While June is an exciting final month of learning together, it has also been a heavy month of truth in Canada. The discovery of 215 children found buried at Kamloops Indian Residential School was quickly been followed by the discovery of other unmarked graves at now defunct residential schools across Canada. As mentioned in our last administrator message, students feel strongly about this news and have responded by wearing orange, expressing their feelings through art, and communicating a desire to learn and know more.
During June, Canada's National Indigenous History Month, EMJ students and staff have actively worked to renew our commitment towards developing our own foundational knowledge about residential schools. As with all learning, teachers are thoughtful that our conversations are developmentally appropriate and respectful of the personal connections many our students and families hold in their hearts.
Thomas King has taught us, “The truth about stories is, that's all we are". With this in mind, story continues to bring us together to guide EMJ's Commitment to Truth and Reconciliation and develop our shared capacity for intercultural understanding, empathy and respect. June has been a time for EMJ students to learn through story to honor Canada's Indigenous History in different ways.
Grade one students have been learning about the history of story and understanding the importance of oral storytelling. They are developing understanding about why stories are told many times and that stories themselves are meant to teach. Students continue to reflect on the lessons they learn from Indigenous stories shared orally, within favourite picture books, episodes from the animated series Wapos Bay, and through throat singing and art. One student shared, “I learned I can't just think about me… I need to think about everyone."
Grade six students continue their regular Song of the Week analysis, looking closely at the lyrics from different songs. Most recently they have engaged in deep reading of the lyrics from the song “The Stranger" by Gord Downie. Students reflected on what the words mean to them and annotated the song lyrics, sharing thoughtful inferences helping them think about the lasting impact of residential schools in deep and meaningful ways.
Grade four students also spent time this month looking at stories expressed through song and art. The song “WE WON'T FORGET YOU" written, recorded and filmed with students from Sk'elep School of Excellence in Kamloops, British Columbia brought messages of truth and hope into their classroom conversations. These examples are just a brief window into the learning that is part of EMJ's Commitment to Action for Truth and Reconciliation. We continue our collective commitment towards developing understanding of and taking actionable steps recommended in the The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada's Calls to Action. We will be recognizing National Indigenous Peoples Day on Monday, June 21 and Aboriginal Awareness Week in Calgary from June 21 – 25 as we commit to walking this path, in and through stories, together.
Below is a message sent this week on behalf of the Board of Trustees:
The Calgary Board of Education joins Canadians across the country in honouring the lives lost at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School. We encourage everyone to take a moment to reflect on the lives of these children and their families.
In response to the tragedy, flags at Calgary Board of Education schools and buildings will be lowered to half-mast starting Monday, May 31 until Friday, June 4.
Staff and students are encouraged to wear an orange shirt next week to show solidarity with residential school survivors and help send the message that every child matters. More information about the history of Orange Shirt Day and the significance of the orange shirt can found on the official website.
We continue to support the implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action as part of the CBE's system Indigenous Education Holistic Lifelong Learning Framework.
The CBE acknowledges the words of Murray Sinclair, Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: “Education is how we will heal, teaching our children that we are all equal is how we will stop racism and bring about reconciliation."
Survivors of the Indian Residential School system can get support through the 24/7 crisis line (1-866-925-4419), and additional support is available through the Kids Help Phone (1-800-668-6868). Support is available to CBE employees through Homewood Health (1-800-663-1142).
At EMJ this week, many of our students wore orange, and had opportunities to reflect and think about the significance of both our history, as well as our role moving forward. Students created an orange heart board, with 215 orange hearts representing the lost lives at the Kamloops Residential School. This will be ongoing, important work that we will continue to take up as a school.
June 21 - National Indigenous Peoples Day
June 21 - 25 Aboriginal Awareness Week in Calgary
June 26 - Report Cards available for viewing on PowerSchool
June 29 - Early Dismissal at 12:15 pm - Last Day of Classes
June 30 - Appeals Day by Appointment
As announced by the provincial government on Tuesday, May 4, 2021 all students in Kindergarten to grade 12 across the province will shift to online learning beginning Friday May 7. This means that classes will be online starting this Friday, with a potential return to in school learning on Tuesday, May 25, 2021.
Ethel M Johnson School will be offering online programming for students in kindergarten to grade six, as well as the Learning and Literacy program. Teachers are currently putting together plans to shift learning to an online environment. This will include a mix of whole class lessons, small group lessons, individual support, as well as independent work.
We will be working hard to provide the best opportunity for your child to access learning opportunities as consistently as possible. We have been asked to continue to update attendance records during online learning, so if your child needs to be away at any time please let your child's teacher know.
If you have any questions about your child's individual learning, please contact the appropriate teacher directly.
Please note that blogs will be temporarily suspended during online learning.
On the first Wednesday in May, Albertans are invited to wear a hat to raise awareness of the importance of good mental health. EMJ will relax our hat rules and encourage students and teachers to build understanding by wearing hats to school. Students will also participate in classroom discussions around understanding mental health and the importance of removing the stigma associated with mental illnesses.
An important part of healthy living is being able to identify emotions and regulate ones' emotions towards good mental health. During times of stress, this can become more challenging. At school, students are supported to build their vocabulary to use words to describe how they are feeling. Students learn how to use regulation strategies to 'reset'; examples of strategies we coach students to use every day include spending time outdoors, moving their body, taking a break for a drink of water or snack, and also just pausing for a short moment to take deep breaths.
Movies such as 'Inside Out' are great conversation openers you could use at home. It is important that every EMJ student has a trusted adult at school and home to turn to when they are feeling strong emotions such as being scared, sad or angry. As adults, we can help them understand what they are feeling and build their skills towards becoming resilient adults. Alberta Health offers many free workshops for parents to support children with mental health and other healthy living priorities. Additional resources for parents can be found on the Caring for Kids website and resoures for children to access can be found on the Kids Help Phone website.
Next week, we hope EMJ students proudly wear their hats to school on Wednesday to show their support of mental health and all the ways our community cares for each other!
This week EMJ students joined the world in celebrating Earth Day. It was an opportunity to renew our commitment to taking care of our world. We would like to extend a big thank you Mark E. for helping with EMJ's front garden project. The rototilling and soil delivery meant some of our grade four students could immediately build on their initial excitement around the project and start to journal some specific design ideas.
Most classes connected this important week with our School Development Plan goal around writing. Our EES students explored their senses using a marbling art technique and worked on producing a sentence connected to their individual learning goals. Our grade one students created a postcard with an acrostic poem to share their ideas about how they can take care of this wonderful place we live. Grade three created letters and poems as gifts to honor the land. Our grade six students worked collaboratively to create digital posters in support of Earth Day. Across the school, students used their creativity to reflect on and express their ideas about how they can be good environmental citizens. Some classes also shared read aloud stories such as this beautiful picture book 'Thank You, Earth' by April Sayre.
Also, a big thank you to our grade three students who took time for a schoolyard and community clean up.
Connected to Earth Day and what you might notice hopping around the community - did you know that those cute fluffy animals we see bounding through the fields are actually hares not rabbits? This is important because when their young are born, leveret's (baby hares), are quickly able to fend for themselves and live on their own in the wild. Many students often worry about the babies when they see these cute animals without a parent. Don't worry – they are okay on their own and do not need our help. We hope all of our EMJ families have a great weekend and hopefully get outside to enjoy the outdoors!
· Apr. 26 - No School - Teacher Professional Learning
· May 11 - School Council - Online - ALL parents are welcome!
· May 21 - No Classes - Teacher Professional Learning
· June 29 - Early Dismissal at 12:15 pm - Last Day of Classes
· June 30 - Appeals Day - by Appointment
Every year, the CBE must submit a balanced budget to Alberta Education by May 31. The CBE's balanced budget, as with any budget, includes inputs (where funds come from) and outputs (how funds are spent). At the CBE every dollar spent supports student learning.
Where funds come from:
- Alberta Education provides over 90% of the Calgary Board of Education's funding.
- The Calgary Board of Education also receives funding from other government departments and other sources such as fees from parents, school fundraising activities, facility rentals and investment income.
How funds are spent:
- During the budget process, the CBE maximizes the dollars available to support student learning and ensures sufficient budget resources will be available to allow the CBE to meet health, safety, infrastructure and other needs.
- The CBE receives a capped grant for system administration. For 2020-21, this amount was 3.15 per cent of all funding provided to us by Alberta Education. This video explains where CBE's money comes from, and how dollars are allocated: https://youtu.be/LxwFaNFztjg
The EMJ school budget process focuses on what is best for students and how to support students in the best possible way. Budget is directly related to school development plan priorities, while also considering input from our community and staff. For detailed information please see the presentation linked below.
Our 2020-21 School Budget
With our School Development Plan goals of Wellness and Literacy in mind, the following was established:
Teacher staffing to support class size with a focus on inclusive learning
Educational Assistants to support student success in learning and regulation, while meeting the needs of our diverse learners
Administration to support teaching and learning focusing on developing a school environment that fosters well-being for learning and academic success
Classroom materials purchased to support students in literacy, mathematics, and regulation
Expenditures also included learning materials: pencils, paper, notebooks, photocopying, and technology
Our 2021-22 School Budget:
Continued focus on literacy, numeracy, and student wellness
Decline in the number of teaching positions due to enrollment/program changes
0.6 FTE Music Program
Maintained the number of Educational Assistants for Special Education Programs
7 Noon Supervisors with Administration supporting the lunchroom
School Council will be asked to cover the costs of field trips and associated transportation, in-school learning opportunities, and residencies to reduce fees charged to parents
For further information, our School specific presentation can be found here.
We encourage all of our families to take part in the survey to have your voice heard. If you have not yet completed our budget survey, the link can be found here.
We have all asked our children the question "What did you do at school today?", only to be met with the dreaded non-answer, "nothing". As we welcomed back most of our students this week, it was a good reminder that while school staff get to see EMJ students actively engaged in learning across the school, you as parents do not have the same windows into their learning. In Alberta, teachers use Alberta Education's Programs of Study to direct what we teach in each grade. Each subject has specific learning outcomes and teachers personalize the teaching for the students in each class. Alberta Education's “My Child's Learning" parent resource provides an overview of the learning goals that make up the curriculum in each grade.
Each week EMJ teachers write a blog post that aims to show you as parents what your child learned in class that week. You can find your child's teacher blog here. You can also ask your child to show you their Google Classroom shell, which is an extension to their in-class learning. Reading about classroom learning is an opportunity to engage your child in conversation by asking specific questions and can also be used to extend their learning at home.
You may have also heard that Alberta Education has just released a draft curriculum for kindergarten to grade 6. You can read the new K-6 curriculum draft here. The proposed changes will significantly impact what and how your child learns at school. We strongly encourage all parents to read through the curriculum drafts in order to provide the province with feedback. As parents you are critical partners in helping set the direction for your child's learning and curriculum implementation. . We encourage you to share your feedback with the province on the draft K-6 curriculum here.
Alberta Education has also began mailing all Alberta Grade 4 parents a letter asking you to complete the Alberta Education Assurance survey. This survey asks you to think about your child's experiences and learning at Ethel M Johnson School. Grade 4 students completed the student version online at school this week. We appreciate the time our Grade 4 parents take to complete this in order to provide us with valuable feedback to help us measure success and plan for progress through future School Development goals. This survey closes Friday, April 23, 2021.
Upcoming Dates to Note:
This past week once again showed us how resilient and amazing EMJ students, staff and community members truly are. Thank you to all of the families who had to juggle your schedules to accommodate the shift from in-person to online learning. We continue to maintain a diligent and high level of safety measures including frequent sanitizing of high touch surfaces, physical distancing when possible, mask wearing, and a commitment to ensuring our cohort model stays intact. Our conversations with AHS this week confirmed that EMJ staff are doing everything they can to keep our students and staff healthy.
For our families who have a child quarantining over spring break, we thought we would share some sanity saving ideas to keep brains and bodies busy while at home:
1. Learn how to draw! There are many fantastic online tutorials that break down the drawing process into simple steps. Art Hub for Kids is a favourite of EMJ students and teachers.
2. Bring out the board games! Sometimes we forget the laughter and fun (and math snuck in) that a simple board game can offer. During our indoor recesses in the cold month of February many students enjoyed playing Checkers, Jenga, Connect 4, Battleship. Guess Who, Chess and Othelo. Here are some online versions of popular games if you do not have the actual board game at home.
3. Crack open the creativity with crafts! Using items found around the house, your child could easily lose themselves in the process and make something beautiful. Some easy crafting ideas can be found here.
4. Make it Move! Rube Goldberg machines are always a fan favourite with kids. If you have no idea what this is, watch this example with your child. Tinkerlab has a great how to page that can walk them through the steps.
5. Get Active! While we have to stay home when quarantining, a sidewalk, driveway or even an unfinished basement floor can become a fun canvas with sidewalk chalk. Active for Life offers us some suggestions to start, but I'm guessing given time your child(ren) will easily come up with their own ideas.
We wish all of our EMJ families a safe spring break and look forward to getting back into learning during the first week in April.
Upcoming Dates to Note:
- Mar. 29 to Apr. 2 - Spring Break - No Classes
- Apr. 5 - Easter Monday - No School
- Apr. 6 - Classes Resume
- Apr. 13 - School Council - Online - ALL parents are welcome!
- Apr. 26 - No School - Teacher Professional Learning
- May 11 - School Council - Online - ALL parents are welcome!
- May 21 - No Classes - Teacher Professional Learning
- June 29 - Early Dismissal at 12:15 pm - Last Day of Classes
- June 30 - Appeals Day - by Appointment
The safety of all students and staff of EMJ is of great importance. Today we had a practice fire drill. Fire drills are a long-standing expectation of everyone who congregates in a setting such as a school. We are required to have a minimum of six fire drills each school year. EMJ students and staff treat each drill as though it is the real thing. We are very proud of students' performance during the four drills we have already completed this year.
When the fire alarm is activated, students line up with their teacher and exit the school through the nearest door. Administrators quickly walk through the upstairs and main floor of the school to ensure all students and staff have safely left the school. If a student was in the washroom when the fire alarm bell rang, they know to exit the school and meet their teacher at their designated class muster spot in the field. Teachers keep class lists with them during all drills and attendance is taken and communicated to the principal. During a regular school year when parents or other visitors may be in the building, they are expected to evacuate the building when the fire alarm is sounded and move to safety at the front of the school.
Today, students once again impressed us with their calm response as they quickly made their way outside and stood quietly with their teacher. Preparing for an emergency is important so that in an actual emergency situation, students feel confident and know exactly what to do. At home, we encourage you to talk about today's fire drill with your child and congratulate them on a job well done. As parents, you might also consider developing a Home Escape Plan, testing your smoke alarms, and discussing fire safety using The Calgary Fire Department's Home Safety Program.
Apr. 5 - Easter Monday - No School
Apr. 6 - Classes Resume
Apr. 13 - School Council - Online - ALL parents are welcome!
Apr. 26 - No School - Teacher Professional Learning
Thank you to all of our families who were able to connect with teachers through our Parent/Teacher conferences this past week. We know that “children learn best when the significant adults in their lives – parents, teachers and other family and community members – work together to encourage and support them". Connecting has become more challenging with the restrictions currently in place and this is why parent/teacher conferences are even more important this year.
Conferences present a critical opportunity to celebrate all of the successes your child has accomplished and set some goals for their final months in this school year. We understand that many families may not have been able to sign up for an appointment this week. If you have not yet had a chance to connect with your child's teacher, they will be reaching out to you, or you can call the office at (403) 777-8500 and we would love to help set up an appointment.
Along the theme of connecting, this past Tuesday we gathered online for a quick School Council meeting where we updated parents on school life, put plans in motion for grade six graduation, and discussed school priorities regarding how to best spend future School Council funds. Thank you to all of our families and community members who generously supported EMJ through the 'Fill Your Freezer' fundraiser. We surpassed our fundraising goal and raised enough funds to refresh the sporting equipment in our classroom recess bins.
Ensuring each class has their own recess equipment has been an important safety protocol to ensure our cohorts do not cross over while also ensuring students have what they need to actively play outside. We are also looking into purchasing two Gaga Ball Pits in the near future, which is a game all ages can play inside and outside. School Council meetings take place each month and we hope more parents might consider joining us in April. As parents you are important partners in your child's school experience and we are very appreciative to our families who have made a commitment of time and energy to supporting EMJ to be the awesome place it is to learn!
Apr. 5 - Easter Monday - No School
Apr. 6 - Classes Resume
Apr. 13 - School Council - Online - ALL parents are welcome!
Apr. 26 - No School - Teacher Professional Learning
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