Dear Parents & Guardians,
Thank you to the many parents who joined the school council meeting on Tuesday night to hear information about the Annual School Results Report. This report in its entirety is posted on our school website. This was the last school council meeting of 2020.
I'm sure you have heard that students will be participating in online learning for the week of January 4-8, 2021. All students have been practicing to log into their Google classroom. I suggest you try it from home prior to the winter break. Doing it now and overcoming any tech challenges that may surface will be easier resolved now than on January 4th, 2021.
Dear Parents & Guardians,
As of yesterday, CWS still has not had a positive COVID-19 case. Hallelujah!
Students tell me that they are only inviting two of their best friends to their birthday party in order to 'be safe'. I think that is responsible. Big birthday parties should be on hold until we are 'back to normal'. Inviting a whole class, at this point in time, could potentially infect everyone in that class. Avoiding big spreader events like that will help CWS to make it through the year. Thank you for your support in this.
The week of November 16-20 has been the Bullying Awareness Week. How is bullying different from a single conflict? Bulling is defined as a form or repeated, persistent and aggressive behaviour directed at an individual or individuals that is intended to cause fear and distress and/or harm to another person's body, feelings, self-esteem or reputation. Bullying occurs in a context where there is a real or perceived power imbalance. At CWS, every adult works diligently at establishing healthy relationships and welcoming classrooms for all students. In case of conflict arising during recess, adults deal with them immediately. I mentioned last week, the number of incidents have been drastically reduced this year because each child is able to play with recess equipment. In case your child does come home and shares with you that s/he is being bullied at school, please ask them to describe specific situations and – reach out to myself. I can only support your child, when I'm aware of what is happening. In case of emergencies, the Bullying Helpline (1-888-456-2323) is available 24/7 and offers help in more than 170 languages. Online chats and calls to the helpline are anonymous.
Dear Parents & Guardians,
On Tuesday, CWS students, jointly with PFS students, attended the virtual Remembrance Day assembly. Thank you to Ms. Lemke, our liaison, who helped organize and plan this virtual assembly with PFS. Students of both schools had created artwork that is displayed in the gym – students from both schools can see and admire it during gym time.
In June 2020, we bought each class a ‘recess bucket’. Each bucket is filled with jumping ropes, basketballs, soccer balls, soft balls, hula-hoops and Frisbees. Each class has a different colour for their equipment. Students sign out the equipment and are responsible for its return. Since September, I’ve been watching students use all of this equipment extensively. The balls, hula-hoops and Frisbees are favourites. It has been delightful to watch some of the kids play Frisbee at recess and lunch and to watch them improve their skills over the past 10 weeks. Early in September, they could barely throw/catch the Frisbee. Now, their skills are much improved. It is noteworthy that incidents at recess and lunch have declined dramatically as they are all playing with equipment they like! Excellent news!
Thank you for all the donations for the Alexander Centre Society Christmas Hamper that have been dropped off already.
Dear Parents & Guardians,
The month of November is always a time to reflect on how fortunate we are to live in a free country. A country where men and women can vote, drive cars, go to school, go to university, enjoy health care, practice their own individual faith and simply “be who they are”.
This year marks the 102nd anniversary of the armistice of WW 1, the war to end all wars. As we know, it was not the war to end all wars; only 22 years later, WW2 started. Mothers, who lost husbands in the first war, often lost sons in the second war. Let us take a moment to discuss with our children the reasons why a nation, a country, needs an army and why a country decides to go to war or to support another nation during war times.
G.K. Chesterton once said: “There never was a good war, or a bad peace. The tragedy of war is that it uses man's best to do man's worst. The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him. The act of war is the last option of a democracy.”
As a mother of two sons, I pray that I will never have to see them dressed in battle gear ready to go to war. The thought alone brings tears to my eyes. I would like to thank all of our parents, grandparents and CWS friends who work or have worked to serve and protect our country.
Dear Parents & Guardians,
Thank you to Ms. Pelletier who joined the school council meeting this month and shared how the morning kindergarten is structured, and what she is doing in FSL. French as a Second Language is taught now four times a week for 40 minute blocks each to all Grade 4-6 students, which makes CWS officially a school with FSL according to Alberta Education guidelines. I am curious to see if any of our Grade 6 students will choose Late French Immersion for Grade 7 at Elboya School!
In Canada, having French as a second language, opens many doors in regards to government jobs, post secondary scholarships and, of course, work abroad. Having and creating as many options as possible for our students down the line, is important to me. How can we raise international citizens, if we only speak one language? Language learning is so much MORE than just language learning: You learn about the French & Quebec culture, your brain learns to associate different words to the same ‘thing’ and, as you start to learn a third or fourth language, you start to see similarities in word roots, as many German/French/English words have similar roots in Latin or French and some words, are, surprise: the same! Example: die Revolution (German) la révolution (French), the revolution.
If you think that it is difficult to remember le/la for French nouns (instead of a simple ‘the’ in English), German has three articles : der, die, das. And an ‘a’ in English can be ‘ein, eine, eines, einer, einen, einem’ in German. Confusing ? Yes, very. German children spend considerable amounts of time learning proper grammar. Language learning creates a brain that is always looking for patterns and is automatically problem-solving.
The online ‘parade’ for Halloween was great fun to watch. Thank you, Ms. Lemke for organizing it. I enjoyed seeing all the kids dressed up – and wearing a mask seemed always possible, too.
Caught you Caring is Back!
This month’s theme is “Caught you caring being kind”
Charlotte in Room 16 wiped down the desks without being asked.
Finn in Room 16 cleaned the sink.
Sloane in Room 14 cleaned up the kitchen centre.
Sam in Room 12 helped a friend with spelling
Wren in Room 12 was the scribe for a friend of hers.
Joseph Room 15 asked a peer to play at recess with him.
Meike Thomsen, Principal
Dear Parents & Guardians,
some of you may know that I was ill for most of this week and last Friday. A sore throat/sinus infection with an added bad cough had me at home and in bed. I signed up for the COVID-19 test at 5:00 AM on Friday morning and got tested the same day. I was notified of my (negative) result 72 hrs later, but, with my cough still going strong, I had to stay home for a couple more days and work from home. It was good to return to school on Thursday! This is the first time in my career that I was not in school for these many days in a row. Typically, I would take medications and 'tough it out'; not so now. Throughout the days at home, I was blessed with my sons checking in on me and friends delivering home cooked meals. I can’t tell you how relieved I was once I got my negative result back!
I don't know about you, but when I'm sick in bed, I sometimes feel a little philosophical. Dr. Jody Carrington, who uses colorful language to a degree that I personally don't appreciate, is, nevertheless, an excellent speaker, and she does typically make some points that hit home for me. This Sunday, she started her session with a quote from Ralph Waldow Emerson who said: "The purpose of life is not to be happy. It's to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well." She challenges each and everyone of us to think about our PURPOSE, our WHY. Once we find our purpose, it will make us passionate in pursuing our purpose (not the other way around).
So, when someone asks me WHY did you become a teacher/educator? What is your PURPOSE, Meike? Then my answer is this: In elementary school, I had such bad teachers, that I hated school by the time I was 9 years old. The 2 teachers I'd had up to that point had been mean, played favourites, and ruled by instilling fear in children. One still had a long stick standing in the corner. Because I hated school, I was bad at it. I needed a tutor in math (funny, right?!), German and English. Some of my tutors were so bad, that I promised my parents: “I’ll do it alone! Just don’t make me go there any more!” Thankfully, once in grade 5 and onward, I met some amazing teachers who inspired me, so by the time I was in grade 7, I was doing well. I became a teacher because I wanted to make sure children could have better experiences at school. My PURPOSE each and every day is to provide children with a place they want to come to, a place they feel safe at, seen, heard, supported and, yes, academically challenged, too! I want each student to feel that they matter not only to their teacher, but to all staff at CWS. To facilitate this, I try to have a personal conversation with at least three students each day whether that be in the hallway or during recess supervision outside.
What is YOUR purpose in life? Have you talked with your children about it? Feel free to share!
As COVID-19 cases mount in Calgary and more and more schools are experiencing positive cases, we are grateful that you keep your children home when unwell. Together, we can make it through these unprecedented times.
Meike Thomsen, Principal
Our chief superintended Christopher Usih is visiting our school on Monday, October 19.
I am looking forward to discuss CWS with him.
The Grade 4, 5 and 6 completed the survey OurSchool this week. The grade 6 students met three questions that had them stumped. These questions involved their parents – you! The questions were: did your mom/dad/step-parents finish high school? Did you attend a college/trade school? Did you earn a bachelor degree? I was very surprised to find out that most students did NOT know the answer to these questions. When I asked, I got replies like: My dad fixes stuff/My mom goes to work and comes back home/My mom helps people.
I encourage you, over dinner, to speak with your child/ren about your education, your educational journey and your job! It is important for them to hear about your journey – including the struggles you may have faced and how you overcame them. Life is messy and kids need to know that that is ok.
This week, I spent Tuesday and Wednesday morning covering the kindergarten class. We worked on their usual centres, but they also learned about Brain Gym and how to ‘light up’ their brain. Excellent activities for any student (and also adults!). Go and check it out!
Thanksgiving is around the corner. It is an important habit to reflect together with children on all the things we can, and should be, thankful for. While many of us are fortunate enough not to have to worry about daily things like food, shelter and clothing, it is important to remember that we need to be thankful for them. The year of 2020 has seen the most health issues my parents, as a couple, have ever faced together: My mom needed a mastectomy of her left breast after surviving breast cancer in 1998 on the other side. She is well again, but each time we speak, I'm grateful for still having my mom in my life. My father who has been the strongest, fittest man I know, suddenly hurt all over in January, hence didn't want to move any longer. Because he didn't want to get up again, I booked a flight for spring break to give him a reason to 'get up again'. We all know that I never got to get on that flight. He's had two surgeries up to now and the doctors still don't know what is causing his white blood cell count to be so incredibly high – where the source of the infection is.
I have once read: If you are healthy, you wish for so many THINGS. If you are sick, you only wish for one thing: your HEALTH. As you come together with your families this weekend, I encourage you to take the time to share with each other what you are thankful for. Also share with everyone why they are important to you. We get so very busy at times, that we forget to share the most important thing: You matter to me. My life is better because you are in it. You always support me by ….
I'm thankful for my parents still being with us. My sons, their spouses and little Alina. I'm thankful to call CWS my 'home' that has no busses, small class sizes, large class rooms, and a sink in each class with a wonderful staff and an incredibly supportive parent community. Thank you!
Supporting student well-being for learning means that we intentionally incorporate the following into our daily time that we spend with students:
- Use of daily check ins (typically at the door when students walk in first thing in the morning/after recess/after lunch)
- Ensuring students know expectations during transition times
- Relationship building activities
- Personal 1on1 time to connect
- Personalized learning
- Humor, celebrating strengths, class events
- Firm but fair boundaries with clear and consistent expectations
- Predictable routines
- Increased physical literacy and movement opportunities
- Use of common language
- Creating engaging and meaningful learning experiences
Dear parents, many of these also apply to your life at home with your child/ren. If you have more than one child, try to schedule individual ‘special’ times with each of them sometimes. Children treasure time spent with just one parent. The most important one: have few but consistently enforced rules & expectations at home. Having 20 rules and none that ‘stick’ is not helpful. Having three that are always enforced is much better. Children will test your boundaries most days – and feel safe when your expectations remain the same!!!
Predictable routines also help your child/ren feel safe/reduces anxiety. Knowing that there is a little play time when coming home, followed by dinner, followed by playtime outside/inside, followed by taking a bath, brushing teeth and being read to/sung to when going to bed (or reading together) and cuddling up for five minutes.
As many of you know, I grew up in a hamlet, farming. How small was that hamlet? It had one road that led through it, maybe 40 people. While I was little, it was great fun to run wild: through the forest, the fields, the grass, swim in the lake, play in the river. And, how could I forget, chores! As I got older though, I realized that I really, really wanted a different lifestyle. Education was one way to change my life. Moreover, my father was born one year before WW2 broke out. He started school just before the war ended and many, many refugees lived in the area. The story I grew up with was: One refugee had been a city magistrate in Prussia prior to the war. A very educated man. Very poor in the 1940s. But: when life went back to normal after the war, within 5 years, he was back in city administration. His education gave him a new start in a new part of the country. So when Oprah Winfrey says:" Education is the key to unlocking the world, a passport to freedom." I agree with her. If you want to change your life, then you need to learn as much as you can.
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