Nov 03
November Message

Dear Parents,

 

I cannot tell you how seasonally confused I feel when it snows on May 8th and is 20 degrees November 2nd. My body doesn't know if it should move into or out of hibernation. I am grateful, though. Any day I don't have to shovel is a good day.

 

I approach each month with hope and optimism. Hope happens when we all come together and do the heavy lifting. I know how hard you are all working to stay safe, follow the checklist, and keep children at home when symptoms arise. The Tuscany School Staff all thank you for doing this part of the heavy lifting. Without your support, our work becomes that much more difficult. Our staff is doing everything they can to keep the school sanitized, remain in cohorts, minimize shared spaces and materials and stay healthy. We all will continue to be the “village" working together to strengthen the whole.

 

Please see our message sent out on October 30th regarding the new Daily Checklist for Children under age 18 for details. There are slight modifications that you will want to stay current round. Alberta Health is strongly recommending flu shots this year. I will leave it up to you to make the best decision for your child(ren).

 

I want to thank everyone who participated in building our Pumpkin Patches this year. The video clip sent home through the blogs is sure to bring back memories of the carving experience. All of the students were able to tour through all of the patches throughout the day. One staff member commented on how wonderful it was to see parents bring their pumpkins and drop them off in patches first thing in the morning. There are these beautiful moments that give us insight to the way things used to be and how we are adapting to the way things can be this year. Your participation helps make it special for the students and staff!

 

We are working on our next project of our Remembrance Day ceremony. Everyone is working hard to share another experience with you virtually so please stay tuned. Thank you to those who have sent photos of family members for our slide show. We will use photos sent to us in previous years unless you ask us to remove them. We have removed photos for all families who have moved on to TMC School just to follow our rules around consent to post and publish.

Just a reminder that Remembrance Day is Wednesday, November 11 and the school will be closed.

 

Soon you will receive a notice about FEES through Communications. This will detail the information around Instructional Supplies and Materials fees, commonly known as ISM. Prior to the NDP government's time in office, ISM fees were charged to parents. The NDP party took the fee on themselves. However, this year the parents assume the payments. The ISM fee of $40.00 for grades 1-6, inclusive of EES and $20.00 for our Kindergarten students covers all of the school supplies your child uses this year. This will also apply to our HUB families to cover costs associated with online books and materials accessed by HUB classroom students.

 

Noon Supervision fees will be uploaded to your accounts and this covers a large portion of the cost of lunchroom supervisors. Drop-in fees of $5.00 per visit need to be paid to the school if you choose this option.

 

Throughout the year there will be fees associated with our virtual field trips, dance residencies and visits with discipline specific specialists. The fees for these programs come up throughout the year. Your child's teacher will keep you informed of the virtual tours and guest speakers they will be accessing. We try to keep costs down while still getting the opportunity to accessing experts in the field.

 

Our School Council provides a tremendous amount of funding for a number of events and residencies at no cost to our parents. With their help, we have been able to secure things like Alien in-Iine, artist in residencies and musical opportunities celebrating Carnaval. We are still understanding what this will evolve into this year. For example, we had Sound Kreations booked originally for September, shifted it to November and now will have them during the spring. We will keep our hopes for an in-person visit from our instructor AJ but will also go with plan B if we need to live stream him into the gym for classes. We are always looking at Plan B.

 

Please join us for our School Council meeting on Thursday, November 12th at 6:30. Our School Council Chair, Michelle, will be sending out the link on that day and we always enjoy seeing those who are able to attend. Our parents are dearly missed within our building and we look for ways of connecting us all together. So if you have a chance come and join us on the 12th.​


Jun 12
June Message

June Newsletter

Here we are in June. This is a time to reflect back on accomplishments and share what we know about next year start up. You will need to make yourself a cup of tea for this one as it is quite lengthy.

First, I want to take some time to thank all of you during these challenging times. The strength of the Tuscany Community was so evident each and every day. Individually, you experienced unexpected change, had to shift your whole design plan into one that incorporated working from home, becoming partners with teachers in guiding and supporting your child’s education, recreational planners to keep children entertained indoors, learning new health and safety protocols, physically disconnecting with a world you were so connected to, and missing friends and family members. This is only scratching the surface of all the things you faced over the past three months. Knowing we were all facing the same situation brought us closer together but, if you were like me, Google Meet, Skype, Zoom and any other platform of visually connecting with others just didn’t cut it. However, we all adapted.

Then the nature of the community emerged. Sharing “Acts of kindness and generosity” emerged and instead of thinking about ourselves, we started to think of others and the impact this pandemic was having on our neighbors, family, friends, teachers and so many more. People reaching out to help, share kind words and appreciation that we were together and here for each other. You may never know the impact you had on the staff of Tuscany School. You need to know it was powerful. Your support, care and attention towards this staff helped lift the spirits of all and suddenly we moved into sharing of stories of the experiences we had. The shared video clips of children provided endless joy, conversations within Google classrooms and D2L were inspiring. The signs and food helped the office staff to feel the nourishing care. Due to the contributions by students, I successfully found a moose and stood in awe as this beautiful animal patiently posed for pictures that I could send to Saa’kokoto in my excitement. He told me the moose represents courage. It is no surprise to have moose reside in such a strong and courageous community as Tuscany.

Our Minister of Education spoke yesterday and shared information about the return to school in the fall. We are all hopeful and confident about the future and look forward to hearing clarifying information from the government on August 1st. Calgary Board of Education task force is working on plans for all three scenarios and will be ready for the announcement in August.

The provincial budget has had a powerful impact as well.

Due to the cuts in PUF funding, Tuscany School will be closing its EDC program. There has been a new model developed to support our youngest learners. EDC will exist at 3 sites, one of which will be a campus setting at Guy Weadick School. Many of our students in the EDC were ready for Kindergarten and registered in their neighborhood schools. The rest are able to access the programs at Guy Weadick or are able to access private programs closer to their homes.

This means we will also be saying farewell to our wonderful EDC staff. Kristal Spencer, teacher; Ana Loyola Rocha, Early Childhood Practitioner; Karin Hauf, Speech Language Assistant, will be leaving Tuscany School as of June 30th. Their extraordinary talents lifting children’s skills, developing rich and rewarding relationships, and creating dynamic learning experiences were embraced and appreciated by all. We loved every minute of our time together with these amazing children and their families and want to wish everyone safe journeys as they make their way forward.

The loss of Class Size Funding has had a substantial impact on our school staff for Kindergarten to Grade 3 students. In the past, we were able to staff at ratio to numbers of students for this age group. With the loss of the Class Size funding the ratio of students per staff have increased. This has resulted in a loss of our teaching staff. In these circumstances, we move to seniority lists and select those with the least seniority on staff. It is with great sadness we need to announce the loss of Kyria Pires (Kindergarten teacher), Rashmi Baldwin and Karen Arcure (grade 3 teachers), and Jada Belin (grade 4 teacher). All of our teachers have been such integral members of the Tuscany family and will be deeply missed. We know their talents will benefit the schools they are moving to, so while we say goodbye to this group at the end of June, they will always be family to us and will remain connected in so many ways.

One of the design models we need to address is the ratio of students to teachers. We have created several scenarios to look at designs that are in the best interest of our students. Collectively, we feel we need to move into multi-aging to allow the ratios to be equitable across the board and not place certain grades with 33-34 students into the design. This means we will be implementing multi-aging scenarios as follows:

French Immersion

Kindergarten – currently have 2 classes – 1 AM serving Rocky Ridge and Royal Oak (and some Tuscany-non bused students chosen from a wait list) and 1 PM class Tuscany residents.

Two classes of grade 1; one class of grade 1/2; one class of grade 2/3; one class of grade 3/4; one class of grade 4/5.

This allows classes to remain reasonable in their sizes; it also allows for any students that choose to enter the program in grade 1. Last year we started with 22 and ended up with 32. In anticipation of the new year we are prepared now for new students entering at this grade.

Community

Kindergarten – currently have 2 classes

We will have 2 classes of grade 1, two classes of grade 2, one class of grade 2/3; two classes of grade 3, one class of grade 3/4; and 2 classes of grade 4. Again, this prevents us from looking at grades with 33 students.

Multi-aging

Typically, we would have held a special information session to introduce these changes, take your questions and gather feedback. However, we are living in unique times. Included below is some research for you to access. Multi-aging is not split grades. It is very different and offers tremendous advantages to all children. Eric Harvie School opened its doors implementing multi-aged approaches to teaching and learning. I had expressed my support of this model and now we will be able to introduce it gradually.

Today, classrooms reflect the educational environment as a triangle, the three points represented by the teacher, the student, and the content. Teachers provide opportunities for each child to engage in rich educational tasks that take the child along the processes of skill development within each subject area. Students and teachers are collaborative goal setters in the educational work. Teachers use a variety of assessment tools to monitor and measure academic growth which they use to share with students and

their parents. In a multi-age environment this is the same. Teachers design an activity based on concepts, skills and learning outcomes and look at the student’s stage of skill development. The teacher creates the activity so that it can meet the range of skill complexity so that the students may work at the level they need to master before progressing to the next level.

This means we are not grouping students by their abilities. There will be diversity of learning styles within each class as there has always been at Tuscany School and teachers are prepared to “personalize” their learning environments to meet the needs of all students.

The research on multi aging classrooms is extensive as this model of instructional delivery has been in practice for decades. Much of the material I have listed is dated, however, access to articles through the University and on-line are available as well. I can suggest titles such as:

Short, Kathy, and Carolyn Burke. Creating Curriculum: Teachers and Students as a Community of Learners. Portsmith, NH; Heinemann, 1991

Pigdon, Keith, and Marilyn Woolley, eds. The Big Picture: Integrating Children’s Learning. Armdale, Australia: Eleanor Curtain Publishing, 1992

Ministry of Education, Province of British Columbia. Supporting Learning: Understanding and Assessing the Progress of Children. Victoria, BC, 1991

Kasten, W., and B. Clarke. The Multi-Age Classroom: A Family of Learners. Katonah, NY: Richard Owen, 1993

Gardner, Howard: Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligence. New York: Basic Books, 1985

Barrell, John. Teaching for Thoughtfulness: Classroom Strategies to Enhance Intellectual Development. New York: Longman, 1991

Politano, Colleen and Anne Davies: Multi-Age and More, Building Connections. Winnipeg: Peguis Publishers, 1994

As I say, this is a great deal of information to digest as we work our way through to opening in the all.

I was discussing all of the changes Tuscany School has experienced over the last 6 years. We went from 8 classes of each grade with almost 800 students to the arrival of the Eric Harvie staff. We operated two schools under one roof for four incredible months. Our population went to 465 in a short period of time. We celebrated Arbour Day with all four schools in the Tuscany neighborhood. We lifted our Indigenous Strategy working with Ryan Jason Allen Willert and then with Saa’kokoto. Working with Saa’kokoto we published Blackfoot stories told to us by our Elder and then created an Indigenous Opera, the first of its kind. We brought in our EDC classrooms. With the departures of our EDC it has created space for us to bring in our EES classes.

EES stands for “Enhanced Educational Supports” comprised of students with specific learner profiles. Each of the two classes coming to Tuscany School has a teacher and two Educational Assistants. We are welcoming the staff from the CSSI class at Cambrian Heights School as well as the staff from Brentwood School CSSI class to join us for the fall. We are looking forward to expanding our school profile to include the EES classes.

As we move forward, we will continue to link arms and lean into the challenges we face and celebrate all the “silver linings” that come from learning new things. The staff of Tuscany School is grateful for your ability to work as partners. Together we can accomplish so much!​

May 04
May Message

Dear Parents,

When we started this journey no one could possibly predict the changes that could happen so quickly. We all wondered if we were at all prepared to do this with the skills, tools and techniques we have in our toolkits. I am certain our parents were wondering the same thing along with trying to balance parenting with professional duties and ongoing challenges with dealing with changes each day.

Six weeks into this process I will let you know I have learned a great deal more than I knew was possible. Like you, I went through the stages of first, “waiting for this to be over”, and then being frustrated with this is “never over”, and finally into the stage of “acceptance”. Once I embraced this stage I was in a better place of listening, learning, and leading. I am so proud of the work of the staff of Tuscany School. Each member has risen to the challenge of maintaining relationships with students and parents, providing ongoing learning opportunities, tasks and challenges. I have delighted in popping into classes to see your children’s beautiful faces and hear their stories and sharing of their adventures. It is the best part of my day.

We all have become partners in the learning process and can learn so much from each other as well as the children. I have watched how children are growing into their understanding of how to work online. I smile when I think of the visits I made to classes early in April. Children were fascinated with finding their faces and seeing themselves on the screen. There were plenty of opportunities for exploring this type of engagement. Now I am so pleased to see so many children have moved into demonstrating their skills around the digital citizenship plan working in respectful ways. Learning how to focus on the discussions, taking turns in speaking and learning the tools has been a challenge that most are now quite fluent.

Our next step is looking at ways children can use their newfound skills in demonstrating greater independence in their engagement and task completion. Again, this is a work in progress and we all are partners within the process so have patience as we move to the next step in our learning.

When teachers create tasks for students in online learning, challenges arise. Teachers are not seeing the different ways children are approaching those tasks. What and how children produce is exactly what teachers need to see at each stage of learning. This way, teachers recognize what the child is able to do, provide ongoing feedback and make recommendations. If a teacher sees only the finished product, they are not able to provide the ongoing feedback the children usually receive when in the classroom. This way they can hear their teacher’s voice, accept feedback and make incremental adjustments to what they are creating. If you find yourself doing the activities with, and possibly for your child it is now time to sit back and let them take the reins. You have been so incredibly supportive getting them online, learning the tools of the new learning environment so it may be a good time to step back and let them run with what they have learned. Teachers need to see what children come up with on their own to have a clear picture of how to design activities at their level and not make them too easy or too difficult.

We respect your desire to save your child from frustrations but this too, is part of the learning process. I can speak from experience; technology is not my area of expertise, as many of you know. I am learning so much over the past month that even the staff are surprised at what I can do for myself! I keep them on call in case I run into trouble and that’s what I want you to do, too. Stay close to assist with troubleshooting, but don’t feel you need to take all the troubles away. We all learn through our struggles and feel a true sense of accomplishment through what is learned through the process.

I have learned some tips from colleagues that will help guide this:

Feel free to help interpret directions. Sometimes children are not sure what the teacher is asking for and your mentorship through this is so supportive. Once they know, give them space.

When your child asks for help, ask them, “What have you tried so far?” This will help them know they need to exercise their thinking muscles, give time for problem solving and move into their first attempts. If they have the chance to think about confusions and talk about them aloud, you may be surprised how well they can come to a new plan all on their own. Talking aloud can be a great strategy when trying to think of a solution.

Rely on teacher tools such as visuals, checklists, and other references for children to rely upon. Children can use these tools to check off what they need to do, how they can approach tasks and self evaluate what they have done. Their opinion of their work matters so much.

Take frequent breaks. I have had to learn this the hard way. I have discovered that too much screen time is very hard on my body, brain, and eyes. I am much happier when I spend a limited amount of time on screens and the majority of my time being creative and dynamic engaged with “movement” activities.

Give yourself a pat on the back. You are doing incredible work with balancing so much on your shoulders. This has been such a challenging time for everyone. Sometimes letting go of “schoolwork” is just the right thing to do in the moment. You know best.

I want to say a temporary farewell to our Lunchroom and cleaning staff: Mrs. Ali, Mrs. Ghalambor, Mrs. Spadafora, Mrs. Acanski-Dubroja, Mrs. Yeh, Mrs, Bloemraad, Mrs. Mansey and Mr. Gilliland have all received temporary lay off notices official today. We have appreciated the ongoing support that this wonderful group has been engaged in and want to wish them well as they tackle gardening, reading and a host of other activities during the next 4 months. We are all looking forward to having them return in the fall safe and well rested.

I want to thank you all for doing the heavy lifting at home, working in partnerships with our teaching staff and Educational Assistants. We are living through unique experiences. I am astonished by the number of “silver linings” I discover every day. It seemed that not long ago I wondered when this would end. Now I am wondering if we will be able to hold onto those learnings that have actually allowed us to focus on what is truly important savoring the moments we are able to share with our families.

Please know we miss you all, the school echoes without the sound of children engaged in the classrooms, hallways and playground. I will continue to pop into classrooms online and take joy in being part of this new learning environment.​

Mar 29
Principal Message | April

Dear Parents;

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass; it’s about learning to dance in the rain.”

You have received messages from CBE Communications and our Chief Superintendent Chris Usih around the way we are moving forward. You also have heard from your child’s teacher prior to spring break and will hear from them again on Monday when teachers return to work. I just wanted you to hear from me, now.

These interesting times in which we live present gifts and challenges. No matter where we go in the world in the future, we all will share the memory of these days, together as a global family. The lessons we learn and how we have embraced them today will have tremendous impact on each one of us as we grow forward.

For me, I am so acutely aware of how much I miss the sound of children’s voices. When I sit at the front desk and close my eyes, I can draw upon the memories of the sound of their laughter, sharing ideas, jokes, engage in “running” commentary. I am so deeply aware of how their voices fill my heart; provide me with energy and enthusiasm. Their faces share smiles of delight that lighten my day. I also miss the sounds of the adults that flow in and out in varying capacities, whether volunteering, picking up children or dropping things off. The critical relationship of home and school is vital to building a sense of belonging. You are my “village” and I miss you all.

Now, I have a choice. I can stay in days of missing what I feel I have lost, or I can embrace the chance to learn new “dancing” moves. The way we are moving forward is an opportunity to get excited about design thinking. It brings children into a way of relating to education as a lived experience as it surrounds them. It does not rely on a building, a bell, or a lunch kit. It is about the relationship between big ideas and breaking down those ideas into smaller building blocks of understanding. Children’s experiences can continue be designed by excellent teachers with the help of parents. We are in this together and are perfect dancing partners to enrich the educational experiences of the children we share. We are looking forward to engaging in ways we have not thought of before and in doing so could be changing the way we all embrace and interpret education.

The staff of Tuscany School have all eagerly leaned in to doing things differently in order to maintain relationships with their students, design tasks in ways that all learners can engage and continue to believe so deeply in teaching and learning. They constantly inspire me. Our Facility Operator, Li, has been so thorough in keeping the building clean and sterilized to allow us to feel safe and healthy as we continue to do our best work possible. Our Support Staff continue to engage in professional Development to increase their skills and talents in working with children in so many different ways to benefit the educational supports for our students. Together, we all can make a profound difference in the lives of our children.

Get your dancing shoes on and let the music begin….​

Dec 13
December Message

​December is that time of year when people give thanks for the blessings they have. I would like to share mine with you.

We have all been on a difficult journey since October when the provincial budget came into reality. It was natural for everyone to fear the worst and this created a desire for detailed information, reassurances, and opportunities for advocacy on behalf of public education. My father’s voice is always in my ear. He encouraged me to stand strong and let speculations, rumors, and biased thinking fall away. “Know what is true and important and let that be your guide.” With that in mind, Tuscany School adhered to system direction and priorities, wherein we placed students first and kept learning as our central purpose knowing that public education serves the common good. I am so grateful we can go forward with our Tuscany Staff intact. Our children continue to invest in their trusted relationships with staff members until the end of June. 

I am also grateful for the profound strength within our community that continues to support public education in so many ways, representing so many teachers and valued program opportunities for our system. You made it clear every student matters. I encourage you to keep up the great work, do your homework, dig deep and ask critical questions such as “What is this about?” “Who does it serve?” “How will it impact our children in their future?” Together we will continue to put quality public education as a priority for all of our children.

I am so grateful for the Tuscany parents and extended family members. Your ongoing support of Tuscany School is heart warming. Volunteering endless hours on field trips, providing special snacks and fun lunches, helping families move smoothly through Kiss n Drop, library support, classroom reading and material preparations, incredible teacher appreciation events and so much more inspire me every day. Your ability to show how important it is to care about others in so many ways create the very village to which we all want to belong. You make spirits bright.

I want to thank our incredible Tuscany Staff. We have had challenging moments over the past few months. Your strength and resiliency is endless. I have come to know when times get tough our wonderful staff pulls together and finds ways to lift our spirits high. 

I also want to thank this wonderful village for all of the heartfelt wishes and supports I have received due to my father’s passing. He was a wonderful man with great wisdom. His voice lives on in my ears.

As you make your way through this wondrous season of giving, may your time with family and friends be filled with laughter and joy. May the food you share be made with love and may all your travels over the holidays be safe and smooth sailing. We look forward to seeing everyone back on January 7th, 2020.


Nov 07
November Message

Belonging

I want to share with a​​ll our families the importance of belonging to the “village”. Dr. Martin Brokenleg shared in his book Reclaiming Youth at Risk pg. 37-38, “In traditional Native society, it was the duty of all adults to serve as teachers for younger persons. … Children were trained to see themselves as related to virtually all with whom they had regular contact. … Treating others as related was a powerful social value that transformed human relationships. Drawing them into one’s circle motivated one to show respect and concern, and live with a minimum of friction and a maximum of good will.” Our ability to recognize and know we belong is vital to our well-being. It is also important to know we need to actively reach out and connect others to the village and show them how important they are to the village and how much they are valued. This helps us to connect to others beyond our community.

The strength of our village is shared every day in the way we engage with each other. The school is connected to each family who is connected to the community. With every positive, caring action of our children, families and school the community reflects this caring and shares it out to the larger stage. The ripple effect is so far reaching it is felt by those connected to each of us beyond the community of Tuscany. Each member of this “village” is critical to our well-being and everyone has an important role in lifting each other up, inspiring, supporting and holding each other in our care.

This Friday our students and staff are paying honor to those who have served and those currently serving in the military showing how important they are to us as members of our village. Each of us have family member names that have been part of a history and those who continue to make history by their actions to create a world of peace. You are welcome to join us for either the 9:00 or 10:30 ceremony. For those new to Remembrance Day ceremonies at school, photos and video recordings are not allowed. We invite you all to come and share your respect alongside of us. If you are unable to join us, wherever you may be at 11:00 am on November 11th, please take a minute to think about the larger village to which each of us belongs and give thanks for those who impact our lives in so many ways enabling us to build such strong communities of caring, generous and loving people. We are grateful to you all.​

Oct 21
October Message

The Tuscany Community Coalition hosted Dr. Phil McRae at Twelve Mile Coulee School October 17th.  He presented an incredible amount of information about “Forecasting the Future”. I wanted to share some highlights with you.

Dr. McRae asked us to imagine the future 50 years from now and what possibilities could exist. I was thinking about 50 years ago and how much life has changed in the past 50 years through the growth of technologies. Companies such as Amazon utilize machinery to carry out much of the labor work and artificial intelligence is predicted to keep growing taking over much of the laborious jobs. The jobs of the future will require strong creative abilities, problem solving, social emotional interactions and fine motor manipulations.

He posed a question around “Wisdom of the heart”. What will students remember after they have left school and have forgotten everything they learned? What knowledge is most worthwhile to have when moving forward in one’s life?

Building healthy brains requires positive human interactions, active connections with the physical environment, free play and opportunities for creative problem solving.

Children need to develop resiliency in order to “bounce back and bend with the wind”.

The following are key factors to building resilience:

·      Physical health

·      Quality of social networks

·      Quality of personal relationships

·      Access to social resources

·      Level of agency over actions

·      Optimism and positive outlook

·      Exposure to diverse ideas and experiences

·      Ability to embrace ambiguity

Dr. McRae shared the quote “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.” Written by Hopi Elders. He recommended three key factors to helping our children learn to navigate the tech world they are so interested in:

1.     Be Balanced – eat dinner together without any technology sitting at the table, including the parents’ cell phones. Ensure all screens are put away two hours prior to sleeping to allow for the melatonin to do what is needed in our bodies and allows for a peaceful night sleep.

2.     Be Mindful - be very careful about when you introduce technology to your children and why you would introduce it. Screen time is not a babysitter.

3.     Be Present – know that your children know when you are present and when you are distracted by your own tech tools. Relationships are critical and tech can prevent these relationships from becoming rich and dynamic. Eye to eye contact and conversations with your children are essential.

Dr. McRae included the website for the Centre on Media and Child Health to help us dig deeper into the work. Go to google and look up cmch.tv for more information.

This is the month I like to give thanks. 

Thank you to all those who are using the crosswalks coming and leaving school each day. Your ability to teach your children about taking their time and ensuring they are safe is so wonderful. You are awesome!

Thank you to all who continue to walk/bike to school. This is such a great way to start and finish the day in such a healthy way.

Thank you to all of those who come and park in the appropriate parking areas and turn off your engines to reduce the toxic fumes each morning and afternoon. Not only do you look after the staff and students, but your neighbors as well.

Thank you for all of you who were able to come and join us for the Sisterhood Terry Fox Run inclusive of Eric Harvie School, Tuscany School and Twelve Mile Coulee School. The collective planning team did an amazing job of organizing and delivering on a great plan. One of my favorite stories shared with us by a teacher: “A young child some distance away appeared to be very upset. I was attempting to get to him when I saw two students from TMC stop and reach out to him to ensure he was alright and then took him by both hands and led him to where he could find his classmates/teacher.” This shows the true nature of the Tuscany Community when everyone takes action to lift each other up and help each other find their way.

Thank you to the wonderful parents and extended family that continue to hold every child within the community in your arms. Your generosity of time, energy, donations, expertise, support, and encouragement keeps us all strong. There have been so many occasions when I hear how strong and generous this community is.

Thank you to our School Council.  I invite all parents to come to a School Council meeting to find out about how dedicated this group of parents is, how much they do to benefit the children at Tuscany School. We work with a shared vision and a collective understanding of how we can make the educational experiences for children rich and engaging. This group of people reach out to connect parents together, share in joyful times and help everyone connect to the community at large. Your children learn about strong community spirit from all of you.

And always, thank you to the Tuscany School Staff. You continue to bring your passion for teaching, inspiring, organizing, cleaning, supporting and dedication to students and their families to school every single day. You are the very heartbeat of our school.​

Sep 17
September Message

We have had an amazing start to our year. We are 10 instructional days in and have so many things to celebrate:

  • Our registrations increased significantly during the last 3 days of August. This is something to celebrate.
  • Our Early Childhood Development Centre is full with 10 students attending in the morning and 10 attending in the afternoon.
  • Kindergarten classes have 53 in the French Immersion and 47 in the Community programs.
  • Grade 1 classes have 59 students in the community classes.

We were amazed at the number of grade 1 registrations between August 28th and 30th The French Immersion program went from 20 students registered on August 28th to 29 students by August 30th at 4:00 pm.

This gave us an opportunity to look at a redesign process for this particular class. The numbers were so significant we went back to the drawing board to plan ways we could accommodate for the high numbers. We looked at every option available to us from multi-aging to reducing the music component of our school. In the end, we received a very generous one time only gift from our Area Office to help us work with the sudden growth and ensure appropriate programming. As such, I would like to welcome Gisele McFarlane to Tuscany School who has joined us to bring her area of expertise in literacy and numeracy within Early French Immersion.

Grade 2 classes have between 25 students in French Immersion and 65 in the community programs.

Grade 3 classes have 19 in French Immersion and 64 in the community programs.

Grade 4 classes have 23 in French Immersion and 76 in the community programs.

This gives us an incredible population of 480 students attending Tuscany School.

We have become a cohesive team of teachers and support staff through the combined efforts of each and every individual. We have been involved in teaming conversations as well as program specific. Everyone is focused of building a culture of multi-linguistic approaches to teaching and learning while ensuring the focus of Early French Immersion quality for our students from Kindergarten to grade 4 and the quality of instruction through our community as we share common curricular outcomes.

From Kindergarten to Grade 2 there is an expectation that all subjects will be taught in French for the Early French Immersion program. One exception to the rule is our Music program. Mrs. Miller is not bilingual but she is a music specialist. Qualified Music teachers who speak French are difficult to find, even for Francophone schools. In dual track French Immersion schools where music teachers are unilingual the music curriculum is taught in English. As such, our classroom teachers collaborate with the Music teacher so children learn French songs and listen to French music.

School assemblies and celebrations will be shared in English and French components along with continuing to bring alive our understanding of Blackfoot. This will continue to showcase our dynamic learning environment that celebrates the beauty of languages.

I have had the great pleasure of spending time in all the classrooms and find students and teachers reflect the beauty of our Circle of Courage model, developing their sense of belonging, making connections and developing relationships. We have engaged in the instructional design of accessing the right staff at the right time and building a shared understanding and use of instructional spaces. Students have been finding new friendships throughout the grades and school. It is a pleasure to feel such vibrancy expanding into every room and our outdoor space.

I want to take a moment to offer an apology to our French Immersion families who missed out on the Welcome Back scones, coffee and conversation on September 6th . It came to my attention after the fact. I explored how our communication fell short and now our Administrative Team has closed the gaps to ensure the communication network between School Council and Tuscany School will include all those who subscribe. We look forward to the next Tuscany School event run by School Council that will include all families. Keep watching for emails via School Messenger.

If you are not receiving school emails through School Messenger please contact the office as we want to make sure everyone stays in the loop. Teachers will be running their blogs and sending out emails as well, so we want to know if you have changed any of your contact information such as email or telephone number.

During Parent Teacher School Conferences this week, teachers will present you with your child(ren’s) student  “Demographic” sheets.  We will ask that you please check these sheets to ensure we have all your current information and make any needed updates.

I want to take this time to thank our School Council members and parents at large for all their extraordinary work they do for our children. Our Welcome Back breakfast was fantastic and the assistance offered in the Learning Commons to process and shelve our new books was so astonishing.

We had a great turnout at our first School Council meeting last Thursday with 32 in attendance, 16 of which were new parents. The atmosphere was so genuine, filled with laughter and joy. I know this will continue to be an excellent forum for our families to come and ask questions, collaborate on ideas and sign up for amazing volunteer opportunities. Thank you all for taking the time to come.

I want to thank the Staff for some very heavy lifting from August 28th on.  It seems impossible to think we have only been back for two weeks and have accomplished so much! I love to hear the joy that fills the spaces even when children are not in the building.

Thank you to one and all!

Cindy White​

Jun 20
June Message

Here we are in June celebrating the conclusion of another great year at Tuscany School. I am breathless.

Last spring we started with a conversation with Stephanie Bartlett through our work with the Conoco Phillips grant that Mrs. Gainor received due to her incredible work with the staff and students around design thinking. If you recall this was last year’s project around redesigning the Gathering Space and turning it into what we have now. Ms. Bartlett approached us on behalf of our Elder Saa’kokoto to see if we would be interested in engaging in a writing project together. Without hesitation, we accepted. We were so honored to be asked​ to engage in this work. At the same time we had been chosen as one of Calgary Opera schools for the 2018-2019 school year.  Elder Saa’kokoto and I wondered if it would be possible to bring the Blackfoot culture and story telling into the process of designing an opera. We both had twinkles in our eyes as we said, “yes let’s”. Of course, we were surrounded by the extraordinary staff and students of Tuscany School along with the support of Ms. Bartlett so we were encouraged to realize our dream.

We began this year with our Elder Saa’kokoto in the coulee. During these beautiful moments, we were taught how to breathe in the fresh air and connect with the land throughout three seasons. We learned the importance of bringing our minds to a calmness and listening to the sounds of the coulee. We heard hawks calling to each other and witnessed chickadees flying in to surround us during story time and then fly away to new spaces. We watched as a deer “spronked” through the bushes with a golden retriever hot on her heels. And, low and behold, we saw our moose grazing in the coulee with her yearling by her side. This was the first time I had ever seen the moose and it was memorable as I stood with our Elder, Saa’kokoto, the children and staff. It seemed from that moment on we would be surrounded with this beautiful creature over and over again.

Our time with Elder Saa’kokoto took us from the coulee listening to his beautiful stories that had been shared with him over the years by his family to recordings and retellings. Children were able to revisit the sound of Saa’kokoto’s voice teaching them the Blackfoot terms for the plants and animals of the coulee. He taught them to count and to use greetings. It didn’t take very long before everyone was greeting each other with “Oki!” and when Saa’kokoto would arrive at our school students would run to give him hugs in greeting and tell him their stories. They took his hand to show him their work or putting his stories to print and accented his words with their drawings and representations of the land. They were so excited to share the writing process and receive his feedback. He helped them with their pronunciation of Blackfoot terms and taught them additional words as they became ready for new challenges. Saa’kokoto’s impact of staff and student learning was awe inspiring.

Children became so excited to deeply dig into the writing process and spent endless hours adding details. They reflected on their work and found this to be so engaging to learn about the Blackfoot culture through the stories of Saa’kokoto. They became attached to the characters and made references to them in other areas of their learning. They became so connected to the oral tradition of storytelling and connected easily with the script of the opera, which, so beautifully captured their journey into the Blackfoot Culture and the coulee through Elder Saa’kokoto.

The opera was the natural next step.

The children were introduced to Kris Demeanor and Darcy Turning Robe, musicians that had come together for the first time to compose the music and create lyrics for the opera. They worked with students through January and February teaching them the beauty of the collaboration of the Blackfoot culture with western style. Kris and Darcy played with lyrics, rhythms and the power of merging drums and guitars. The children were able to work with their recordings to practice and rehearse all of the music for the opera. Their joy was heartwarming. When the moose appeared on the playground, students in grade 2 began singing “Oki!” spontaneously. The teacher captured it on the iPad to share with me upon my return from a Principal’s meeting. 

The introduction of Lauren Woods, our director, to our team was such an amazing feat. Her incredible skill and talent were evident as students learned how to create the perfect stage movements and visual affects to showcase the script. She brought their skills to a whole new level of performance that surprised even the children.

Rebecca Reese was an exceptional find as our music teacher for the final three months of school. She was able to jump into the role and assist with the children learning the music and fine-tuning their skills. We are so grateful Ms. Reese was able to join us during this great time of need.

Winston Wadsworth and his family came to join us during the week of performances to provide the drumming. Winston and his son Thunder worked seamlessly through the performance bringing the Blackfoot sounds and sounds to an incredible new height. We are so grateful for their generous gift and hope to work with them in the future.

Our 4 performances were all full houses and we reached audiences of schools, CBE Senior Leaders, University of Calgary, Arts Foundation, Calgary Opera, Enbridge and our wonderful parents and extended family members. The word spread and we have so many people interested in our work with Saa’kokoto, Stephanie, Kris, Darcy, Winston, Thunder and Lauren. We are so proud of our students and the incredible journey we have taken through the wisdom and guidance of our Elder Saa’kokoto.

Our books have been published and shared out with schools, CBE Area Office and our students and families. You will find a complete set in the Calgary Public Library downtown so check them out the next time you visit that location.

We will be sharing out a video of the opera “Na’a’s Heartbeat” when it becomes available. We hired a company to video tape the performance in its entirety to make it available for those interested in seeing our work. 

We have so much respect for the all those who have supported, shared in and helped us to realize our dream. This includes all the parent volunteers who gave so much time and energy in creating costumes and set designs for our opera. The costumes were breathtaking and students became the characters so easily when they donned headpieces and wings, hard hats and suits, backpacks and vests. Everyone celebrates with us in the creation of this extraordinary story. The stories and songs continue to play in our minds.

What shall we do next?

First we need to share some staffing information with you.

As many of you may know we have “temporary” teachers on staff that joined us later in the year and each year they are let go off our staffing roster. So, at this time I wish to thank Rebecca Reese who came to join us for the last three months of the school year in the role of music teacher. Ms. Reese has done an exceptional job filling in for Ms. Miller and we want to thank her for all of her extraordinary work.

Ms. Arcure also joined us, or should I say “rejoined” us, for this year when our grade 3 numbers continued to grow during the month of September. Ms. Arcure is considered family around Tuscany School so we hope to see her back with us if possible.

Ms. Coggins, one of our ECPs or Early Childhood Practitioners will be leaving us at the end of the year. Ms. Coggins worked diligently in the EDC supporting student learning and was an essential person in the lives of our youngest and most vulnerable learners. Her talents are tremendous and we will miss her so much. We know she will be successful wherever she goes within EDC and wish her all the best.

Thanks goes to Bobbi Carde for her incredible support in the library during Yoshimi Mansey’s absence. Her knowledge and support helped us navigate the waters of our Learning Commons with such skill and ease. We are so grateful!

We have two retirements this year.

First, we are saying goodbye to Mr. Hansen in grade 1. Mr. Hansen has been such a valued member of the Tuscany family and it is difficult to say goodbye. We hope he will follow Mrs. Grose’s footsteps and get on the sub roster so we can continue to have him come back and support us but we know his heart may be focused on his beautiful grandchildren in the future.

Our second retirement is Mr. Zielke. Mr. Zielke has been the heart and soul of Tuscany School for so many years. He is known by so many and has had such a powerful impact on students and staff in such positive ways. We are not sure how we will be able to get along without him as he is such a valued member of our Tuscany family. We are going to miss him very, very much.

We will be adding 5 new teachers coming into the Early French Immersion program. You will be getting to know them once they begin their work. We welcome Chelsey Pynn from Sam Livingstone School, Kelley Ireland from Varsity Acres School, Genevieve Clarke from King George School, and Janet Meulenbroek from Mayland Heights School. We have 1.5 teachers to be placed in our program during the staffing process and will announce names later in August.

We have enough registrations to have 6 Kindergarten classes: 3 in the community and 3 for Early French Immersion. We have 4 classes of grades 1-4 inclusive of the Early French Immersion and Community. Our design will have them all together to share in the work and will have the school ready to go for September 3rd start.

Our Early Childhood Centre (EDC) is full for the start of September and we are eager to have the little ones start their journey with us. This successful program has provided such a rich foundational start to their journey. The staff is so amazing and work so hard to support students in their educational journey.

We are so excited to be looking forward. We have so much to be grateful for and so happy we are embarking on a new journey with our growth in multiple languages at Tuscany School. We are grateful to Ruth Radetzky, our Assistant Principal, for helping us grow into our new identity adding Early French Immersion to our profile. Her incredible hard work has made it so easy to build this expansion for Tuscany School and we look forward to continuing our work into September.

Thank you goes to Ed Bevans our cleaner for his endless efforts to help Alfred and all of us to maintain the beauty of our building and grounds, to Kathy Krause for being our front line voice and face in the office, to Yoshimi Mansey for her dedication to the Learning Commons and the Lead in our lunchroom program.

Thanks goes to our Lunchroom staff of Rasheeda, Maryam, Katarina, Chloe, Michelle, Bev for their continued support looking after our children over the lunch hour as well as reading with our students and supporting in in so many ways.

Thanks goes to Sheri, Cathy, Ana, and Karin for your love of children and serving their needs every day. You are such a tremendous help to us all and we cannot do without you supporting children in the way you do.

Thank you to an amazing teaching team who are never afraid of hard work and leaning in. You continue to lift children into their best selves.

Thank you to 3 people who lift me: Colleen Gainor, Keri Glowacki and Grant Jorgensen. This administrative team continue to inspire, encourage, support, calm, and care for everyone in this building and beyond. There are no words to express my gratitude for the heavy lifting you all do, every day.

Thank you to the incredible School Council and their dedication to the children of Tuscany. They come to meetings and take on roles. They show up to events and constantly cheer everyone on. They support each other and all the parents in the community. They offer guidance and wisdom through their endless devoted hours to ensure this school is the best possible environment for all children. You are an inspiration to all Councils everywhere. I am so looking forward to seeing you all again in September.

So, wherever you go, safe travels. Go with open eyes, open minds, loving hearts.  Let the children teach you their Blackfoot songs and share their Blackfoot stories and when you get the chance, give thanks to Na’a for her heartbeat. She is in all of us and guides our way.​

Apr 02
April Message

Happy April to all. It seems we just return from Spring Break and we are off and running for the final three months of school. This year we have lots going on.

Opera Project

Kris Demeanor has completed all his recordings and Darcy Turning Robe is in the process of putting finishing touches on his work. Children are practicing their songs in preparation of the next steps in the opera process. The Director, Lauren Woods, begins working with students this month. We are preparing a list of tasks that we will need help from our parent volunteer community such as costume creations and set design. We need to have Lauren’s final approval before sending it out for sign up and will continue to keep you posted as we progress along the timeline.

There will be three performances, one per day, during the first week in June. This is due to the incredible interest in our work with Saa’kokoto, Darcy Turning Robe, Kris Demeanor and Lauren Woods around developing an Indigenous Opera. It is a uniquely collaborative endeavour and as we share our work, Saa’kokoto and I have been receiving requests from a variety of community members, far and wide, to come and see the students perform. We will be sending invitations with an Eventbrite sign up embedded in the design. This way you will be able to go in and register for the performance that best suits your needs. The performances will be June 4 – 6, as follows:

·       June 4th at 9:30 a.m.

·       June 5th at 1:00 p.m.

·       June 6th at 5:00 p.m.

We will also be hosting Eric Harvie students to attend our dress rehearsal prior to the performances for other audiences to attend. We look forward to sharing our work with our K-4 Sister School.

Publishing Project

Our writing project with Saa’kokoto is continuing along nicely. All class projects have been completed and we are in the process of reviewing costs through publishing companies. These books will be completed and ready for sale at our opera performances during the first week of June. We are eagerly anticipating our series of books depicting our yearlong writing project with Saa’kokoto. The submissions are all based on our time together in the coulee listening to Saa’kokoto share stories of the land and its inhabitants. These books are truly a treasure to have.

French Immersion Transition Plan

On May 6 we are inviting all of the students transitioning from Varsity Acres and Banff Trail Schools to Tuscany School for the morning. We are designing 5 centres to help our new students become familiar with Tuscany School while bringing their voice to the design process. Staff of Tuscany School will be setting up a tipi under the careful eye and wisdom of our Elder, Saa’kokoto. He will be running one of the centres to discuss “moving camp” with the students. This entails stories about giving thanks to an area that has provided so much of its resources, beauty and nourishment before moving to another location. There are lessons about what the group needs to take with them and how they will bring their gifts with them to the next location. Mrs. Gainor and Mrs. Glowacki will be running centres around design thinking. One will be a chance to bring ideas and what is important from Varsity and Banff Trail Schools. The other will bring student voice to the design process of creating spaces that reflect the beauty of languages alive visually. Students will bring their thinking to the design process and see how they can influence the way Tuscany School can reflect multilingualism throughout the school. Mr. Jorgensen will run tours through the building so students can become familiar with what is already here and where things are. Students will be able to engage in conversation and have a snack during this time. I will be reading a story called “What do you do with a chance?” to look at ways we can bring our strength and courage to times of change and see opportunities presenting themselves.

Our grade 4 students will be able to help guide the students as they work with Tuscany children from K-4 through the design thinking process. Our grade 4 leaders have shown themselves to be ready for the transition to middle school in the fall and will be excellent role models supporting children as they transition through the centres.

Our students will spend the afternoon rotating through time with Saa’kokoto for tipi teachings. This way everyone will be able to receive greater understanding about the tipi and its important role in the lives of our Indigenous families.

Volunteer Tea

We are going to do something different this year with our Volunteer Tea dates. We know so many will be involved with the development of our Indigenous Opera that we would like to wait until later in June to host our Volunteer Tea. Some of you would like to be able to book time off from work to attend so I wanted you to know in advance. We will send out dates later in the month once we have confirmed dates and times.

So enjoy the last of the snow and the warming of the earth in preparation of brand new growth. This is always a beautiful season to watch the buds form on the trees and Mrs. Batchelor pull out the tools for gardening, checking them for any repairs in preparation of what’s coming.

Don’t forget to vote!​

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Notre champs de citrouille incroyable! Un autre exemple des comment les élèves, parents, et l'école Tuscany viens ensemble! Our incredible Pumpkin Patches! Another great display of Tuscany students, staff and parents coming together! https://t.co/3ZzFk0tRbk