Our hip-hop dance residency put on by Pulse Dance Studios was a huge success. Student engagement across all grades was high and the performance today was stellar. We had at least one hundred parents in attendance to view the event and the gym was rockin' to some familiar dance hits from back when I was in Junior High! Thank you so much to the fundraising efforts from our families to make these enrichment opportunities happen!
Our staff are excited to be back after our Winter Break. As we approach our first report cards on Jan. 30, our students will be learning hip hop dance in partnership with Pulse Dance studios. Students will also be able to participate in some extra-curricular activities as we move into the spring including basketball and floor hockey.
Thanks to the generous fundraising efforts of our parent community, the Elbow Park Parent Society is funding on-site activities that include Pulse Hip Hop dance, Nordic Skiing, and Mad Science. We also look forward to our artist residency in February which also serves as a fundraising auction for families to purchase the student paintings.
We would like to thank all of our students and parents for their unwavering support this school year.
It was a highlight to have Jessie, a Metis-Cree land consultant, work with our students and tell them stories from the land. We also had the pleasure of working with Jeff Stockton, a master story-teller, who taught our students how to be in front of an audience with confidence and tell a story.
It was great to see students on field trips again this spring: our Grade 5-6 students downtown exploring architecture, our Grade 1-2s at Granary Road and our Kindergartners at the Zoo.
To host a talent show with about 70 students participating and having our Grade 6 students walk the stage for their farewell again - amazing!
We wish everyone a safe and exciting summer holiday!
The last day of school – a remarkable day in any year but especially significant this school year given that it was in-person and at the end of June! Never in my career did I think those two things could be taken for granted. For me, they are the light at what has been at the end of a very long tunnel. I know it was so important for all of our staff to be able to finish off our school year in this fashion, and I can only imagine the sense of hope that it creates for our children as we look forward to next school year.
We have received frequent positive feedback from our parent community about how well we have navigated the storm this year and I have repeated many times that it is due mainly as a result of how all of our families have done their part. That includes supporting our many guidelines and restrictions including the many phone calls we made requesting your child to go home and isolate due to symptoms. Thank you for that.
Our children have modeled resilience and adaptability as they have lived in a considerably more public space than many of their parents did through the pandemic. This is notable, worth celebrating, and as adults, worth some self-reflection around flexibility.
On that note of adjusting to change, it is worth mentioning that our teacher staffing has been adjusted for September. With a drop in student enrolment to previous year's levels, with Miss Hunt retiring and a return to two Grade 5-6 homerooms rather than three this year, students can expect that they may have a different homeroom teacher in their second year within the grade groupings. Please remember that it is only because of our multi-age classrooms that our students typically have the same teacher for two years, and it is normal in larger school settings for students to have a new homeroom teacher every year.
In the absence of an appreciation tea for parents, we felt that a public gesture of thanks was the least we could do noting your efforts as parents. Each of our homerooms made an effort to paint letters and spell out a message in the windows on the west side of our school. It spells, “We love our parent community." See the photo below.
From all of us here, have a safe summer and see you in September.
I wanted to take a moment and share that despite being an exceptionally challenging week for our learning community with positive COVID cases, the many emails, comments and gestures of kindness have been inspiring and heartfelt. The generosity offered to families and staff during this trying time is a reflection of the caring nature from this community. It is such a pleasure to be a part of the greater Elbow Park family, and these acts serve as models of behaviour for your children. Kindness is learned through observation and modeling. Some things are caught, not taught.
Wishing everyone a restful spring break,
I would like to take a moment to share my reflections on this first part of the 2020-21 school year with you. As a community, you have always placed a lot of trust in us to care for and educate your children. As a parent myself, I know how much more you have been depending on us this school year to best serve your children in the context of a pandemic. We do not take this responsibility lightly and we rely on the relationship between home and school for students to be successful.
Thank you for being such a generous community, not only with donations for those in need at JSM but with your kind words of encouragement and support for our staff as we navigate countless changes to our practice of teaching.
Our school's current level of morale remains very positive and it comes not only from our camaraderie as a staff and the culture we have created in our building, but also is encouraged by the positivity and willingness to accept change as modeled by your children. They have shown a level of resilience and energy that is contagious for the adults. Thank you for the hard work you do at home in supporting their mental health as your families have had to navigate longer absences from school and increased accountability in meeting provincial guidelines around attendance.
We are all looking forward to a restful Break and our staff wish all of you the best as we end this calendar year. We will see you in the New Year – stay healthy!
Happy Holidays to all.
Dear Parents and Guardians:
I hope that this notice finds you healthy at home. Our city seems to be settling into a new normal as we have at our school. Our teachers have been hard at work this week, reviewing resources that I know that they are sharing with you, along with documenting recent progress of your children based on what they last saw in the classroom setting. We know that learning will look different after Spring Break, but we want you to know that our teachers are ready to embrace this and ensure that your children will find ways to stay connected to our amazing learning community.
As you know from recent communications, the CBE has prioritized the rollout of online learning for our high school students, followed by junior high students. After the Spring Break, elementary schools will have direction from the CBE in regards to curriculum delivery. We hope that you have been able to utilize the recommended resources for Learning at Home that CBE has provided earlier this week, as well as some of the other tools that our homeroom teachers have shared with you.
I can share that my three boys (Grades 8, 6 and 3) have been kept busy at home, despite their objections, with having two parents as educators. We have adhered to a schedule at home for them, mainly for our sanity as parents, that consists of 30 minute blocks of time starting with reading, mathematics, and a body break in the morning. We then move on to writing, current events and an inquiry project of their choice in the afternoon. An interesting prompt that we found was the heroes project from Marvel comics. What is your superpower and how can you use it to make a difference?
If you are having trouble getting your kids outside, as we sometimes do, we have followed the inspiration that Timbernook has provided us at school. Our kids love having “loose parts” outside in the yard. I went behind our shed and pulled out some old fence boards, buckets, stumps, lattice and shovels. Before we knew it, they each had built some kind of fort in the snow and 45 minutes went by very quickly.
On the note of wellness and anxiety, my children have asked some good questions about the virus, but we also had to ask them in a moment of calm (in their beds), how they were feeling about our new normal. They each expressed a quiet acceptance of what was happening with a little bit of worry, but they appreciated a sense of calm and routine at home. We have been honest with them about the facts while not fixating on them.
As you may know, our teachers wanted to find a way to make a statement in our learning community, and so we chose to use the west windows of our school (picture) to share the message that was in the news earlier this week after Mayor Nenshi spoke, “Clean Hands, Clear Minds, Open Hearts.” We hoped that would offer some inspiration or offer a good reminder to the community for everyone to do their part. There are many ways that our society is getting positive messages out to the public. Take a listen to the "Corona Helper" song. It's written by Calgary musician Steve Dodd, with singer Jenn Beaupre helping out on vocals. Steve was inspired by advice handed out by Dr. Raj Bhardwaj on CBC radio.
The CBE has provided a variety of mental health resources that are uploaded to our Parent Resources page. They include tips from the World Health Organization, NASP (National Assoc. of School Psychologists), a social story for children to understand what COVID19 is and some other basic suggestions on how to speak with your children about the virus.
Please use the Spring Break to connect with your children and play some board games. We dug out Clue and Risk last night after dinner and our kids were shocked at how fun an old-school game can connect everyone in an authentic manner, without being online. This speaks a little to how easy it is these days to off-load our parenting (not intended as a criticism) to service providers as we access the many opportunities in our city for organized activities. Now that most of these are closed or are about to be, this may be an adjustment for us parents at home. Now we need to engage and provide guidance for our kids. There is a “Stay at Home Challenge” put on by Parenting Power that may be worth checking out. They also offer some advice for parents on how to support your children through this pandemic – check out this podcast.
On the note of wellness, your community must be praised for the continued generosity that you show to families in need at James Short Memorial School. Principal Zelmer was blown away by the response in such a short time that totalled close to $4000 in Superstore giftcards. She has many families who are on school fee-waivers and breakfast/lunch programs at school that benefitted from this initiative. The families expressed their gratitude to her, many with a sense of relief. Know thy impact! Thank you to those who helped organize with this collection.
All of us at Elbow Park School look forward to connecting with you again on March 30 after we return from Spring Break.
Thank you for all of your support and understanding over the last two weeks.
Possibilities. This is our guiding theme for the school year. It will shape and influence our attitudes towards learning and inspire both our students and teachers through the work that they do. Our teachers have been on a journey of professional development to create tasks that utilize higher order thinking skills to challenge students in exploring their depth of conceptual understanding. Students will be engaging in project work that make them invent, analyze, compare and synthesize information. Our Friday schedule this year is dedicated to project work and developing a “makerspace” and “design-thinking” mindset. We look forward to engaging with organizations to support this work, including Beakerhead and Let’s Talk Science.
According to a joint research project, The Class of 2030 and Life-Ready Learning, by Microsoft and the McKinsey Global Institute, “by the time today’s kindergartners enter the workforce, activities will substantially change across most occupations and will increasingly require the application of expertise and creative problem solving, as well as collaboration, management, and the development of people.” The Class of 2030 needs to have strong social-emotional skills to have better perspective and resilience to deal with change. As automation continues to affect the workforce, demand for low-skill jobs will decline, and those that require interactions between people, and creative problem solving will rise. Technology professionals, care providers, architects, managers and professionals (engineers, lawyers, and scientists) will be in increasing demand. Skills currently missing from applicants for entry-level positions include teamwork, work ethic, leadership, problem solving, and creativity.
Our scheduled mindfulness period after lunch allows teachers to spend a dedicated period of time to covering our Health curriculum in the context of wellness, along with intentional movement breaks throughout the day. We are also incorporating the concept of loose parts on our playground after a presentation to our staff hosted by Timbernook, a program grounded in the philosophy that children flourish when given the time and space to play in sensory-rich, experiential learning environments. We have noticed that many of our students now choose creative play with the loose-parts instead of competitive sports or the playground structure.
Thank you to all the parents/guardians who attended our Meet the Teacher evening on September 5. Our Parent-Teacher conferences are coming up on November 21 and 22. These will be booked interviews with the teachers and the purpose is to provide you with initial feedback regarding your child’s academic and social-emotional progress to date. Aside from this meeting and our Student-Led Conferences in March, teachers will communicate throughout the year about your child’s learning. This may happen through personal correspondence, face to face meetings, and emails through School Messenger. If at any time you wish to initiate communication about your child’s progress, please make an appointment with your child’s teacher so that proper time and attention can be given to the conversation. Please refrain from catching teachers at the classroom door without notice before or after school as this is a very busy time for both our staff and students.
The Calgary Board of Education Three Year Plan continues to be used as a framework to personalize learning for all students. In response to the CBE Three-Year Plan, our staff will continue to engage in Professional Learning Communities and development opportunities with a focus on the CBE’s Literacy Strategy, specifically to do with reading comprehension at a deeper level. As new reporting and assessment guidelines have also been established in the CBE this year, staff continue to work through research-based strategies to document and assess up to date student data to inform next steps in learning.
Though it may seem like high school is far away from now for your child, the CBE is currently encouraging parents to engage with their initiative around High School Success through the Shaping the Future of CBE Schools webpage. With continuing growth in enrollment and many CBE high schools over capacity, the CBE is looking for input and creative problem-solving to meet the needs of students now, and in the future. Please visit the webpage for more information and to engage with in-person dialogue sessions for parents.
Thank you so much to our students and parent community for making our school such an amazing place to learn. Your support throughout the year is greatly appreciated.
As students have settled into their classrooms and teachers are busy building those ever-so important relationships with their students, it gives me a moment to pause and reflect on where we’ve come since this time last school year.
2017-18 was an amazing year for our learning community with building new and re-establishing some old traditions at our school. We hosted many family-oriented events including: Fall Fair, Halloween Dance, Winter concert, James Short Memorial School Wrap-Up, Stampede Breakfast, and the Bermuda Shorts Day Dad’s BBQ. Thank you so much to the Parent Society and Parent Council members and committee volunteers for their countless hours and valued donations in supporting those events through the year.
Since returning to our building in February 2017, we have continued to make improvements to our lovely facility. With an increase in student enrolment by about 20 students since last school year, we needed to make our atrium outside of our gymnasium into a proper classroom. We added walls with sliding doors on each end of the space to enclose what is now our kindergarten room. With donations from parents and Parent Society, we have prioritized an outdoor improvement plan to revitalize our learning spaces surrounding the school. We planted a number of trees and shrubs that were sourced and planted by Bow Point Nursery. They include two cherry trees out front, and pear, larch, pussy willow and poplar trees around our outdoor classroom. On the south side of the school to offer shade in our gymnasium, we planted poplar trees that were propagated from the original trees along Memorial Drive - a unique piece of Calgary’s history now at our school. We will be expanding our existing asphalt compound by the end of September to include a basketball court and other compound games. Again, thank you parents for enhancing our learning spaces.
The theme for our whole school inquiry this year is: The impact of the Elbow River over time on our land and people. This focus on “impact” will offer many cross-curricular opportunities for learning and will also be supported by a theatre residency in February, 2019. We secured funding both through Parent Society and the Alberta Foundation for the Arts for this and many other residencies. We believe that residencies, such as the ones from last year that included Nordic Skiing and Sound Kreations dance studio, are excellent ways to supplement our curricular learning experiences with experts from our extended community.
We are excited for what this school year has to bring, and we want to thank all of our families, new and old, for supporting us through a very busy time of year. If you would like to be involved in supporting many of the initiatives that happen at our school, please attend our parent council meetings. The first one is on Wednesday, September 19th at 2:00 p.m. See the posted agenda on our School Council page.
A return to school in the New Year after our winter break has come with an energy to take our learning community in a direction of providing new opportunities for our students. We have had a number of extra-curricular clubs start up over the lunch hour, providing our students with unique opportunities to express themselves and or learn new skills. This includes the use of our school's 3D printer generously donated by our School Council (see our Clubs page under the Extracurricular menu on our website for more detailed information).
A recent example of the generosity of our parent community comes with our most recent Artist Residency with Chlan Grant (http://wallcandyartstudio.com/). Chlan generously donated her time and artistic ability to provide our students with an opportunity to produce authentic paintings that students were able to contribute to. The themes of the paintings were grounded in curricular content by grade level, and then in class, students studied the artist whose work they replicated. These paintings will make up the works that parents can purchase through an auction at a fundraising event for our school in the spring. We had many parent volunteers in the school for two days working alongside Chlan to ensure that every student was able to paint a part of their class' piece. A huge thankyou goes out to Chlan and all of the parents who were able to assist in making this activity for our students such a success.
Another residency for our students will begin at the end of February, when Nick Johnson (http://www.nicksoup.com/) will be working with all of our classes (K-6) to use cartooning and visualization to enhance their writing and reading comprehension skills. Financial support for this residency comes from Classroom Improvement Funding provided by Alberta Education that was applied for to support our reading comprehension goals in our School Development Plan.
As a staff, we often refer to how generous our parent community is with their time donated to support various initiatives in our school. This includes the many charitable acts directed towards the learning communities at James Short Memorial School (K-2) and G. W. Skeene School (grades 3-5). Our school community has traditionally supported these learning communities over many years. We know that our students have the same drive and desire to make a difference as their parents do, and so we are exploring ways in which we can bring these opportunities into the classroom. We want our students to see the difference the generosity of this community makes through authentic learning experiences with students at other schools. We know that students learn best and are highly engaged when their learning experiences engage them in purposeful collaboration to solve real problems and that teacher practice also improves with collaboration among colleagues as they design tasks and share instructional and assessment strategies with one another. Our school has participated in two such planning days with the staffs of both of our partner schools this year and we have some exciting learning opportunities coming up for all of the students through the spring.
Our School Board this year is highly focused on assessment calibration between teachers across our System and much of our professional development and conversations have been on that topic. Our hope is to be more consistent with our grading practices as we report on student achievement using achievement indicators (1-4) on our report cards. These assessment conversations are grounded in our school's focus on improving the depth of our students' reading comprehension skills and their working knowledge with rational numbers in mathematics. Our professional development days at the school have used assessment as an over-arching theme throughout our intentional work to improve literacy and math instruction for our students.
We are looking forward to our fundraising event with families in the spring as we auction off the student-created paintings and the exciting learning opportunities coming for our students.
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