Students and staff are settling nicely into the routines and rhythm of the new school year. Our first few weeks of school have been quite exciting as we welcomed 550 students to the school community. Teachers have been busy building connections to the land and community as we begin our journey together into a new school year. We are excited to see our learners moving towards a year of normalcy and joy in a way that they have not experienced since before the pandemic. During the first month of school the goal has been for teachers and students to get to know each other. At all grade levels, teachers focused on learning activities that were intended to build student self - awareness and understanding of others as a way to build classroom communities that foster a sense of belonging for every child.
At our System Meeting for Administrators on September 14, our Chief Superintendent, Christopher Usih, focused on the importance to students in having a sense of belonging at school. He shared the research that has shown that academic outcomes correlate strongly with students’ self-reported level of school belonging. Belonging is a central tenet of inclusionary education and, as a school community, developing a sense of belonging is explicit within our wellness goal in our School Development Plan. I am pleased to report that the results of our spring 2022 Alberta Education Assurance Survey indicate that 100 % of the 82 grade 4 students who responded to the survey indicated that “they feel welcome at school” and 95% reported that “they feel like they belong.” The results of the 2022 survey speak to the focus of the developmental work over the years at MTS that continues in importance as our population grows, changes, and evolves.
The staffing process continues into the fall as we have both said goodbye and welcomed new staff to MTS. We have been pleased to welcome Mrs. Herta Siarkiewicz to our school as we were able to add an additional grade 3 class due to an increase in enrolment. Thank you to the parents who agreed to have their children move to the new class, which has reduced the class size numbers in grade 3. We bid farewell to Mrs. Liz Hrycan, teacher in the EES program, and have welcomed Mrs. Swapna Bhagat Luthra to the EES team. Mrs. Luthra brings a strong background in Special Education to the students in the program. We were very sad to say farewell to Mrs. Jennifer Croteau who has been at the school for 6 years as Lead in the lunchroom program. We wish Mrs. Croteau well in her new adventures and know that she will be successful in her new job. She will be missed by students and staff.
Terry Fox Run
September 21 marked the day for our annual Terry Fox Run that is intended to raise awareness and funds in support of cancer research. Through the generosity of the community, the school raised almost $2,000. As always, MTS families, showed their care and kindness for others in supporting this cause. The children were delighted to see that having surpassed our fund-raising goal, Mr. Van Sluys, our 6 ft. 4 inch P.E. teacher carried out his promise to wear a tutu for a full day at school. He demonstrated that he is a great sport as he had students chuckling and giggling at him all day! This year, in solidarity with Mr. V. students were invited to don a tutu for the day and join in the fun.
Orange Shirt Day
Students spent time reflecting on the meaning of Orange Shirt Day during the week of September 26-30. They learned a Land Acknowledgement with actions as well as a song “The Children’s Blessing” which the entire school community sang at our Orange Shirt Day assembly on Thursday, September 29.
Teachers accessed the school’s collection of Indigenous picture books to serve as a springboard for conversation and learning activities. For example, the grade one classes read the picture book called “My Suitcase: Nii Sookayis” by author Christina Fox (iitsisaanoowa). Students were very interested to learn a few Blackfoot words from the story. The main character in the story tells about her time at a school far away from her traditions and family. Students talked about how this would feel. They made a list of things they could do to make others feel like they matter. They created mini orange shirts on orange paper and wrote a way that would show others they matter at our school. Other age-appropriate activities related to Indigenous ways of knowing and cultural significance took place in all classrooms
The week culminated with the whole school assembly where students heard a story about the history of Orange Shirt Day. Back in their classrooms, they talked about words that describe how they feel at MTS. All students joined in a feather project in which each child created a unique feather with a word to show how they feel at MTS. The feathers are proudly displayed in our front hallway for everyone to admire and to feel a part of in terms of their individual contribution.
Responding to the prompt, I FEEL…at MTS, some of the words that students inscribed on their feather included: strong, welcome, grateful, happy, calm, brave, visible, proud, safe, loved, positive, curious, respected, joyful, brave, protected, special.
Toys at School- No!
We would like to remind parents that it is not advisable for children to bring toys to school. Toys are a diversion from the focus on learning at school, and can become an issue/conflict if they are lost or taken by another child. We encourage our students to be active during their recess and lunch breaks and to engage with the physical activity resources that are available at the school such as basketballs and soccer balls, Please note that trading cards such as POKEMON are not allowed at the school, outside at recess or lunch, or on the bus.
Dogs on School Grounds
We would like to thank our dog owners who are walking their dogs to school on a leash and saying their goodbyes from the sidewalk or school ground boundaries. It is sometimes hard to understand that our beloved companions could be intimidating to anyone, but children who are not familiar with pets, often are fearful. As well, city bylaws exist that do not allow dogs on school grounds. Thank you so much for your cooperation.
The month of October will hold with many exciting events and learning opportunities. I encourage you to keep up to date with events at the school by checking our website and teacher blogs and through updates provided via School Messenger.
I look forward to continuing to get to know our students and parents over the year. My greatest joy is to be able to be back in classrooms working with students and teachers.
Dr. Lorraine Slater,