Jan 08
January Principal's Message

Happy January!


In December, the SPB learning community enjoyed many learning activities and events as we all celebrated the wrap up of the year 2019.  We all enjoyed learning games, artistic competitions, and food galore.  The last couple week is December were full of learning, fun and celebration.  Students left the school for their Winter Break on a high note, ready to relax and decompress with family and friends.

Returning to school this week was an easy endeavor.  Seeing the students again, recharged and ready for learning has been refreshing.  I am grateful to all the SPB families that have helped to prepare the kids for a positive return to learning.  The vast majority of students have arrived in very good spirits, well-prepared to continue with their studies.  SPB staff also look well-rested and ready to continue the rigors of teaching and assessment.  It is amazing how positive and re-energized humans can be after a relaxing break.

January, like any other month in the school year, is full of focus and rigor.  As a learning community, I want to work together to help all students find rigor, routine and focus at the beginning of 2020.  It is my hope as a partnership between parents/ guardians and teachers that we can cement positive learning habits that will stay with the students for the remainder of the school year and beyond.  Listed below are a few suggestions that may help students find added learning success and routine at SPB:

1.       Regular sleep patterns.  Make sure the kids are rested with enough sleep on a regular basis.

a.       Carefully monitor how much time the kids are on devices while they are supposed to be sleeping

2.       Regular study times after school.  Students find additional learning success (especially in high school) when they carve out a predictable block of time to complete homework or do some review.  Regardless of how much homework they have, make sure students are still using the entire block of homework time each day.

3.       Make time to read on a regular, predictable schedule.  Literacy is one of the most important parts of learning at all grades.  Students that make time to read are making a very real investment into their education that will continually pay-off throughout high school and beyond.  Carefully nurture and support a love of reading by being an exemplar.

As usual, if any members of the SPB community have any questions, concerns or need any additional learning supports for their children, please do not hesitate to reach out to myself or any member of the SPB staff.  We are here to help and support the excellent youth that we are entrusted with each day.


Happy New Year,


Joel Leavitt

Dec 04
December Principal Message

Greetings to the Senator Patrick Burns Community!

 November was a fantastic month, full of many learning activities.  SPB students were able to participate in educational opportunities such as visiting the Royal Tyrell Museum, volunteering at the Mustard Seed, learning at Telus Spark and the new Calgary Central Library, as well as participating in the Remembrance Day activities and assembly.  

I would like to take a moment to thank all the teachers that continually make these enriched learning opportunities possible.  On behalf of the staff at SPB, I want to thank all volunteers that selflessly give of their time and talents for the betterment of all.  You are amazing adults that are setting an ideal example of good citizenship for all SPB students.  Your service at SPB is always noted, especially when the volunteers encounter challenging and unforeseen situations.  Thank you for all you do for the students.

Of course, December is a shorter month for classes.  We only have three weeks of classes before students are off for the Winter Break.  While I know students and staff are certainly looking forward to a much-deserved break from the rigors of the classroom, I want to take a moment to make a suggestion to all SPB families.  

All students, regardless of grade level, need to keep up with their literacy learning, even during Winter Break.  It is my hope that parents and guardians will help their kids to carve out 20 minutes of reading each day during the break.  

Students who make reading a regular part of their daily routine will likely have an easier time transitioning into the demanding reading expectations of high school.  Normalizing a predictable, constant time for reading is a learning investment that will certainly pay-off in the near future.  

As a quick aside, tomorrow from 6-8pm, some students and staff are participating in a fundraiser at the Dalhousie Chapters Indigo.  Any books purchased during this time slot will contribute to a school fundraiser aimed at acquiring more books for the school.  I encourage all SPB families to come out and make some book purchases on December 5th.

Thanks for all you do for the students.  Have a great Winter Break!

Joel Leavitt​
Nov 04
November Principals Message

Greetings to all members of the Senator Patrick Burns School community!  November is a busy time, full of great learning activities and important events.  I would like to expound on a few of these events.

Remeberance Day is the most somber, reflective event that we honor each school year.  It is a time for students to learn more about the meaning of the words service and sacrifice.  It is a time for students to learn about putting the needs of the many before the needs of the one.  It is a time for students to learn about some their fellow citizens that serve or have served Canada to provide the fundamental freedoms that every citizen can enjoy each day.  For Rememberance Day this year, we will be holding a somber ceremony for students on Friday, November 8th during the school day.  In addition to the lessons in citizenship, we will be teaching and modeling the value of reverence and respect.  As such, we encourage and support any students that wish to dress a bit more formally or dress in their military, scouting, or other cadet uniforms that they may have.  Rememberance Day music will be provided by many of our SPB students.  Due to our increasing numbers, this event will fill the gym with our student body.  Unfortunately, we will not have additional seats for parents to attend.  We encourage families to seek out some of the many other opportunities that Calgary provides to honor Rememberance Day as a family.

November is also a time for grade nine students to begin exploring options for high school.  We have invited some current IB high school students to come to SPB and share some information about the IB program.  This is a great way for students to learn first hand about what being an IB student means.  Current SPB students that are thinking about joining IB for grade 10 will have the option of attending their designated high school or their designated IB high school.  This will most likely be Sir Winston Churchill High School, John G. Diefenbaker High School or Lester B. Pearson high School.  In addition to information on IB, all grade nine students at SPB will have the opportunity to attend high school open houses.  I strongly encourage families to accompany their grade nine children as they explore the options, programs and hallways of their new high school settings for 2020-2021. Please check the respective high school websites for dates and additional information.

Finally, on November 20th, we will be providing an opportunity for all grade nine students to attend a Spanish Career Fair at the University of Calgary.  This field trip will allow students to make tangible links from their current Spanish language proficiency to exciting career and university options.  All grade nine students may find great value in this exercise as it may plant some important career seeds that may blossom into exciting career and university options for tomorrow.  Field trip forms will be going home with the students in the coming days.

If any parents have any questions about upcoming November events, please do not hesitate to reach out to me through email.  Additionally, if you see me in the mornings at the front of the school, please feel free to introduce yourself and shoot the breeze with me.  I always enjoy a good morning chat with the parents and guardians of such terrific students.


Until next month,

 Joel Leavitt

Aug 13
Year End Principals Message

Hola, good citizens of Senator Patrick Burns School!

Since March 11th, 2019, I have been lucky enough to be the principal at Senator Patrick Burns School.  In this short period of time, I have experienced many, many reasons why this school is one of the finest places in the world to receive an education.  Now, at the end of this school year, I would like to take a moment to share what I have observed about this fantastic community.

1.     The SPB community is united and supportive of the students.  This learning community consists of hundreds of parents and guardians that are dedicated to providing the best education possible for all students.  Parents and guardians are often contacting the school to offer support and resources to further support the education of all students.  The School Council and Parent Association are especially dedicated as they tirelessly serve the educational needs of all students.

2.     The SPB staff are incredible individuals that lose themselves in the service of students.  I am repeatedly astounded by the diligence and selflessness that many teachers show to the students every day.  I am honored to work with so many teachers that often put the needs of students before themselves.  Teachers at SPB have normalized the practice of giving personal time to the students as they coach, mentor, and guide each student toward success.

3.     We truly have some of the world’s best learners at SPB.  Each student in the world is special and precious, but at SPB, I really feel as though these kids have an added measure of excellence that sets them apart from other learners.  Many students have been taught at home to be kind, courteous and conscious in their studies.  I credit the amazing families of these wonderful students that work together with teachers to prepare each learner for success in adulthood.  Simply put- these kids are amazing and special.

I have said it before and I’ll say it again- I have won the school lottery when it comes to being a principal of a great group of students.  I look forward with great anticipation to starting fresh with the SPB community in September and to spending as much time as I can in my career as the principal of one of the finest schools in the world. 

Have a great summer learning, playing and relaxing,

Joel Leavitt

Staffing Updates

We wish the best of luck to our departing staff of various endeavors, and other for whom details are still pending.  Their presence will be dearly missed, and their legacy enduring:

       Sra.  Nzingha Austin (assuming Literacy Strategist position with the CBE board)

       Sra. Benfield (Retirement)

       Sra. Doeve, Grade 8 (Maternity Leave)

       Sra. Jennifer McTighe (assuming the Assistant Principal Role at Discovering Choices High School)

       Sr. Jeff Rosewarn (Grade 9 Science, Math team)

       Sra. Schreier (Educational Assistant)

       Ms. Caldwell (Educational Assistant)

Over the last few weeks, we have been busy securing new teachers that reflect our staff departures, as well as accommodate for the increased student enrollment.  Although this list may change, we welcome the following new staff to the campus for 2019-2020:

                         Sra. Herrera

Grade 6 Humanities and Art teacher (returning from Maternity leave)

                        Sra. Lamboo

Grade 9 Math and Science teacher (returning from Maternity leave)

                        Sra. Parkin

Grade 7 Spanish Humanities

                        Mr. Hawkins

Grade 7-9 Physical Education teacher

                        Ms. Walker

Grade 9 Science and Math teacher


It is evident that with the amount of growth and change at SPB for the 2019-20 school year, we are still in a dynamic environment in regards to which teachers your child will have for the upcoming year at school.  Please know that we make the most solid and thoughtful pedagogical decisions regarding each child as possible.  We advocate for them, as do parents.​ 

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