As you might very well imagine, the school is absolutely buzzing with activity related to exciting project work. My fingers are still covered in paint as I type this, after having spent time with our set design crew. Seeing your students' ideas come to life as well as listening to their musical performance in both song and instrumentation is such a joy. This is the "why" behind what we do and sometimes being involved shoulder to shoulder with our teachers and kids takes first place over paperwork!
Thank you for trusting in our work with your children. To see the range of learning opportunities provided across K-5 at Eugene Coste is truly inspiring. As a closing note, just a reminder that one of our opera groups is working on a stop-motion lego animation re-telling of the story! This is what personalization of learning is all about- children are offered a chance to work on projects that resonate most for them and that reflect their unique skills and talents!
Andrea Riquelme | Principal
This first week of May marks some important events in
the education world. This week schools across Alberta recognize Education Week and
organizations across Canada recognize Mental Health Week. I have to admit that
I feel a bit sheepish about forgetting about both of these important events and
not including them in the sidebar calendar of this newsletter! It is tough to
keep track of all of the special days or events when life gets busy. This week
was rather pivotal for our school in that we presented our RAM (Resource Allocation Method)
or school budget. If you can recall, we asked all families to share plans for
continuing at Eugene Coste next year as
our budget is dependant on student numbers. Last week we hosted a successful in-person Kindergarten/Grade 1 Open House. New families and those considering
registration were excited to finally enter our building, meet staff and check
out spaces in person. So yes, with all of these important school-based events
happening, we overlooked celebrating two very worthy campaigns. In all fairness, this serves as a reminder to
be gentle and patient with ourselves. It’s ok to make mistakes or to overlook
things sometimes. For us at Eugene Coste, we focus on education and mental
health every day. Lifting up these priorities through public awareness campaigns
is very important and necessary. This serves to highlight the work we do with
your children every day. Strong public education builds strong communities! Strong communities can develop and protect the
resources to provide supports for mental health. It is all connected!
I really do love the Canadian Mental Health
on empathy this year. When we work
with our students to problem solve the conflict, empathy is at the core of our
conversations. Of course, we must approach each discussion by taking into account
the age and developmental stage of the children involved. Many students do require adult coaching to
understand how to take another person’s perspective. We often refer to that as
“thinking about someone else’s feelings”. Empathy is a skill we can all
practice by considering others’ perspectives and thinking about our own
beliefs/feelings before jumping to conclusions. Sometimes we can diffuse a potential conflict
situation between students very quickly by simply teaching children to take a
moment to check in on the other person. An accidental bump is often
misinterpreted as being done “on purpose”. When we coach students to notice
others by saying “Whoops! I’m sorry, are you ok?” many problems are solved
peacefully. A quick check-in is sometimes all that is needed and demonstrates
awareness of others and how they are feeling! We do hope you can reflect on
these ideas at home with your children and reinforce the importance of
approaching others with empathy.
Sra. Andrea Riquelme - Principal
Sra. Jackie Michaud - Assistant Principal
Professional Learning for Staff
Monday, April 18 was a fantastic day for language programs across the CBE. All teachers and administrators of each Spanish Bilingual program joined colleagues in other Bilingual and Immersion schools for a full day of presentations. Our “Future of Languages" symposium was organized by a committee of school and system leaders. Our own AP, Jackie Michaud dedicated extra hours outside of our regular school schedule as a member of the organization committee. Several teachers in our building, including Sra. Jackie and I also led 1hr presentations. Each of our sessions were fully attended and well-received. Topics we covered included:
- Land-Based Learning
(Sra. Riquelme and Sra. Jackie)
- Concept-Based Learning
(Srta. Van Eerden
and Sra. Paisley)
- Learning through Lego (Sr. Gossen and Sra. Jackie)
- ASL and Language Teaching (Srta. Kelsie)
- Culturally Responsive Teaching (Sra. Jordan and Srta. Monica)
- Neurolinguistic Approach discussion session (Srta. Paula and Srta. Monica)
¡Felicidades a nuestro equipo!
NEW OPERA DATES:
June 7 - Dress Rehearsal day
June 8 - Cast A - evening
June 9 - Cast B - evening
Spring Break came and went pretty fast for most of us! I hope that the pause offered families and staff time to take a breath and get ready for the big plans we have coming up at Escuela Eugene Coste.
Yesterday we experienced our first “Opera Wednesday”.
All students from grades two through five were reorganized and grouped in
specific job cohorts led by teachers. As this was our first day, we worked
together for 1 hour to orient ourselves and get ready focus on the variety of
tasks at hand. Job groups and lead teachers include:
Cast (main, ensemble) – Sra. Paisley
Musicians – Srta. Jenn and Srta. Cecilia
Set Design – Sra. Riquelme and Sr. Reyes
Costumes- Sra. Jackie and Sra. Rumel
Backstage / Journalists- Srta. Monica and Srta. Kelsie
Technology and Special Projects- Sr. Gossen and Srta. Van Eerden
The snapshot above capture some of the work we engaged in with the set design and costume crews. Students shared very insightful ideas around the power of visual art and how this can lift a story (or in this case, a libretto) from the page. We also talked about how as visual artists, we reveal all of the great ideas that we have inside of us. I also have to comment on how gratifying it was to see our students collaborate across grade levels, with different teachers. It is school-wide projects such as this that create a sense of community and belonging. Our students are amazing and it certainly showed yesterday! We will continue to share more as the work to bring “Un lugar así" comes to life.
You're invited to our libretto reveal assembly! Please join us for an informal look into the music that will tell the story of “Un lugar así". We will have our second school-wide assembly of the year on Monday April 4 at 10:30am. Calgary Opera artist in residence Esteban will share this original work with us. As this is an informal student-centered experience, there will be limited seating.
We will also reveal our first ever Escuela Eugene Coste school song! I am so excited about this as it was co-written by one of our very special grade 5 students along with Srta. Monica, Srta, Jenn and Srta. Cecilia. Music and language learning are a perfect pairing and we cannot wait to share this amazing song with our community.
Winter is comming...
During my outdoor supervision rounds I notice a range of outdoor wear from bare arms to full snow-suits. As the weather becomes consistently colder, it is important that all students come prepared for the weather. We send children outside for recess or PE activities up to -20C (including windchill). Exposed skin freezes quickly and we want to ensure that your child is protected and safe. Please ensure that your child comes to school with a coat, mitts/gloves, toque and appropriate outdoor footwear.
If students are not dressed appropriately for the weather, we may not let them outside to play. If you need assistance with accessing winter clothing, please let us know. We can find ways to support you.
Eugene Coste Observes Remembrance Day
If you are a regular reader of our weekly newsletters, you may have noticed that I am predictably proud of our staff and students every, single, day. I am especially thrilled when our team is called upon to demonstrate learning even when we are faced with obstacles that require innovation and creativity.
Our longer-term Eugene Coste families might remember the “good old days” when we would invite parents, grandparents and war veteran guests within our families to join us in respectful observance of Remembrance Day. This important Canadian tradition serves to remind us not only of the sacrifices of our service personnel over the last century but also to reinforce the importance of living in a peaceful community.
This year, our talented staff and students put together a virtual service that was recorded and edited into a high-quality video. Here’s a brief program summary:
- Our talented grade 5 student Logan C started the service by playing O Canada on piano.
- Grade 1 students in Sra. Salamanca’s class shared a special Acknowledgment of the land, delivered en español and paired with American Sign Language.
- Students walked us through a read-aloud of the storybook “What Does Peace Feel Like?” and shared images of student artwork accompanied by a piano rendition of “Imagine” by John Lennon.
- This was followed by a reading of “In Flander’s Fields”
- Grade 4/5 students then interviewed acclaimed athlete, veteran, double-amputee and friend of Srta. Jenn, Corporal Mark Fuchko. To learn more about this incredible Canadian, you can check out his profile in Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame: http://canadasports150.ca/en/sport-veterans/mark-fuchko/112
- Our service concluded with one minute of silence followed by The Last Post.
If technology cooperates with us, we will post this video to our website so that it can be viewed at home. We’ll follow up with a separate note if it works (fingers crossed!).
Indigenous Education Professional Learning Day – October 18, 2021
Our entire staff (teachers and support staff) enjoyed a meaningful day of learning. We deeply appreciate the gift of time together.
The keynote speakers -Tomas Jirousek- Kainai and Dr. Pam Toulouse- Cree/Anishinaabe-kwe – stimulated subsequent discussions amongst our staff. Key highlights included:
- Cultural sensitivity –being careful not to single out our indigenous learners
- Value of western and traditional forms of education – each has their own gifts and resonates differently for each learner
- Setting high expectations for all students – the narrative of difficult experiences and history is very real. We should not let this weigh down student potential.
- Indigenous people know Indigenous issues. Non-Indigenous people can participate in reconciliation by being allies or accomplices- not saviours.
- Avoiding truths or repeating misconceptions is a reflection of privilege. Do not be a "perfect strangers" or "perfect trolls".
- Mistakes will be made; this is a learning process for everyone
Land-based learning provides opportunities for all learners to achieve success and teaches children how to notice, ask questions and form observations. This not only helps to develop the practice of mindfulness, but also leads students through the beginning of scientific inquiry and critical thinking. Our staff members spent the balance of the day at Votier’s Flats in Fish Creek Park, with teaching led by Sr. Andy Gossen, Sra. Jackie and myself!
Sra. Andrea Riquelme
Principal, Escuela Eugene Coste
Our entire staff (teachers and support staff) are looking forward to a special day of community building through learning as together, we work to improve outcomes for Indigenous students and foster Reconciliation through education. As your principal, my role is to facilitate this day of learning in a way that is reflective of our unique context. All schools will have the opportunity to view keynote messages from Tomas Jirousek and Dr. Pamela Toulouse followed by time for reflection and discussion. Our staff will then take our learning outside to Fish Creek Park and we will model land-based learning and teaching to deepen our collective understanding of this process.
Land-based learning provides opportunities for all learners to achieve success and teaches children how to notice, ask questions and form observations. This not only helps to develop the practice of mindfulness, but also leads students through the beginning of scientific inquiry and critical thinking.
The Holistic Lifelong Learning Framework is a flexible tool that teachers and leaders have been using to reflect on our own practices and to plan mindfully for next steps. At Escuela Eugene Coste, I have invited our team to consider how we can use this framework to enhance our Bilingual Program. A simple entry point for our students is to invite them into personal reflection about their learning beginning in the east and then moving clockwise with the sun:
Spirit- Espíritu Yo soy …
Heart- Corazón Yo pertenezco… Mi comunidad …
Body- Cuerpo Yo puedo ….
Mind- Mente Yo pienso …. Yo sé …
Chief Justice Murray Sinclair offered the following reflective questions to help guide this process further.
East – Where do I come from?
South- Where am I going?
West- Why am I hear?
North- Who am I?
This is a long-term process that will enable community and systemic change. We are honored to facilitate this learning for our staff and students. If you are able, I invite you to take your children out on the land on Monday. Take some time to sit and observe. Walk together and notice changes in the season and how this impacts plants, animals, water, light and shadows in the environment.
Sra. Andrea Riquelme
Principal, Escuela Eugene Coste
Let's Create an Opera-Update
On Monday our students and teachers had the opportunity to work with a professional storyteller, Mera, who will support our school in putting together our ideas and vision into a cohesive story. All classes rotated through mini-lessons in our Learning Commons. Mera led the group through a collaborative story-telling session which she enhanced with drumming and song. Our intention is to write a long-form Acknowledgement of the Land that students will be able to share through storytelling, singing and movement. This is a generative project, which means, we are designing it collaboratively, leaning heavily on student voice, with adult guidance. In the coming weeks, Mera will continue to work with each class and alongside our teachers. Mera is originally from Mexico, so this also provides our students with another opportunity to practice their oral language skills within an authentic experience.
I find it so important that our students, even at a young age, understand the amount of preparation that goes into creating a final product. This is authentic, real-life work! We will continue to keep you posted on our progress.
Sra. Andrea Riquelme
Principal, Escuela Eugene Coste
Truth and Reconciliation Week draws
to a close today. Our students have engaged in thoughtful learning experiences
with their teachers this week, in ways that are developmentally appropriate. I
was particularly moved by the work in our Kindergarten classrooms. After
listening to pictue books (an example is “Phyllis’ Orange Shirt) read aloud by teachers, students were invited
to think about what schools should feel like. Children identified words such as
loved, happy and safe.
This underscores what drives us in our work and that the erroneous actions of the past must be acknowledged and remembered, so that they are not repeated today, or in the future. Yesterday schools across the city were closed so that families and children could take time to reflect on the meaning of reconciliation and actions that we can all take. The intent is to move towards better outcomes for our indigenous students and families through recognition and education. Many of our teachers participated in public ceremonies or took individual action such as listening to/viewing broadcasts and taking up professional reading to further their own development.
I carved out a little bit of time to go for a walk in Brown Lowery Provincial Park. Families were out with their children and many of these children were wearing orange shirts. My sons and I had a conversation about what they discussed in their classes at school. My eldest asked if this was even going to make a difference. I told him that the simple fact that he and other students can engage in conversations about residential schools and know that they existed is evidence of change. I reminded him that as a young student here in Alberta, it was not something that I understood or was directly taught. Change and improvement take time, and it is encouraging to see that greater awareness is being achieved in our society.
Sra. Andrea Riquelme
Principal, Escuela Eugene Coste
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