the current climate of teacher unrest with the provincial government, Grebinski had no hesitation in concurring that, as always, LEADS finds itself right in the middle as per usual.

“It’s an interesting dynamic for our members. We have to maintain strong relations with our teachers because they are the ones delivering the services to our students, and so that’s the reason we exist. But at the same time, we have to remember the Saskatchewan School Boards Association are the key employers and we’re also aligned under the Ministry [of Education] umbrella,” Grebinski pointed out.

“It is a complicated position for our members to be in, but I’m very proud of how we’re able to demonstrate that very important skill set so that our schools are able to continue to provide stability for the students and youth of the province. That means setting aside political leanings our folks might have in order to stay the course.

“Regardless of what might be happening around us, we have to maintain the quality of the program we deliver on a daily basis. It’s about managing in difficult times and when we are challenged, we ensure that operations continue with a sense of dignity and respect,” Grebinski added.

Musing over the sanctions vote by the province’s 13,500 teachers that saw an overwhelming voter turnout of 96.6 percent with 90.2 percent voting for possible job action, Grebinski acknowledged it was undoubtedly a strong show of unity among teachers.

However, he pointed out that in his time, he has experienced three or four sanctions by teachers. “The specifics might change, but it’s not new to me and we always come to a resolution at some point in the process,” he maintained.

Grebinski was quick to acknowledge that the current situation teachers find themselves in is doubtlessly more challenging and complicated than in years past, including his time as a teacher and administrator before his most recent role as director of education for Prairie Valley School Division.

“That’s just the new reality. As partners in education we need to work together and find ways to accommodate what is happening in our classrooms. There are a lot of needs for teachers to address, and teaching is the only profession that I know of where one person can be looking after 27 to 33 patients or clients [students] at one time. If I go to see my lawyer or doctor, that doesn’t happen. We have to recognize that reality.”

According to Grebinski, in order to address some of the modern-day concerns, it requires getting the right people in the room to deliberate and come to some sort of compromise. “It takes time and you have to authentically hear what everyone is saying, and all parties need to truly understand.”

Grebinski said LEADS members do what they can within their own means. “At the end of the day, our members are in the middle–always,” he shrugged.