Our chief superintended Christopher Usih is visiting our school on Monday, October 19.
I am looking forward to discuss CWS with him.
The Grade 4, 5 and 6 completed the survey OurSchool this week. The grade 6 students met three questions that had them stumped. These questions involved their parents – you! The questions were: did your mom/dad/step-parents finish high school? Did you attend a college/trade school? Did you earn a bachelor degree? I was very surprised to find out that most students did NOT know the answer to these questions. When I asked, I got replies like: My dad fixes stuff/My mom goes to work and comes back home/My mom helps people.
I encourage you, over dinner, to speak with your child/ren about your education, your educational journey and your job! It is important for them to hear about your journey – including the struggles you may have faced and how you overcame them. Life is messy and kids need to know that that is ok.
This week, I spent Tuesday and Wednesday morning covering the kindergarten class. We worked on their usual centres, but they also learned about Brain Gym and how to ‘light up’ their brain. Excellent activities for any student (and also adults!). Go and check it out!
Thanksgiving is around the corner. It is an important habit to reflect together with children on all the things we can, and should be, thankful for. While many of us are fortunate enough not to have to worry about daily things like food, shelter and clothing, it is important to remember that we need to be thankful for them. The year of 2020 has seen the most health issues my parents, as a couple, have ever faced together: My mom needed a mastectomy of her left breast after surviving breast cancer in 1998 on the other side. She is well again, but each time we speak, I'm grateful for still having my mom in my life. My father who has been the strongest, fittest man I know, suddenly hurt all over in January, hence didn't want to move any longer. Because he didn't want to get up again, I booked a flight for spring break to give him a reason to 'get up again'. We all know that I never got to get on that flight. He's had two surgeries up to now and the doctors still don't know what is causing his white blood cell count to be so incredibly high – where the source of the infection is.
I have once read: If you are healthy, you wish for so many THINGS. If you are sick, you only wish for one thing: your HEALTH. As you come together with your families this weekend, I encourage you to take the time to share with each other what you are thankful for. Also share with everyone why they are important to you. We get so very busy at times, that we forget to share the most important thing: You matter to me. My life is better because you are in it. You always support me by ….
I'm thankful for my parents still being with us. My sons, their spouses and little Alina. I'm thankful to call CWS my 'home' that has no busses, small class sizes, large class rooms, and a sink in each class with a wonderful staff and an incredibly supportive parent community. Thank you!
Supporting student well-being for learning means that we intentionally incorporate the following into our daily time that we spend with students:
- Use of daily check ins (typically at the door when students walk in first thing in the morning/after recess/after lunch)
- Ensuring students know expectations during transition times
- Relationship building activities
- Personal 1on1 time to connect
- Personalized learning
- Humor, celebrating strengths, class events
- Firm but fair boundaries with clear and consistent expectations
- Predictable routines
- Increased physical literacy and movement opportunities
- Use of common language
- Creating engaging and meaningful learning experiences
Dear parents, many of these also apply to your life at home with your child/ren. If you have more than one child, try to schedule individual ‘special’ times with each of them sometimes. Children treasure time spent with just one parent. The most important one: have few but consistently enforced rules & expectations at home. Having 20 rules and none that ‘stick’ is not helpful. Having three that are always enforced is much better. Children will test your boundaries most days – and feel safe when your expectations remain the same!!!
Predictable routines also help your child/ren feel safe/reduces anxiety. Knowing that there is a little play time when coming home, followed by dinner, followed by playtime outside/inside, followed by taking a bath, brushing teeth and being read to/sung to when going to bed (or reading together) and cuddling up for five minutes.
As many of you know, I grew up in a hamlet, farming. How small was that hamlet? It had one road that led through it, maybe 40 people. While I was little, it was great fun to run wild: through the forest, the fields, the grass, swim in the lake, play in the river. And, how could I forget, chores! As I got older though, I realized that I really, really wanted a different lifestyle. Education was one way to change my life. Moreover, my father was born one year before WW2 broke out. He started school just before the war ended and many, many refugees lived in the area. The story I grew up with was: One refugee had been a city magistrate in Prussia prior to the war. A very educated man. Very poor in the 1940s. But: when life went back to normal after the war, within 5 years, he was back in city administration. His education gave him a new start in a new part of the country. So when Oprah Winfrey says:" Education is the key to unlocking the world, a passport to freedom." I agree with her. If you want to change your life, then you need to learn as much as you can.
Dear Parents & Guardians,
The SOGO residency was well received by staff and students alike. Spending time with the kindergarten day each morning to meet the supervision ratio allowed me to get to know the whole class. On the first day, each class participated in a scavenger hunt. The flags were set up in a wide circle. What was interesting to observe was how the students organized their search: some would randomly run from one flag to the next they saw, not realizing that all flags were sort of arranged in a large circle. Some youngsters ran so so much, because they didn’t make any plan at all (they are kindergarten after all), hence covering a huge distance! Some showed some sort of organization/awareness of what might be the more efficient way of collecting all the information, as they always checked all the flags that were sort of in a cluster together … then they’d randomly run to the next cluster (which was not necessarily the nearest one in the circle). The students enjoyed their time outside. I enjoyed their red cheeks and seeing their delight in finding the last one missing ‘item’. They all ran hard for their whole time and they did help each other when they sometimes stopped to say “Hey, I’m still missing …., have you found it yet?”
Dear Parents & Guardians and Students!
Welcome to the 2020-21 school year! I hope that you are as excited to return to school in September as I am. Jody Carrington in “Kids These Days” states: “We are wired for connection!” (p. 22). For best learning to happen, teachers need to build that connection with their students. We have missed our students at CWS! We want to reignite our connections! This will be our first and foremost goal during our first days back at school (while following all AHS guidelines - but more on that in a later message).
While some of our routines will be different, I would like to to point out why I feel confident going back to school at Colonel Walker:
- We don’t have bussed students
- We have large classrooms with windows that open, allowing for good air flow
- We have small class sizes
- Each classroom has a sink, so washing hands is easy
- We are a small school
- We have lots of outdoor space available for us
- The kindergarten class even has their own toilet in the classroom!
To kick off the year with something new and exciting, we are happy to announce that we have the SOGO Orienteering residency running from September 14-18. You will receive forms on the first day back to school. Thank you to the CWS School Council for paying for this amazing fun learning opportunity for our students at CWS!
We are also excited to share some new Colonel Walker School clothing articles with you (again, more later).
A formal letter with a lot of detailed information about how re-entry will look like at CWS is on the back to school page.
Looking forward to seeing all of you again.
Meike Thomsen, Principal
Dear Parents & Guardians,
Schools do not function in isolation. What happens in our
communities (small and large) affects us. Us, the staff; you - the families.
The conversations we have at the dinner table shape the perspective/lens
through which our children view the world. Personally, I love the fact that
most of our public schools have student populations that come from around the
globe. Schools, in which sometimes 54 non-English home languages are spoken. My
own family consists of three different home languages! I could write much more
about this, but I will stop with this quote by Martin Luther King, Jr.: “Darkness cannot drive out
darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do
Dear Parents & Guardians,
As we are heading into the first week of June, consider the following:
One of Buddha’s sayings is: “It is your resistance to ‘what is’ that causes your suffering.” We all know that we can’t change ‘what is’ at this moment in time. What we do control, however, is how we let it affect us. We either allow negativity to build, which means that we give away our agency, our power, our control!
We accept ‘what is’ and keep our agency, our power, our control!
I don’t like to be miserable! In order to be happy, I had to stop resisting ‘what is’. I had to accept/embrace it. As Reinhold Niebuhr once said (and I am paraphrasing his famous quote!): Change the things you can change and accept the ones you cannot.
I am thinking about our CWS students & families each day. I am hoping that you have all found new ways of being, that you have all accepted the ‘what is’ of our current time. When I was a young single mother with two young children, going to university and being so, so broke, my sons would sometimes say: “Mommy, why can’t we ….?” I would always reply: “We don’t have much, but we have many things to be thankful for. Count them with me, boys: We have a roof over our head; we are sleeping in a warm bed; we had breakfast, lunch and dinner; we have 4 grand-parents who love us deeply; we live in a wonderful country; it is peaceful in this country; we have clean water; we are safe; we can see a doctor if we need one etc.”
I encourage all of you to count your blessing, count the things you can be thankful for. Make it a family game! Discuss with your child/ren what a person can be thankful for, brainstorm together and then make a family list! Put it up on your fridge and look at it if you have a ‘blue’ moment. I assure you: it will help.
These past couple of weeks, I have been grateful for the passing of winter, the sunshine awakening my garden, melting the snow and allowing me to work the land. Watching first the snowdrops coming up and now the tulips, daffodils and hyacinths blooming while the cornflowers, peonies, clematis and salad are growing. I find nothing more calming and nurturing that getting my hands dirty in the soil, watching insects scurry away as I turn over rotten leaves. My garden is my happy. What is yours?
Dear Parents & Guardians,
On Wednesday, May 20, we will be holding our second school council meeting via SKYPE. If you are interested in attending, please send me an email so I can send you the link to the Skype meeting. Thank you.
Sadly, there will be NO kindergarten orientation this year due to COVID19. Please share with families and friends who have a kindergarten student starting at CWS in the fall. Thank you.
French as a Second Language at CWS
Starting in September, we will be having our Grade 4, 5, 6 students attend FSL lessons of 40 minutes - four times a week (Monday to Thursday). This will be considerably more than this year, as we ‘dappled our toes’ in FSL.
In September, we will be following the Alberta Education guideline for the Grade 4-9 instructional minutes for FSL. Personally, I’m very excited as this means that our Grade 6 students will be in an excellent position to go into Late French Immersion for Grade 7 at Elboya School! Because of this, we will be looking for a new staff member to join us who is fluent in French.
I will be sharing staffing updates/changes at the school council meeting on Wednesday next week.
Hope this finds you and your families well. Spring has sprung. This is a long weekend and I hope you will be enjoying much time outside in the sunshine!
Dear Parents & Guardians,
It is hard to believe that we have now finished the fourth week of ‘ongoing learning’ in an online format. I have participated in a number of Google Meets and enjoyed seeing so many smiling and familiar faces.
Thursday: What a DRIVE BY it was! Families riding on bikes, in cars honking and waving, kids who had made posters for Ms. Sharon, families walking by! It was amazing to see the large number of families and students who came out at noon to wave ‘Good bye’ to Ms. Sharon and to see their teachers. If I had to guess, I would say that 80 adults and children participated. The staff all stood with their home-made posters, sending messages to their students. One family brought in coffee and treats for all staff to express their gratitude for all they have done/do/will do. Thank you to all of you for participating and thank you to Ms. Tammy for organizing this special event. Many photos were taken and a movie is being worked on! Hopefully, we can share it soon!
I would like to share some great quotes that span the centuries – yet all express my foundational belief when it comes to education. I hope you enjoy them.
When schools flourish, all flourish. – Martin Luther (1483-1546)
The good education of youth has been esteemed by wise men of all ages, as the surest foundation of the happiness both of private families and of commonwealths. – Benjamin Franklin (1706-1933)
If a man empties his purse into his head, no man can take it away from him, for an investment in knowledge pays the best interest. – Joseph E. O’Donnell ,Jr. (1961-)
Few expenditures we can make yield a greater return than those for education. A well-educated person produces more and consumes more, makes wiser decisions at the pools, mounts a stronger defense against aggression, and is better able to perform the grave responsibilities of […] citizenship. – Ralp J. Cordiner (1900- )
Parent Technical Support
Client Technology Services will be creating a Parent Technical Support service to assist parents and students at home. Client Technology Services will be able to take phone and email requests to help with connecting to Brightspace and GSuite as well as technical issues that the students are experiencing. The launch date is May 1, with more details to come.
Meike Thomsen, Principal
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