Welcome back to McKenzie Towne School! We were thrilled to see our students again in school. Thank you for your patience and support throughout our entry planning and messaging to you. We had a smooth and calm return to school with our staggered entry and are working to learn new protocols to keep us all safe and healthy.
The first few days with students are crucial in setting the tone for the rest of the year. As a staff we spent time before students started discussing how as a group of teachers we can continue to build a classroom and school community that is grounded in the McKenzie Towne School core values of Relationships, Respect, Belonging, Caring and Learning. In particular, as a staff our conversation has included the challenges of building relationships with students and each other while maintaining physical distance and masks.
We welcome Mrs. Tracey Burch to MTS. Tracey is an experienced teacher who joins the grade 2 team. Sarah Lambert continues on maternity/parental leave and we are fortunate to have Kal Geraghty remain in the grade one position in her absence. As well, our front office “face" this year includes Office Assistant Karen Perry who joins Tara Robinson who last spring moved into the Administrative Secretary role in the office.
To minimize the number of students entering the building at one time, we have a soft entry process. Doors are opened at 7:45 and locked at 8:00. During this 15 minute interval, students will be greeted at the entrance door by a teacher in the grade team who will supervise students to maintain physical distance, don masks, sanitize hands, and direct students to their classrooms. The bell will ring outside at 8:00. If your child arrives at school past that time, please have them enter through the front door. We are trying very hard to keep everyone safe. Please make an effort to arrive on time to avoid large numbers entering through the front door in the morning. Use of the front door is only for students who arrive at school after the bell. A reminder that the Hug 'n Go zone is a drop off area for parents and not a parking zone. Please obey the signage at the zone to facilitate all parents who want to use the zone to drop off their children. A reminder that there is no stopping in the bus zone in front of the school. The zone is monitored by the Calgary Police who will be issuing tickets for violation within the zone.
It is also very important to have a designated meeting spot for 2:36 pick up times Monday – Thursday and 12:00 on Fridays. All students in grades 1-4 will be dismissed from their exit doors and are to go immediately to the meeting spots that they have identified with their families. Please ensure you have not chosen a meeting place in the school parking lot. Kindergarten is the only age group where teachers will wait for a parent to arrive before dismissing students. All students have been taught in class, that if they get to their meeting spot and there is no one there to pick them up, after waiting a few minutes, they are to come to the office through the front entrance of the school for help. Please note that parents are requested to remain in the outer foyer of the office NOT to enter the front office to drop off items or pick up with their child. The staff will ensure that your child enters/exits safely and is taken to his/her classroom.
HUB Online Learning
Our school has over 50 students who are registered in the HUB online learning. In order to accommodate the HUB online learning at our school we were required to have one teacher transition to the online environment in order to meet the needs of students registered in that program. Mrs. Braun, our Technology Learning Leader will move to an assignment as the grade 2 HUB teacher. Mrs. Braun brings her expertise and strong skill-set in technology to this assignment while maintaining her placement at and connection to MTS. Accordingly her reassignment to HUB teaching has required a reorganization of our six grade 2 classes into five in-person classes at the school. This has meant a change of teacher for some of the grade 2 students. Families and children impacted by the change in classroom teachers have been notified. The class size in grade 2 remains at 22/23 in each class. We are pleased that the overall in-school enrolment number in grade 2 enabled us to complete the required reorganization of classes without a significant increase in class size and in a manner that is least disruptive to students at this early start-up time of the school year.
Open, continuous communication is of utmost importance throughout the school year. Classroom teachers will use the following methods to communicate learning, updates:
· Classroom Blogs – (classroom teachers will provide blog posts every Friday beginning September 11/20)
· Phone Calls
Communication from the school will include:
· School Website – will highlight events occurring at the school
· Administration Monthly Message on website
· Email, phone calls, School messenger
· In person meetings, previously arranged with administration
Over the last several weeks there has been considerable information that has been provided to parents both through the CBE and MTS website as well as through School Messenger. The information can be overwhelming to process. If you require clarification, please do not hesitate to call the school and speak to the office staff regarding questions that you may have related to operations within the school. Please address concerns you may have about your child and his/her learning to their classroom teacher through email of phone call. When additional support is required in a situation the administration will be involved.
Thank you for holding fast in your support of our school community through this challenging time. We appreciate your positive comments and feedback as well as your suggestions and questions for improvement.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the McKenzie Towne Church for providing our school staff with a delicious pizza lunch on the first full day back at school, September 8. What a treat for staff – including not having to pack a lunch on that first busy day. McKenzie Towne is such a caring community which our school is proud to be a part of and contribute to!
Wishing all of us a healthy and happy month of September!
Dr. Lorraine Slater
A Fond Farewell
As the 2019-20 school year draws to a close, it is with much sadness that we have to say goodbye to everyone without seeing the faces of our students and families. Clearly this is not the way we would like to end the school year.
After 3 months of ongoing learning, I want to express my gratitude to students, parents and teachers for remaining as engaged and focused as possible. I appreciate that this time has been difficult for many, uncertainty remains, and everyone is hoping for a successful return to ‘normal’ school operations in the fall.
The Alberta Government has released its guidance and more detailed scenario information for reopening and will announce on August 1st which path will be selected for September 1st. This information can be found at: https://www.alberta.ca/k-to-12-school-re-entry-2020-21-school-year.aspx
The scenarios presented vary from one in which school will resume with full student participation in classes with continued attention being paid to keeping the school building clean, using social distancing strategies where possible and with some limitations on activities in larger groups. The second scenario includes students attending school in smaller cohort groups or alternating days. The third scenario would be a continuation of ongoing learning at home with some expansion of expectations in terms of the number of hours weekly for school activities and assignments.
McKenzie Towne School (like all schools in the CBE) is working on re-entry plans that are suitable and adaptable for each possible scenario when school returns in the fall.
As you have been informed, on June 26 you can access your child’s report card online through MyCBE/PowerSchool account at: https://www.cbe.ab.ca/support/Documents/MyCBE-accessing-online-report-card.pdf
Appeals day is Monday, June 29 from 8:00am-12:00pm. This is your opportunity to contact your child’s teacher by email to ask them any questions you have about the report card.
Farewell to Staff:
We would like to say a fond farewell to Mrs. Joan Klym who has decided to move into the next exciting phase of her life- retirement. Mrs. Klym has been a much loved and respected teacher at MTS for the past 8 years. She has touched the lives of many students and families at our school and she will be greatly missed. We wish her every happiness as she takes up residence in her new home on Vancouver Island. She can expect a few visitors!
As we work on finalizing our staffing plans, we will provide full information on the 2020-21 MTS staff in our first communication to you in the new year.
As always, we thank you for working in partnership with school staff, and hope that your family is keeping safe and well. We wish you a wonderful, relaxing summer and look forward to reuniting with you in the fall.
Dr. Lorraine Slater
May Brings Flowers and Hope
To the MTS Community,
I trust this message finds everyone well and safe. The month of May brings a new awakening of flowers, green grass, and with this new brightness the hope that our difficult times will end soon. As we navigate through our challenging pandemic that impacts families, school, work life, and every facet of every day living, it is important to hold steadfast in our belief that we will get through this together, and it will, in time, end. Hope keeps us moving forward one step at a time with each new day bringing us closer to being able to once again connect with each other and return to normalcy.
School has been different and in many ways a difficult adjustment for all. As we chart new forums in online learning we have both appreciated your patience as we figure things out and we thank you for your support of the process in your own learning and that of your children. Our understanding and expertise in the online setting is developing, but we know that we will not be able to replicate the authenticity of real, face-to-face education in schools. I am proud of our staff, students, and you, parents and guardians for doing whatever is possible to make learning continue to happen for our students.
As we work through the rest of this school year, we have also begun the planning for 2020-21. Our planning includes amongst other things, resource allocation, staffing, and class organization for next year. Please know that as a staff of teachers and administrators, we engage in a very thorough process in assigning students to classes that involves a multiplicity of variables. Our dedication and thoughtfulness will again be brought to the assignment of students to classes over the next two months as we plan for the new school year. We cannot honour requests for specific teachers but please know that you may contact administration if there are issues/concerns that you would like us to consider in the organization of classes related specifically to your child. Since class lists change over the summer, we will not be releasing the class organization until the first day of return to school- hopefully in September 2020!
Once again, thank you for standing together beside us and with us in these difficult times. We miss all of you very much and can hardly wait until we can be together again.
Dr. Lorrraine Slater,
Principal, McKenzie Towne School
Principal’s Message- Moving Forward to the Home Stretch
As we move into the month of March, anticipate spring break, and look forward to warm sunny days, we also realize that the academic school year has gone by very quickly. March is a busy, short month with parent conferences on March 19 from 8:00 am – 1:00 pm and 4:00- 8:00pm. Parents are asked to book an individual 15 minute conference time with the teacher through their CBE account beginning on March 14. The conference is the opportunity for parents to meet with their child’s teacher in conversation about their child’s learning. Students may be a part of the conference and will have the opportunity to show and talk with their parent and teacher about their learning and work. Parents may also wish to reserve a time to talk with the specialist teachers, Ms. Cotton- Music, Mr. Van Sluys- PE and Mrs. Bitz- Resource.
Friday March 20 is a non-instructional day for students while teachers will be planning for the spring term.
Our gymnastics education unit will be starting at McKenzie Towne School on Monday, March 2th to March 18th. We are fortunate to have a variety of equipment that has been purchased through parent fund-raising efforts. Throughout the year, during physical education classes, teachers have worked to provide students with a variety of experiences to establish safety routines and promote cooperation and good sportsmanship. Within all of our units, the children have had many opportunities to develop their individual skill level, share their accomplishments and experience the satisfaction of teamwork in a safe environment. Within the gymnastics unit of instruction, the following expectations and guidelines will be in place to ensure student safety:
1. No jewelry, loose clothing, skirts or dresses. No belts.
2. Bare feet, running shoes or gymnastics slippers are acceptable.
3. Tie back long hair.
4. Students work independently or in small groups QUIETLY to minimize distraction and optimize focused movement
5. Children do what they are comfortable doing. No showing off or daring is allowed.
6. Although some students have had private gymnastics training, there will be no aerial stunts such as dive rolls, aerial somersaults (flips), head springs or hand springs as these activities are not part of the prescribed gymnastics curriculum.
Remember to check the lost and found. Items
left unclaimed before spring break will be
sent to charity.
I look forward to meeting and talking with you at the school during these and other events. As parents, you are the fibre that holds our school together and that makes our school community strong.
I hope that everyone has a relaxing spring break!
Dr. Lorraine Slater
The return to school after the winter break is exciting for students and teachers as we
begin a new calendar year. As we survive the chill of January and with the winter
holidays a distant memory, we are busy planning and looking forward to the rest of
the school year. The month of February marks the half way point in the school year.
We have returned to school excited about the possibilities of what is yet to come. We
hope that you feel that same excitement and see and feel the energy as you talk with
your children about school. Thank you for your attendance at the important
parent/teacher conferences in December. Parents have provided the school with
positive feedback around the timing of the first report card that went home on
December 19, 2019
The months of January and February will be very busy with many school activities.
Information on these events is contained on our website and in teachers’ blogs. It will
be an exciting 2 months and we invite you to join us at the school as you continue to
volunteer in classrooms, field trips, and support the school in a myriad of ways.
Kindergarten registration for the 2020-21 school year
Kindergarten registration for the 2020-2021 school year begins January 20 at
McKenzie Towne School. We expect that the school will be able to accommodate all
K-4 students who reside within the school’s boundary. The school is unable to
accommodate out-of-boundary students. Students who move outside of our boundary
area during the school year, may complete the school year at McKenzie Towne
School, but cannot be accommodated at MTS the next year.
Regular Attendance is Important for Student Success
Showing up for school has a huge impact on a student’s academic success starting in
kindergarten and continuing through high school. Even as children grow older and
more independent, families play a key role in making sure students get to school
safely every day and understand why attendance is so important for success in school
and in life.
We realize some absences are unavoidable due to health problems or other
circumstances. However, we also know when students miss too much school—
regardless of the reason – it can cause them to fall behind academically. Your child is
less likely to succeed if he or she is chronically absent—which means missing 18 or
more days over the course of an entire school year. Absences can add up quickly.
Please ensure that your child attends school every day and arrives on time.
What happens on Friday afternoons at MTS?
We are sure many of you may have asked the question, “What do MTS teachers do on
Friday afternoons when my child is not in school?” Research shows teacher practice
evolves and becomes more effective when they work in the company of their peers.
Effective teaching practice has a significant impact on student achievement. We
extend the instructional minutes of the school day in order to “bank” time for
Professional Development on our Friday afternoons. Friday afternoons allow for
teachers to participate in Professional Learning Communities in order to create shared
standards of what effective teaching “sounds” and “looks” like; making the learning
visible. Meeting collaboratively creates a strong teacher collective commitment and
culture focused on improving outcomes for students. Teachers explicitly and
intentionally use Friday afternoons to ensure this happens. Friday is a day of learning
for our students in the morning and our teachers in the afternoon.
We are pleased to inform you that we were not required to make any teacher staffing
or classroom organizational changes at our school resulting from the CBE budget
cuts. Our two temporary contract teachers, Ms. Geraghty and Ms. Penfold, were able
to continue at the school. We welcome Mr. Victor Jiminez, covering for Mrs. Hansen,
who is on maternity leave. As well, Ms. Ali Coutts has joined the MTS staff
replacing Mrs. Coleman in grade 2, while she is on medical leave.
Please continue to check your child’s teacher blog as well as the Friday message sent
by our Assistant Principal, Mrs. Westgate every Friday for the most up-to-date
information on school events and your child’s learning and classroom.
Dr. Lorraine Slater
As I write this news report, and in looking at the calendar, I note that there are 6 weeks remaining until the winter break! Our schedule of school activities is very full for class and whole school events. I encourage you to keep close track of these activities through the weekly school messenger that will be sent to parents on Fridays, and by continuing to check your child’s teacher blog published on a weekly basis on Friday as well.
Who do you speak to if you have a concern?
Should you have a concern about your child, your first course of action is to:
- meet with your child’s classroom teacher, then if necessary,
- meet with the school principal, then if necessary,
- meet with the director of your Area office, then, if necessary, meet the appropriate senior superintendent of the CBE (the Area Director would provide information for contacting the appropriate superintendent.
Parents should treat school staff with the same high level of respect that they would like to receive from schools. Everyone should do his/ her best to communicate in an open and honest way that encourages discussion, cooperation and problem solving. The goal is to always do what is best for children.
Did you know……
- Parent/teacher interviews will take place on Thursday, November 21 from 4 pm to 8 pm and on Friday November 22 from 8:00 am to 1:00 pm. Conference manager will open on Saturday, November 16 at 8:00 am for you to book your interview time These will be face-to-face interviews with your child’s teacher at which time student progress, achievement and development will be discussed.
- MTS will be hosting a Scholastic Book Fair during P/T conferences. This is a perfect time to do some Christmas shopping and support the further acquisition of books for the MTS library through your purchases.
- Your child’s first report card will come home BEFORE the winter break on Thursday, December 19. This is also the last day of school before the winter break. Friday, December 20 is a non-instructional day.
- A notice has been sent home detailing plans for the MTS Christmas concerts. Please note that this year the grade 1& 2 classes, and the grade 3/4 choir will be presenting the concerts. The grade 3/4 classes will be sharing their talent in the spring.
We hope that the weather will remain mild through the next 6 weeks as we all persevered through the untimely cold and snow of the past few weeks.
I am looking forward to seeing you in the school as you support MTS activities before the winter break. Students return to school on Tuesday, January 7, 2020.
Wishing you a safe and relaxing holiday.
Dr. Lorraine Slater
We are beginning to settle nicely into the routines and rhythm of the new school year. Our student population as of Sept. 30 when the official enrolment figures were submitted to the CBE was 566 students. This number includes 465 students in grades 1-4 and 101 students in kindergarten. We have 27 classes. Our class size ranges from 17- 23 students In K-4. During the first month of school our focus has been for teachers and students to get to know each other. In order to personalize learning for students, it is important for teachers to know each child for the unique individual he/she is as well as to become familiar with how each child learns best. Your attendance at the first conference of the year has helped with this process as you have shared information about your child with his/her teacher.
All students are enjoying their dance residency with Sound Kreations professional dance company. Sound Kreations offers an enaging and socially encouraged method of developing a student’s Physical Literacy, Mindfulness and appreciation for the creative process through the exploration of Dance and Poetry! Sound Kreations are in-school dance residency program specialists who create a safe environment for students to take risks and succeed.
Thank you to the Parent Council at MTS for their financial support of this amazing opportunity for our students. Through your dedicated fund-raising efforts, we are able to provide these curricular related exceptional experiences to our students. Please watch for future information on the teacher blogs/ MTS website for the scheduled time of your child’s performance celebration with Sound Kreations. Sharing assemblies will take place during the day on October 22.
Dr. Lorraine Slater
I hope that your family has enjoyed a relaxing summer. The break is also very important to school staff. Teaching is a demanding profession that requires energy, commitment, and dedication in serving the needs of students within our schools. Our staff came back together in our pre-school planning days with a renewed energy and passion for the work that we do every day.
We have a few changes to our school staff this year. In June, we were able to announce that Mrs. Susan Westgate was joining MTS as our new Assistant Principal. Mrs. Westgate has been very busy as she brings “her fresh set of eyes” to MTS while getting to know students and staff. Mrs. Bitz, our Resource teacher is teaching a morning kindergarten this year.
She is a very busy individual, retaining her Resource responsibilities at half time, as well as serving as a Learning Leader at the school. Mrs. Braun, Grade 1 teacher and LL, completes our administrative team.
I feel privileged to work with a team of such exceptional talent. I honour and respect their perspectives and wisdom as we work together to serve McKenzie Towne School.
We welcome several new teachers to our school:
- Emily Catsirelis, Grade 3
- Rachel Sharma, returning to MTS from leave – AM Kindergarten
- Stephanny Penfold, replacing Sarah Lambert who is on medical leave – Grade 2
- Kalryssa Geraghty, replacing Janet Purdy who is on medical leave – Grade 1
We have almost 560 students this year at MTS! Final enrolment numbers will be submitted to the CBE at the end of September when we will update you again on numbers.
I look forward to continuing to get to know our students and parents over the year. I am committed to excellence in student learning, teaching and leadership and to working collaboratively with staff, parents and students to ensure the best possible education for our children at McKenzie Towne School. Feel free to contact me at email@example.com
Please do not hesitate to contact me at school at firstname.lastname@example.org or 403-777-6185 if you have questions, suggestions or concerns.
Dr. Lorraine Slater
It is hard to believe that we are into the home stretch of the school year with a “count down” in weeks rather than months!
As we prepare for the 2019-20 school year, we are in the throes of planning and staffing processes for next year. Every year brings changes in staffing as we add new staff members and say goodbye to others whose career choices take them in different directions. Staffing continues through the month of June. Teachers and administration are busy this month organizing classroom configurations for next year. We appreciate your trust in our professionalism as we create classrooms based on a multiplicity of variables that contribute to a balanced and optimum learning environment for every child. Teacher grade assignments and class lists will not be announced until students return on the first day of school, September 3, 2019.
We bid a fond farewell to our AP, Mrs. Kivi, as she moves on to a principalship at another school, I am pleased to announce that Susan Westgate has been appointed as the new Assistant Principal at McKenzie Towne School. Susan has worked as a teacher and Learning Leader at several different schools and has been AP at Sam Livingston School for 3 years. While on leave this past year Susan was seconded by Alberta Education to help develop the new School Act and to write Standards and Guidelines for curriculum development in our province. Susan holds a B.Ed. degree from the University of Lethbridge with a focus of study on Technology in Education. As well, she has a Master’s degree from the University of Alberta in Leadership/Curriculum. We welcome Susan to our school and look forward to her expertise, passion, leadership and knowledge in working with early childhood learners in education. She will be a wonderful addition to our staff!
As in previous years, School Council has made a huge difference in the learning opportunities offered to our students throughout the year. In addition to the events planned and hosted by School Council such as special lunches, gingerbread and oranges for Christmas story time, and the upcoming grade 4 farewell, fundraising efforts organized by the School Council and supported by the parent community have provided enhanced learning activities for students including Trickster Theatre, Physical Education residencies such as lacrosse and tennis and additional resources for Music and Physical Education. These curricular-related but “extra” learning programs would not be possible within the provincial funding framework that exists for schools. Thank you once again for your support!
The month of June includes many special events, field trips and celebrations. For our grade 4 students and students in grade 3 whose families have chosen for them to attend McKenzie Highlands, it is a time to say farewell to the school they know and love as they move on to new adventures in learning. Taking their place will be a new crop of kindergarten students who will be starting school. Our commitment at MTS is to provide the best possible learning experience for young learners so that they remain engaged and motivated through their school days.
Sports day will take place on Monday, June 24th in the morning from 9:00- 10:00 am for designated classes and again in the afternoon from 1:00-2:00pm. Please check your child’s blog to find out when their class is participating and join us if you can. Volunteers are always needed on sports day.
We will have a short farewell assembly at 10:15 on Wednesday June 26, the last day of school, to say goodbye to each other and to staff who are leaving the school. At this time, all students will have the chance to say goodbye to our grade 4’s who will be moving to new schools. The grade 4 farewell assembly and celebration will take place in the gym on Friday, June 21 from 10:30-12:00 for all grade 4’s and their families (including the siblings of grade 4 students who are at the school).
Please remember to check the lost and found before June 26th. Please check at the office for small items (watches, keys, rings etc.). Staff will not be available in July, so please check for items before June 26. All unclaimed items will be donated to charity.
I hope to see you at the school over the next month. Wishing everyone a happy relaxing summer.
Principal, McKenzie Towne School
The year continues to roll on at an
incredible pace. Dr. Slater has been on
leave since March 5 and we are happy to announce that she will be returning on
Monday, May 6! When it comes to
Trickster, there is nothing that could ever keep Dr. Slater from missing
it! We know that she is looking forward
to being back at MTS- the school just hasn’t been the same without her.
As we move into the last two months of the
school year, the planning for next year is well underway. In order to help us with our planning, please
let the school know if you will not be returning to MTS for the Fall of
2019. If you are transferring schools,
please contact the office and they can assist you with transfer forms for
schools within CBE. If you are moving
outside of the McKenzie Towne community, you will no longer be able to attend
MTS. Having accurate enrollment numbers
is key to our planning success. Thank
you for providing us with any new information that can assist us with our
As you already know, Trickster will be here
May 6-10 for a week of math embedded into physical theater. Students and staff have been busy getting
ready for Trickster to take over MTS. If
you are looking to volunteer, please go to Trickster Volunteer Sign Up Genius
to sign up for a time. You will enjoy
the behind the scenes work that Trickster has to offer!
Are you wondering about show times for the
Trickster performance on FRIDAY, MAY 10?
Mark your calendars with the following information:
Kindergarten: Purdy AM, Lewis AM, Carter
Kindergarten: Purdy PM, Lewis PM, Carter
Shillington, Coleman, Assmus
How can math be embedded into the theatre?
understanding is knowing more than isolated facts and methods. Our goal is to have successful students
understand and demonstrate mathematical ideas and have the ability to transfer
their knowledge into new situations and apply it to new contexts. It’s really about helping students to see how math is applied in the
world around them. Math goes beyond “math class” and is used in our
everyday lives, in everyday scenarios.
before spring break as grade teams to come up with their specific Trickster
focus. Each teacher had to identify one specific mathematical outcome
within their graded curriculum and one location (which is likely tied to their
science or social studies curriculum). For example, in grade two, a class
could be focused on: two-digit addition & working with money in a store in
Metaghan (social studies focus). This conceptual understanding of using
addition to purchase souvenirs on a trip to another place is a very real-life
scenario that engages student understanding of math beyond the classroom.
Trickster Theater, along with their dramatic knowledge and background, will
transform this mathematical outcome combined with an intentional location, and
turn it into a two-minute performance that reflects students mathematical
We are excited to
share with you our “MATH-erpiece Theatre” performance on Friday, May 10! See you at the show!
Do you Tweet? Did you know that MTS has its own Twitter
account? We need followers! Look for us on Twitter @MTS_CBE .
Watch for some great tweets next week all about Trickster!
McKenzie Towne School
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Dr. Lorraine Slater
I am committed to working collaboratively with staff, parents and students in order to ensure the best possible education for our children.