Hope “Springs” Eternal
This ancient proverb describes how the feeling of hopefulness endlessly renews itself.
Spring is always the season of renewal as we say goodbye to winter and welcome green grass, flowers, and the beauty of nature coming back to us. The physical arrival of spring has particular impact this year as it reinforces and renews our hope that life will soon return to normal in our families, schools and the world. While we have persevered through the pandemic with needed optimism and hope, the recent advances in slowing the transmission of the virus and the arrival of the vaccines have enabled us to renew that hope as the return to normal has become within our reach.
At MTS we want to thank parents for your steadfast support in all measures related to keeping everyone safe during the pandemic. We are very grateful for the ongoing support of all of our parents, especially this year when there have been so many school traditions, events, and practices that have had to be adjusted due to the pandemic. We, students and staff, have missed your presence in the school this year. The many ways that you give to the school in volunteering and support in classrooms, fun lunches and attendance at events has left a community gap that we all feel. Thank you for your ongoing fundraising activities which have covered the cost for classes to have virtual field trips and have enabled the school to purchase and enhance our Math and Science resources at every grade level this year.
I want to provide an update on a few changes in staffing. We were sad to say goodbye to Mrs. Dayna Tyson, who worked as a lunchroom supervisor and educational assistant at our school for 8 years. We wish Mrs. Tyson success in her new position as a fulltime EA at another school. Our new lunchroom supervisor is Mrs. Krysta Ahlers. She is quickly getting to know students and staff. Mrs. Watson continues in Ms. Assmus’ grade 2 class while Mrs. Westgate is on medical leave. Ms. Assmus has been supporting with administrative responsibilities full time. MTS is a busy place!
March is a short month with parent conferences on March 11 and 12. Parents are asked to book an individual 15 minute conference time with the teacher through their CBE account. Information on booking conferences which will take place online through the Microsoft Teams platform has been previously sent to you by School Messenger. Please call the school if you require help or support with booking your conference. The conference is the opportunity for parents to meet with their child’s teacher in conversation about their child’s learning. Teachers will have samples of student work to share with parents in speaking about student learning and assessment.
The last day of school before spring break is March 26. Students return to school on Tuesday, April 6.
Please take time to relax and rejuvenate over the break.
Dr. Lorraine Slater, Principal MTS
At MTS our goal is to always treat others with kindness. The month of February traditionally brings added focus to kindness. Kindness is a type of behaviour marked by acts of generosity, consideration, or concern for others, without expecting praise or reward in return. Through a variety of teaching opportunities, students and staff will be highlighting and demonstrating extra acts of kindness and generosity throughout the month of February. Our hope is for generosity and kindness to be more evident in the classroom, in our school, in our homes and in our greater community.
Students will be adding their own heart-shaped special messages related to kindness to a collective hallway decoration (tree) for all grades to engage in and enjoy. The addition of student- created hearts to the tree will capture personal pictures, sentences about acts of kindness, or synonyms for the word which will make the tree “bloom." It will be exciting for students to watch the tree blossom as they fill it with their heart-felt images and messages of what kindness is and represents for them.
This month we have welcomed back 13 students to in person learning from the online HUB environment. Because we have multiple classes at each grade level in the school, the return of these students has not required any school or class reorganization. The students have been welcomed back to the classroom without any major change to class size at any grade level or individual class. We have approximately 30 students in grades 1-4 who are continuing in HUB learning until the end of the year.
As you know MTS documented our first positive case of Covid-19 in an individual in the school. Although this was our school's first positive case, it was clearly not the first case in the CBE. The process for informing families is very clear and well established. The school follows Alberta Health Services direction for identifying close contacts and determining requirements for isolation. We continue to be extremely vigilant at the school with our cohorts, sanitation, physical distancing and masking. We rely on all our families also to keep our student population safe by following the guidelines for keeping their child home when they are experiencing any symptoms. We appreciate everyone's effort in this regard.
February marks the date for the annual Teachers' Convention on February 11 and 12. The professional development sessions will take place online this year which will add yet another piece to the very different experiences of this pandemic year for schools, teachers, students and families. There is no school for students on the convention dates which is followed by the Family Day holiday on February 15. We hope that the break provides a “breather" for families to be together before the final stretch of this term leading to the spring break commencing March 29 through April 5.
Please take care everyone and stay safe.
The return to school after the holidays is always exciting for students and teachers as we begin a new calendar year. While we remain in the throes of the world-wide pandemic, this new year also promises hope. Hope is a powerful human emotion. It is the feeling of positive expectation, of longing for a certain outcome, and of trust in the possibility. We are all hopeful that life will soon return to normal. Our hope is grounded in anticipation and trust that that the pandemic will end as vaccines to prevent the spread become available to all. As we are reminded by Alberta Health Services and the Government, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
We had a very successful week of online learning! We know that at the elementary age, online learning requires a lot of support from families and we are so thankful for this support. The week went smoothly: students were able to log in, families were familiar with the Google Classroom platform, and teachers were available for support in between synchronous lessons. Teachers’ google classrooms that were set up at the beginning of the year and used for the week of online learning will continue to exist. However it is important to note the purpose of the online presence now that students have returned to in- school learning. The google classrooms will be available for students who are not able to attend in-person classes in school because of illness or legal requirements to isolate. Teachers will support students in their learning through the online learning environment under those circumstances.
Thank you once again for continuing to support your children and our school with positivity. It is a year like no other. Finding the good to be thankful for when living through the hardship of the pandemic makes gratitude for what we have in our relationships with family, friends and colleagues that much more meaningful and important.
The promise of spring is yet to come!
Dr. Lorraine Slater
As the first term comes to a close I would like to extend a warm thank you to parents, students and staff for holding together during these very trying times. It has not been easy for anyone. However working through hardship can help us to build resiliency and strength. Certainly we have seen this at our school where students and staff have learned and adapted to new pandemic protocols and have taken the safety of themselves and each other very seriously. The learning has continued whether it has been at school, through the online HUB environment or at home when students were ill or required to self-isolate.
As you may know I have returned from a medical leave which ended with my fracturing my wrist as the result of a fall on the ice. Unfortunately the broken wrist required emergency surgery and extended the leave longer than I had anticipated being away. I want to give a heartfelt thanks to Mrs. Westgate who moved into the Acting Principal role while I was away and to Mrs. Braun who was Acting Assistant Principal. A further update on Mrs. Braun is her move to a Specialist position with the CBE. We were very sorry to see her leave MTS and thank her for her contribution to our school. Mrs. Penfold, A familiar face in our school has taken over teaching the grade 2 HUB position.
We welcome several other new faces to MTS including Mrs. Holt who joined us as Kindergarten teacher when Mrs. Lewis retired, and Mrs. Watson who is replacing Mrs. Carter in Kindergarten while she is on medical leave. As well, we have several new members on our lunch room team this fall including Mrs. Christensen, Mrs. Nickel-Woodward, and Mrs. Gorner. We have an amazing group of lunch room supervisors who are working extremely hard with multiple grade lunch hours and supervision, sanitation and safety issues. Not an easy job! They are a most dedicated front line group.
The final week of school before break includes some festive in-school activities. We will have our traditional story read over the intercom for the whole school on Tuesday, December 15 (also PJ day). Thanks to Parent Council who will provide a fresh fruit snack and a candy cane as a treat during the story. If you would prefer that your child not eat the candy at school, please advise them to bring it home in their backpack. Friday, December 18 will be Christmas sweater day. Please do not purchase anything new- creativity is encouraged!
Parents will be receiving further information from the CBE on plans for the at home learning that has been announced for January 4-8. At this time students are expected to return to in- school learning on Monday, January 11.
Finally, on behalf of all of the staff at MTS I hope that everyone has a beautiful and restful winter break.
Dr. Lorraine Slater
Welcome back to McKenzie Towne School! We were thrilled to see our students again in school. Thank you for your patience and support throughout our entry planning and messaging to you. We had a smooth and calm return to school with our staggered entry and are working to learn new protocols to keep us all safe and healthy.
The first few days with students are crucial in setting the tone for the rest of the year. As a staff we spent time before students started discussing how as a group of teachers we can continue to build a classroom and school community that is grounded in the McKenzie Towne School core values of Relationships, Respect, Belonging, Caring and Learning. In particular, as a staff our conversation has included the challenges of building relationships with students and each other while maintaining physical distance and masks.
We welcome Mrs. Tracey Burch to MTS. Tracey is an experienced teacher who joins the grade 2 team. Sarah Lambert continues on maternity/parental leave and we are fortunate to have Kal Geraghty remain in the grade one position in her absence. As well, our front office “face" this year includes Office Assistant Karen Perry who joins Tara Robinson who last spring moved into the Administrative Secretary role in the office.
To minimize the number of students entering the building at one time, we have a soft entry process. Doors are opened at 7:45 and locked at 8:00. During this 15 minute interval, students will be greeted at the entrance door by a teacher in the grade team who will supervise students to maintain physical distance, don masks, sanitize hands, and direct students to their classrooms. The bell will ring outside at 8:00. If your child arrives at school past that time, please have them enter through the front door. We are trying very hard to keep everyone safe. Please make an effort to arrive on time to avoid large numbers entering through the front door in the morning. Use of the front door is only for students who arrive at school after the bell. A reminder that the Hug 'n Go zone is a drop off area for parents and not a parking zone. Please obey the signage at the zone to facilitate all parents who want to use the zone to drop off their children. A reminder that there is no stopping in the bus zone in front of the school. The zone is monitored by the Calgary Police who will be issuing tickets for violation within the zone.
It is also very important to have a designated meeting spot for 2:36 pick up times Monday – Thursday and 12:00 on Fridays. All students in grades 1-4 will be dismissed from their exit doors and are to go immediately to the meeting spots that they have identified with their families. Please ensure you have not chosen a meeting place in the school parking lot. Kindergarten is the only age group where teachers will wait for a parent to arrive before dismissing students. All students have been taught in class, that if they get to their meeting spot and there is no one there to pick them up, after waiting a few minutes, they are to come to the office through the front entrance of the school for help. Please note that parents are requested to remain in the outer foyer of the office NOT to enter the front office to drop off items or pick up with their child. The staff will ensure that your child enters/exits safely and is taken to his/her classroom.
HUB Online Learning
Our school has over 50 students who are registered in the HUB online learning. In order to accommodate the HUB online learning at our school we were required to have one teacher transition to the online environment in order to meet the needs of students registered in that program. Mrs. Braun, our Technology Learning Leader will move to an assignment as the grade 2 HUB teacher. Mrs. Braun brings her expertise and strong skill-set in technology to this assignment while maintaining her placement at and connection to MTS. Accordingly her reassignment to HUB teaching has required a reorganization of our six grade 2 classes into five in-person classes at the school. This has meant a change of teacher for some of the grade 2 students. Families and children impacted by the change in classroom teachers have been notified. The class size in grade 2 remains at 22/23 in each class. We are pleased that the overall in-school enrolment number in grade 2 enabled us to complete the required reorganization of classes without a significant increase in class size and in a manner that is least disruptive to students at this early start-up time of the school year.
Open, continuous communication is of utmost importance throughout the school year. Classroom teachers will use the following methods to communicate learning, updates:
· Classroom Blogs – (classroom teachers will provide blog posts every Friday beginning September 11/20)
· Phone Calls
Communication from the school will include:
· School Website – will highlight events occurring at the school
· Administration Monthly Message on website
· Email, phone calls, School messenger
· In person meetings, previously arranged with administration
Over the last several weeks there has been considerable information that has been provided to parents both through the CBE and MTS website as well as through School Messenger. The information can be overwhelming to process. If you require clarification, please do not hesitate to call the school and speak to the office staff regarding questions that you may have related to operations within the school. Please address concerns you may have about your child and his/her learning to their classroom teacher through email of phone call. When additional support is required in a situation the administration will be involved.
Thank you for holding fast in your support of our school community through this challenging time. We appreciate your positive comments and feedback as well as your suggestions and questions for improvement.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the McKenzie Towne Church for providing our school staff with a delicious pizza lunch on the first full day back at school, September 8. What a treat for staff – including not having to pack a lunch on that first busy day. McKenzie Towne is such a caring community which our school is proud to be a part of and contribute to!
Wishing all of us a healthy and happy month of September!
Dr. Lorraine Slater
A Fond Farewell
As the 2019-20 school year draws to a close, it is with much sadness that we have to say goodbye to everyone without seeing the faces of our students and families. Clearly this is not the way we would like to end the school year.
After 3 months of ongoing learning, I want to express my gratitude to students, parents and teachers for remaining as engaged and focused as possible. I appreciate that this time has been difficult for many, uncertainty remains, and everyone is hoping for a successful return to ‘normal’ school operations in the fall.
The Alberta Government has released its guidance and more detailed scenario information for reopening and will announce on August 1st which path will be selected for September 1st. This information can be found at: https://www.alberta.ca/k-to-12-school-re-entry-2020-21-school-year.aspx
The scenarios presented vary from one in which school will resume with full student participation in classes with continued attention being paid to keeping the school building clean, using social distancing strategies where possible and with some limitations on activities in larger groups. The second scenario includes students attending school in smaller cohort groups or alternating days. The third scenario would be a continuation of ongoing learning at home with some expansion of expectations in terms of the number of hours weekly for school activities and assignments.
McKenzie Towne School (like all schools in the CBE) is working on re-entry plans that are suitable and adaptable for each possible scenario when school returns in the fall.
As you have been informed, on June 26 you can access your child’s report card online through MyCBE/PowerSchool account at: https://www.cbe.ab.ca/support/Documents/MyCBE-accessing-online-report-card.pdf
Appeals day is Monday, June 29 from 8:00am-12:00pm. This is your opportunity to contact your child’s teacher by email to ask them any questions you have about the report card.
Farewell to Staff:
We would like to say a fond farewell to Mrs. Joan Klym who has decided to move into the next exciting phase of her life- retirement. Mrs. Klym has been a much loved and respected teacher at MTS for the past 8 years. She has touched the lives of many students and families at our school and she will be greatly missed. We wish her every happiness as she takes up residence in her new home on Vancouver Island. She can expect a few visitors!
As we work on finalizing our staffing plans, we will provide full information on the 2020-21 MTS staff in our first communication to you in the new year.
As always, we thank you for working in partnership with school staff, and hope that your family is keeping safe and well. We wish you a wonderful, relaxing summer and look forward to reuniting with you in the fall.
Dr. Lorraine Slater
May Brings Flowers and Hope
To the MTS Community,
I trust this message finds everyone well and safe. The month of May brings a new awakening of flowers, green grass, and with this new brightness the hope that our difficult times will end soon. As we navigate through our challenging pandemic that impacts families, school, work life, and every facet of every day living, it is important to hold steadfast in our belief that we will get through this together, and it will, in time, end. Hope keeps us moving forward one step at a time with each new day bringing us closer to being able to once again connect with each other and return to normalcy.
School has been different and in many ways a difficult adjustment for all. As we chart new forums in online learning we have both appreciated your patience as we figure things out and we thank you for your support of the process in your own learning and that of your children. Our understanding and expertise in the online setting is developing, but we know that we will not be able to replicate the authenticity of real, face-to-face education in schools. I am proud of our staff, students, and you, parents and guardians for doing whatever is possible to make learning continue to happen for our students.
As we work through the rest of this school year, we have also begun the planning for 2020-21. Our planning includes amongst other things, resource allocation, staffing, and class organization for next year. Please know that as a staff of teachers and administrators, we engage in a very thorough process in assigning students to classes that involves a multiplicity of variables. Our dedication and thoughtfulness will again be brought to the assignment of students to classes over the next two months as we plan for the new school year. We cannot honour requests for specific teachers but please know that you may contact administration if there are issues/concerns that you would like us to consider in the organization of classes related specifically to your child. Since class lists change over the summer, we will not be releasing the class organization until the first day of return to school- hopefully in September 2020!
Once again, thank you for standing together beside us and with us in these difficult times. We miss all of you very much and can hardly wait until we can be together again.
Dr. Lorrraine Slater,
Principal, McKenzie Towne School
Principal’s Message- Moving Forward to the Home Stretch
As we move into the month of March, anticipate spring break, and look forward to warm sunny days, we also realize that the academic school year has gone by very quickly. March is a busy, short month with parent conferences on March 19 from 8:00 am – 1:00 pm and 4:00- 8:00pm. Parents are asked to book an individual 15 minute conference time with the teacher through their CBE account beginning on March 14. The conference is the opportunity for parents to meet with their child’s teacher in conversation about their child’s learning. Students may be a part of the conference and will have the opportunity to show and talk with their parent and teacher about their learning and work. Parents may also wish to reserve a time to talk with the specialist teachers, Ms. Cotton- Music, Mr. Van Sluys- PE and Mrs. Bitz- Resource.
Friday March 20 is a non-instructional day for students while teachers will be planning for the spring term.
Our gymnastics education unit will be starting at McKenzie Towne School on Monday, March 2th to March 18th. We are fortunate to have a variety of equipment that has been purchased through parent fund-raising efforts. Throughout the year, during physical education classes, teachers have worked to provide students with a variety of experiences to establish safety routines and promote cooperation and good sportsmanship. Within all of our units, the children have had many opportunities to develop their individual skill level, share their accomplishments and experience the satisfaction of teamwork in a safe environment. Within the gymnastics unit of instruction, the following expectations and guidelines will be in place to ensure student safety:
1. No jewelry, loose clothing, skirts or dresses. No belts.
2. Bare feet, running shoes or gymnastics slippers are acceptable.
3. Tie back long hair.
4. Students work independently or in small groups QUIETLY to minimize distraction and optimize focused movement
5. Children do what they are comfortable doing. No showing off or daring is allowed.
6. Although some students have had private gymnastics training, there will be no aerial stunts such as dive rolls, aerial somersaults (flips), head springs or hand springs as these activities are not part of the prescribed gymnastics curriculum.
Remember to check the lost and found. Items
left unclaimed before spring break will be
sent to charity.
I look forward to meeting and talking with you at the school during these and other events. As parents, you are the fibre that holds our school together and that makes our school community strong.
I hope that everyone has a relaxing spring break!
Dr. Lorraine Slater
The return to school after the winter break is exciting for students and teachers as we
begin a new calendar year. As we survive the chill of January and with the winter
holidays a distant memory, we are busy planning and looking forward to the rest of
the school year. The month of February marks the half way point in the school year.
We have returned to school excited about the possibilities of what is yet to come. We
hope that you feel that same excitement and see and feel the energy as you talk with
your children about school. Thank you for your attendance at the important
parent/teacher conferences in December. Parents have provided the school with
positive feedback around the timing of the first report card that went home on
December 19, 2019
The months of January and February will be very busy with many school activities.
Information on these events is contained on our website and in teachers’ blogs. It will
be an exciting 2 months and we invite you to join us at the school as you continue to
volunteer in classrooms, field trips, and support the school in a myriad of ways.
Kindergarten registration for the 2020-21 school year
Kindergarten registration for the 2020-2021 school year begins January 20 at
McKenzie Towne School. We expect that the school will be able to accommodate all
K-4 students who reside within the school’s boundary. The school is unable to
accommodate out-of-boundary students. Students who move outside of our boundary
area during the school year, may complete the school year at McKenzie Towne
School, but cannot be accommodated at MTS the next year.
Regular Attendance is Important for Student Success
Showing up for school has a huge impact on a student’s academic success starting in
kindergarten and continuing through high school. Even as children grow older and
more independent, families play a key role in making sure students get to school
safely every day and understand why attendance is so important for success in school
and in life.
We realize some absences are unavoidable due to health problems or other
circumstances. However, we also know when students miss too much school—
regardless of the reason – it can cause them to fall behind academically. Your child is
less likely to succeed if he or she is chronically absent—which means missing 18 or
more days over the course of an entire school year. Absences can add up quickly.
Please ensure that your child attends school every day and arrives on time.
What happens on Friday afternoons at MTS?
We are sure many of you may have asked the question, “What do MTS teachers do on
Friday afternoons when my child is not in school?” Research shows teacher practice
evolves and becomes more effective when they work in the company of their peers.
Effective teaching practice has a significant impact on student achievement. We
extend the instructional minutes of the school day in order to “bank” time for
Professional Development on our Friday afternoons. Friday afternoons allow for
teachers to participate in Professional Learning Communities in order to create shared
standards of what effective teaching “sounds” and “looks” like; making the learning
visible. Meeting collaboratively creates a strong teacher collective commitment and
culture focused on improving outcomes for students. Teachers explicitly and
intentionally use Friday afternoons to ensure this happens. Friday is a day of learning
for our students in the morning and our teachers in the afternoon.
We are pleased to inform you that we were not required to make any teacher staffing
or classroom organizational changes at our school resulting from the CBE budget
cuts. Our two temporary contract teachers, Ms. Geraghty and Ms. Penfold, were able
to continue at the school. We welcome Mr. Victor Jiminez, covering for Mrs. Hansen,
who is on maternity leave. As well, Ms. Ali Coutts has joined the MTS staff
replacing Mrs. Coleman in grade 2, while she is on medical leave.
Please continue to check your child’s teacher blog as well as the Friday message sent
by our Assistant Principal, Mrs. Westgate every Friday for the most up-to-date
information on school events and your child’s learning and classroom.
Dr. Lorraine Slater
As I write this news report, and in looking at the calendar, I note that there are 6 weeks remaining until the winter break! Our schedule of school activities is very full for class and whole school events. I encourage you to keep close track of these activities through the weekly school messenger that will be sent to parents on Fridays, and by continuing to check your child’s teacher blog published on a weekly basis on Friday as well.
Who do you speak to if you have a concern?
Should you have a concern about your child, your first course of action is to:
- meet with your child’s classroom teacher, then if necessary,
- meet with the school principal, then if necessary,
- meet with the director of your Area office, then, if necessary, meet the appropriate senior superintendent of the CBE (the Area Director would provide information for contacting the appropriate superintendent.
Parents should treat school staff with the same high level of respect that they would like to receive from schools. Everyone should do his/ her best to communicate in an open and honest way that encourages discussion, cooperation and problem solving. The goal is to always do what is best for children.
Did you know……
- Parent/teacher interviews will take place on Thursday, November 21 from 4 pm to 8 pm and on Friday November 22 from 8:00 am to 1:00 pm. Conference manager will open on Saturday, November 16 at 8:00 am for you to book your interview time These will be face-to-face interviews with your child’s teacher at which time student progress, achievement and development will be discussed.
- MTS will be hosting a Scholastic Book Fair during P/T conferences. This is a perfect time to do some Christmas shopping and support the further acquisition of books for the MTS library through your purchases.
- Your child’s first report card will come home BEFORE the winter break on Thursday, December 19. This is also the last day of school before the winter break. Friday, December 20 is a non-instructional day.
- A notice has been sent home detailing plans for the MTS Christmas concerts. Please note that this year the grade 1& 2 classes, and the grade 3/4 choir will be presenting the concerts. The grade 3/4 classes will be sharing their talent in the spring.
We hope that the weather will remain mild through the next 6 weeks as we all persevered through the untimely cold and snow of the past few weeks.
I am looking forward to seeing you in the school as you support MTS activities before the winter break. Students return to school on Tuesday, January 7, 2020.
Wishing you a safe and relaxing holiday.
Dr. Lorraine Slater
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Dr. Lorraine Slater
I am committed to working collaboratively with staff, parents and students in order to ensure the best possible education for our children.