Feb 06
February is a Month of Valentines

“Why did you do all this for me? He asked. “I don’t deserve it. I’ve never done anything for you.”
'You have been my friend,' replied Charlotte. 'That in itself is a tremendous thing.”
E.B. White, Charlotte's Web

February is a month of Valentines where special messages are sent to and from the heart in recognition of those we love. At Royal Oak School we are celebrating friendship. As Charlotte, the spider says to Wilbur the pig, “You have been my friend…that in itself is a tremendous thing”. At this time events such as the arrival of refugees from many countries reminds us that as friends to the world, we need to shift our focus from our own “sweethearts and friends” to those on the international scene who have lost their homes, belongings and most importantly, the loss of friends and family. The teachers are currently discussing ways in which we as a school community might welcome those with a meaningful response and contribute to those who have experienced unimaginable crisis. We will keep you informed of our plans to demonstrate even more “Generosity” as they are developed by our students.

December was an exciting and busy month with Rocks and Rings in PE, caroling, Dr. Seuss Week and Kindergarten attendance at the ATP Play of Zorro. There were many field trips to the Glenbow Museum, a community collection for Stephen’s Backpacks and a collection of new socks for Inn From the Cold. A special thank you to the Kindergarten teachers – Ms. Sticksl, Ms. Bernard-Dixon and Ms. Mercer for the Zorro Field trip Organization, Caitlin Wood (parent) for the Dr.Seuss Week, and the teachers Ms. Bradbury, Ms. Cook, Ms. Bernard-Dixon, Ms. Daniels, Ms. Devereux, and Ms. Fournier on the Stephen’s Backpack Committee. All of these activities involve numerous parent volunteers and a special thank you to all those who support ROS. Just before the Winter Holiday, the first ROS Report Card went home. Please let your child’s teacher know if you have any questions or comments regarding your child’s progress regarding the report card or at anytime.

January started the new year with gymnastics, more field trips to the Glenbow Museum and a wonderful journey through the Grade 2 Celebration of Learning focusing on the Discipline of Historian.

February enters with a family Skate-Shack experience in the evening at the community rink on Tuesday, February 5 and Thursday, February 7 from 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. The Skate-Shack is a mobile bus that offers free skates for children and adults. A special thanks to Ms. Hennick for her organization of these two evenings. Also, we will have Alien In-line skating in the gym for all students in PE and our Artist in Residence for Kindergarten and Grade 1 students. We will conclude the month with Pink Shirt Day.

Not only are our students learning about global citizenship and friendship in a myriad of activities, but the time block from January to March generates significant learning opportunities and as educators, we often see tremendous growth in student learning.
The growth is not fortunately isolated to students at this time. We are well aware of the co-relation between student learning and professional development. I am consistently impressed with the commitment and effort that the Royal Oak School teachers and support staff dedicate to this very important condition for learning. The staff have made excellent use of the professional learning time and have also spent a significant number of hours after work related to our School Development Plan (SDP). As such, we are pleased with the advancement of our School Development Plan goals of improving student learning through subject specific Disciplinary Literacy Learning. In other words, how do geologists think? How do mathematicians read? What information is important in the reading and what should be left out? How do historians write? What perspectives should be considered? Who has a voice and whose voice has been left out of history? The teachers accomplish this through inquiry, task design, assessment and ensuring that we transfer knowledge, skills and conceptual understanding. We are looking forward to continued growth as our staff advance the important work of the SDP at the next Professional Development Day on March 1 as well as on February 14 and 15 at the annual Teachers’ and Support Staff Conventions.

Also, we are most grateful for the contributions of our Galileo Educational Network mentor teacher, Kari Sirup who has been working consistently with the teachers throughout the term and most recently on the December 14 PD day, January 11 PLC, and many PLC (Professional Learning Communities) dates where we focused on student critical-thinking, deep conceptual understanding of Disciplinary Literacy. We would like to acknowledge and thank Galileo Educational Network housed at the University of Calgary. This provides excellent teaching and learning opportunities which enrich the learning of our students. We are very appreciative of this opportunity to deliver excellent education to your children.

As February is the month for bouquets, I would like to express my gratitude to a group of unsung heroes at Royal Oak School, our Administrative Assistants, our Educational Assistants, School Assistant and our Lunchroom Supervisors. Specifically, thank you to Ms. Jackson, Ms. Robins and Ms. Braun, for all their care, attention and professionalism in communication, organization, and safety. I would also like to thank the Educational Assistants for their excellent work when working with our most complex learners. I would like to extend another heartfelt thank you to the Lunchroom Supervisors for all their contributions to student learning in an unstructured setting. I would also like to thank our School Assistant, Ms. Green for her daily dedication to bus and traffic safety by monitoring the students. We are very fortunate to have such a positive group of people supporting our students. I very much appreciate and admire the manner in which they exude the qualities of creating ‘belonging’. Thank you for your patience, perseverance, and care with our students. Research shows that if students know that they are cared for they will engage and retain more of what they are learning.

I would also like to welcome some new staff members to our Royal Oak School community. First, we have the arrival of Ms. Gierl (Grade 3 teacher in for Ms. Bennett who is on a Deferred Salary leave) and Ms. Wong (Grade 1 teacher in for Mr. Duggan who is on an acting assignment as a Complex Learning Strategist) and Ms. Boston (Grade 2 teacher in for Ms. Quesnel who is on Maternity Leave). They all come with years of wonderful experience in supporting learners. We would like to extend a special Royal Oak School welcome to all three new members of our staff.

Also, you are welcome to join us for either or both parent meetings on Monday, February 11. The Fundraising Society meets and School Council meets at 6:30 p.m. We would welcome your ideas and we are always looking for more parents to volunteer to assist with the great work of our students.

As Cicero said, “Friendship improves happiness, and abates misery, by doubling our joys, and dividing our grief.”

Have a Happy Valentine’s Day with your family and friends.

Lynn Sparks, Principal

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