Apr 14
April 14, 2020

Over the course of the last few weeks, schools, literally across the world, have been forced to reinvent the ways in which teaching and learning will occur over the next little while.  McKenzie Highlands has been no exception to this new reality.  I know I speak for our entire staff when I say the hardest part of this is not seeing “our kids” every day.   

 We have, as have all schools across the Calgary Board of Education, moved to a model of on-going learning that primarily utilizes technological platforms to support students in their learning during this time.  The primary modes of technology connecting students, families, and teachers are D2L, Google virtual meeting apps, and email.  I thank our students and families for their patience and understanding as we work to take up this challenge.  I thank our staff for the enormous time, effort, and care they have extended in taking up this challenge!

 As mandated by Alberta Education, students in grades 4-6 are to receive an average of 5 hours per week of task work in Language Arts and Math, with opportunities for Science and Social Studies to be integrated into LA and Math where appropriate.  This translates into approximately 2.5 hours per subject, per week.  Students in grades 7-9 are to receive an average of 10 hours per week of task work in Language Arts, Math, Science, and Social Studies, again translating into approximately 2.5 hours per subject, per week.

 Learning tasks are uploaded to D2L shells for the week by 8:30 a.m. on Mondays, with an expectation that students will complete the work by the following Friday.  In addition to tasks being uploaded to D2L and students submitting their work via D2L, a number of teachers are also using Google Meet apps to facilitate virtual face to face contact with their students.  Some of these virtual classroom meetings involve teachers teaching lessons, conducting tutorials, facilitating classroom discussions, holding class meetings, and answering student questions.  Teachers also have formal “office hours” posted during which students can virtually, either through Google meetings, phone calls, or emails, connect with teachers for further instruction, clarification, and support in completing tasks.  By no means are students limited to only accessing teacher support during these formal office hours.  Students and families are encouraged, when needing clarity and support, to connect with teachers via email.

 We now enter our third week of this new on-going learning model.  The first week was certainly experimental.  The second week likely involved students and their families finding a “rhythm” in which to approach their learning.  It is my hope during this third week that the rhythm becomes routine as students develop a schedule to best support their learning and capitalize on opportunities for teacher support.  Teachers will be closely monitoring submission of student work and will certainly connect with families should there be concern about the quantity and/or quality of work being submitted.  Parents, if you are finding it difficult to have your child commit to a scheduled routine, please don’t hesitate to contact your child’s teachers so that we can problem-solve together.

 Although we are very focused at this time on creatively supporting students to get through this immediate time, we are still taking up our work of planning for next year.  One of those important pieces involves placing students in their complementary or “option” classes for next year.   Students were given the opportunity, beginning a couple of weeks ago, to select those classes.  We still have a number of students in grades 6, 7, and 8 who have not yet made their selections.  I ask parents to please check in with their children and see if they have completed their selections and if not, please ensure they finish doing so by the end of this week.  This process is completed online in PowerSchool.  If your child is experiencing any difficulty with this process please don’t hesitate to call the office and speak with Mr. Cooper, or email Mr. Cooper at dgcooper@cbe.ab.ca.  Students who do not complete their selections may find that they are placed in complementary classes where there is space remaining available.

 As you are now all aware, our assistant principal, Ms. Tania Brown, has left our school community in order to take up her new role as principal of Annie Foote School.  We say goodbye to her with the most mixed of emotions.  She is very deserving of this appointment and will make an exceptionally outstanding principal.  However, we are selfishly sad for ourselves as we will miss her incredible work ethic, vast knowledge, deep compassion, and wonderful sense of humour.  Every day, over the course of the last three years, she came to work committed to making the world better for students, their families, teachers, and this principal.  Thank you!  We wish her the absolute best in her new endeavour!

 In the interim, Mr. Danny Cooper, one of our Learning Leaders, has stepped into the role of acting assistant principal.  I thank Mr. Cooper for taking on this added responsibility, particularly during this terribly challenging time.  Over the course of the next couple of weeks a new assistant principal will be selected and begin their duties, tentatively, following the May long weekend.

 Please continue to take care of yourselves and your families and never hesitate to contact your child’s teachers or myself in the event you are feeling in need of support.


Take care,

Kel Connelly


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