Dear Parents and Guardians,
This update will provide you with information about current and upcoming events.
Our current student enrolment is 251 students.
We have welcomed 10 new students in recent weeks, with some new to Calgary, and new to Canada families.
Our projections for next year are 227 students Kindergarten to Grade 6.
Thank you to all who have answered the questionnaire around next year’s school attendance for your family, as it assists us in our ongoing planning.
We continue to be vigilant in asking parents to ensure that their children attend school every day, and on time. Good attendance habits benefit learning now and in later life.
Pineridge School is committed to making sure that students are actively engaged in all learning opportunities all day every day. In accordance with provincial legislation and Calgary Board of Education policies, students are expected to attend school regularly and be on time. Lates and absences create interrupted learning due to time missed by a student. These can creep up and cause significant interruption in their learning and that of the class with repeated interruptions caused by late arrivals. It is understood that weather conditions and illness can create unforeseen absences. It is also an issue of safety for our students in order to be able to know where they are and whose care they are in. Student attendance is tracked twice a day. On a recent day, there were over 20 students who had arrived within the first 25 minutes of school start time. This interrupts their day, that of their classmates, and results in an increased work load for front office staff. Students arriving late must line up and be checked in at the office against the main list of absent children for the day, which then causes more delay in getting to class. This is a standard and expected procedure around student safety.
In order to ensure clear and open communication around attendance, letters are sent home monthly, tracking those students who have missed more than 10% of the month, or have been late more than 10% of the month. This might seem small as it is only 2 or maybe 2.5 days per month. However, 10% of a school year is the equivalent of a month of learning. This becomes significant when parents wish to discuss their child’s academic or social progress with our staff, to discover that hit and miss attendance might be a contributing factor to making learning connections.
Letters sent home are generally for information only, in order to ensure that we share a common understanding of your child’s attendance. Approximately 35% of the student population is absent or late at over 10% of the monthly time, taking flu and cold weather into recent consideration. This is not acceptable. It is expected that most students will miss no more than 7 days per year. We look forward to working together to get students to school on time each and every day.
School Snack, Breakfast and Lunch Programs
Over the past 3 years, we are pleased to have been able to work with students and their families to provide support through an increase in the use of the school’s food related resources. We are deeply grateful for community support provided by many external agencies. It is known that children who are fed learn more readily and have fewer social problems. These agencies allow us to provide the following to our students:
- Snack bags of a variety of sugar free cereal as required throughout the day
- Toast and Nutta butter or cereal and milk if students have missed breakfast at home
- Toast mid-morning if a student does not want dry cereal
- Full bagged lunches are delivered twice a week to support the lunch program
- Lunch makings are available for students who might need them
Additionally, we are cautious and careful as we hear of families who might require support. They are linked to community resources and supported in a variety of ways that allow people to maintain their integrity and privacy if they require food assistance, regardless of the cause. There is a discreet way of ensuring that families receive assistance, with signs posted by the front door, and on the student check-out book in the office, as well as through connections with the City of Calgary Village Square community hub project.
Medical concerns around food:
If your child has food concerns or allergies that would not allow them to have a snack if they forget to bring theirs to school, it is presumed that they can speak to that concern and refuse food if offered, and that you, as parents, have completed a medical information form at the start of the year to let us know about medical and food concerns. If you are uncertain, please put a note in the front cover of your child’s agenda telling us that under no circumstances is your child to have a snack or food provided due to a medical condition.
Pineridge School remains at 15.6 teaching positions. We wish to acknowledge the work that has been done by Ms. Rai as she works with Kindergarten students following her time in the Grade 3/4 area. She will return to Kindergarten teaching after Spring Break.
Mr. Cater has joined Pineridge staff to assume responsibility for the teaching vacancy created by the absence of the Assistant Principal. He will also return after Spring Break.
We wish to thank Ms. Best for her many years of positive, community centred, child focused work at Pineridge as she begins her retirement from the Calgary Board of Education. There will be an acknowledgement of her work scheduled at a time convenient for Ms. Best later in the spring. Staffing for the Assistant Principal position is ongoing, and the replacement will be announced once a suitable candidate has been chosen.
Mrs. Saarenoja has assumed responsibility for most of the Student Services and resource work for the school this year, in addition to her ongoing work in the Learning Commons, in Ms. Best’s absence.
Ms. Hua has been instrumental in the work of the school, focussing on Technology and Literacy, along with her teaching responsibilities.
Ms. Hua and Mrs. Denton have worked diligently on behalf of the school community as members of the Calgary Board of Education Literacy cohort linking school based work to the school development plan, and the Calgary Board of Education 3 year plan. The School Development Plan focuses on disciplinary literacy with all children learning in a joyful literacy rich environment, creating opportunities for all children to read independently with comprehension.
All staff members are actively engaged in ongoing professional learning opportunities focusing on the Calgary Board of Education 3 year plan in a variety of ways including:
- Literacy across the curriculum
- Mathematics education
- Indigenous Studies
- Outdoor education and literacy
- Physical Activity
- Makerspaces and Project based learning and assessment with the material and human support of the University of Calgary, Werklund School of Education
- ASD: inclusion and planning, with the support of Area 4, Education Matters and the University of Calgary
- Clear Speech: Alberta Health Services
- Mentoring of new to the profession, student teachers
- English Language learning
- Mental Health
School budget decisions will be made for next year based on the allocation of funds and the number of projected students. Please note that a drop in our projections will mean a decrease in funding to the school regardless of provincial funding. We will work intentionally and transparently to make sure that budget processes are shared at suitable points in the upcoming budget process.
Planning for Next Year
Registration has begun for next year. New students have begun to register. Kindergarten remains as a 5 day, half-day program in order to allow children to develop a sense of attending school and separating from home for a short period of time on a daily basis. At this time, Pineridge School will continue to have a morning and afternoon class. Hours of operation are not yet finalized for students in Kindergarten to Grade 6. It is anticipated they should remain fairly consistent with some minor adjustments for the upcoming year.
Joyful Learning linked to School Environment through Curriculum
Both curricular and extracurricular activities allow students to experience the joy of a positive day at Pineridge. Recent and ongoing projects and specifically identified celebrations have included:
The Young Writer’s Conference
Grades 4, 5 and 6 students will attend on April 21 to work together in a conference and workshop setting. They have been choosing their coursework and making decisions about which authors they wish to work with on this Saturday event. Parents take their children and are responsible for picking them up. Registration is limited and has now closed. Pineridge staff will be onsite to meet and supervise students during the day.
Pink Shirt Day linked to the school wide literacy theme of “Wonder” and “Choose Kind”. It was a timely reminder of treatment of others in a positive and kind manner, every day. This was not just a one time event, but continues on throughout every class, every day, all year.
The University of Calgary has provided materials and staff to work with many classrooms on literacy, social studies, math, and science maker space projects for the months of February and March. These projects have focussed on a study of story in Grade 1 and 2, Making Things in Grades 3 and 4, and the establishment/creation of government in Grades 5 and 6. The opportunity to utilize cutting edge resources and have additional educational support has been of significant note.
As well, we have been fortunate to have three Bridges to Teaching practicum students working at the school for the months of February and March. These are teachers who are working in Alberta to gain their Alberta certification. They have been a significant addition to our school culture as well.
Calgary Reads continues to support school and family literacy. At the school level, we are exceptionally fortunate to have students working with Calgary Reads volunteers on a weekly basis. Most recently, all students in Grades 1 and 2 visited the Children’s Reading Place in Inglewood to celebrate their growing understanding of literacy. The trip was organized and paid for by Calgary Reads.