Jun 24
Adventures

Dear Parents of Sibylla Kiddle School,

Notable chemist Marie Curie once stated, “If I see anything vital around me, it is precisely that spirit of adventure, which seems indestructible and is akin to curiosity.” A year of learning is never short on adventure, an exciting encountering of the unknown. We celebrated our first assemblies and hosted our first open house. We learned from experts and pondered new questions. We laughed on our new playground and devised new games to play with our friends. I hope your adventures, as parents, also had many moments of joy along the way.

As we transition out of this school year, we have a number of staff who will not be returning next school year. Rather, they will be starting up new adventures for where life is taking them. We want to say thank you to those staff. Ms. Jelika, thank you for keeping our school so sparkly clean. Mrs. Piché, thank you for supporting our students in their lunchtime adventures. Mrs. Brar, thank you for supporting learning in so many classrooms. Ms. Miller, thank you for sharing your love of teaching by supporting students across our school. Ms. Waldron, thank you for engaging your grade 3 students in authentic learning. Mr. Scott, thank you for creatively inspiring the minds of our grade 5 students. Mrs. Prediger, thank you for creating lessons which evoked curiosity and wonder in your grade 2 students. Finally, Mrs. Holmgren, thank you for inspiring joy within the learning of our youngest students, our Kindergarteners. You all will leave an undeniable legacy on Sibylla Kiddle School. We wish you much success on life’s next big adventure.

May your summer be filled with adventures. Adventures which bring you and your family joy. Adventures which contain inherent risk mingled with taking care of your well-being. Adventures leading to new learning, discoveries and wonder. We look forward to hearing where your adventures took you, when we meet again in September.

Sincerely,
Brad Emery, Principal


Jun 17
Intergenerational Connections

Dear Parents of Sibylla Kiddle School,

For over a year now some of our students have been involved in a unique intergenerational communication opportunity to forge relationships and build resiliency between them, some university students and some local seniors. Through a series of written exchanges, cross generational connections and learnings were made. With the support of a grant, St. Mary’s University spearheaded the work and published a book called, The Resiliency Interviews: Intergenerational Life Writing. Earlier today, the students who participated in the project attended the book launch and had to the opportunity to meet the individuals they have been communicating with. With pride, I turn the rest of my Principal’s Message over to a small sample from the book, the published work of our students and their counterparts. Participants were asked the question, “What is the secret to living a long happy life?” I hope you see the wisdom and the whimsy in the responses…

Older Adult: “For many years of my life, I was much too serious, too tense, and too much of a perfectionist. I can learn from my mistakes. Life is so much better when we concentrate on making joy for others. Then it also becomes a joy for us, too.”

Undergraduate Student: “The thing about happiness is that it is capable of being found daily if a person only remembers to look for it.

SKS Student #1: “I think living a long and happy life is eating lots of healthy food, staying happy with at least what you have, and being a kind person to everyone.

SKS Student #2: “I’m only eight, but I think it is to eat healthy food and workout every day.

SKS Student #3: “I have no idea what it is, but I’ll try. These are all of my guesses: family, friends, and vacation. Sorry, but that’s all of my guesses.”

It is amazing what can be learned when we stop and listen to the reflections, wisdom and stories of others. Who can you share your story with? Whose story is worth listening to? What stories do your children have to share with you and with others? What stories do they need to hear?

Sincerely,
Brad Emery, Principal


Jun 10
Fresh Eyes

Dear Parents of Sibylla Kiddle School,

A Kindergarten student came beaming into the school this week and exclaimed, “Today is not going to be a normal day!” His class was going on their first field trip. He was about to experience learning with fresh eyes and a new perspective.

Earlier this week, our school was able to host Chief Superintendent, Christopher Usih. As we toured the school, met with staff and interacted with students, I got to see our school with fresh eyes and a new perspective.

So many things in life can become routine, ordinary and predictable. The alarm goes off at the same time every day. We see the same picture hanging on the wall without really even noticing it. The weekend eventually rolls around with a similar predictability to the ones that proceeded it. There is nothing wrong with these things, in fact there is good embedded in the daily routines of life but sometimes it can be hard to see the good we are surrounded by until we get fresh eyes and a new perspective.

Finding the joy in learning often comes when we break routine, when we step out of the ordinary and embrace the unpredictable. Try breaking routine with your children this weekend. Eat something different for breakfast on a Saturday. Walk the dog on a different route. Meet someone new or reconnect with someone you haven’t seen in awhile. Take a field trip to somewhere unexpected. When it is over, reflect together on the joy you experienced, the new learning you encountered and find a moment to be grateful for fresh eyes and a new perspective.

Sincerely,
Brad Emery, Principal


Jun 03
Mission Possible

Dear Parents of Sibylla Kiddle School,

The Mission Impossible franchise has been around since 1966 with countless episodes, reboots and movies. The tagline at the beginning of every episode says, “Your mission, should you choose to accept it…”  The lead character, Ethan Hunt, most recently played by Tom Cruise, inevitably makes a decision to accept a mission that seems ‘impossible’ to the viewer. Ethan Hunt is not a typical superhero. He can’t fly through the air, spin webs or make himself invisible. I believe his superpower is his growth mindset; his ability to believe in himself, see challenges as opportunities and to understand persistence as the impetus for accomplishment.

This past week our students have been participating in an obstacle course during their PE time, called Mission Impossible, or as some teachers refer to it, Mission Possible. It has all kinds of interesting tasks involving balances, agility and flexibility. Students have the opportunity to practice developing a growth mindset as they attempt and often reattempt challenging physical tasks. In many ways, this activity is a culmination of our school wide, year long focus on growth mindset. The wellness goal in our School Development Plan is that student confidence and persistence in learning will improve. We are so proud of our students and the accomplishments they have made across subject areas, over the course of the year.

A quick Google search of ‘growth mindset’ will reveal thousands of resources on what growth mindset is and how to foster it in your children. Some quick ways you can do this at home include; celebrating mistakes as an opportunity for learning, trying new activities and through encouraging risk taking in all aspects of life. A growth mindset can lead to greater resiliency and confidence in all of us, both young and old. Carol Dweck, the psychologist who introduced growth mindset to the world says, “We like to think of our champions and idols as superheroes who were born different from us. We don’t like to think of them as relatively ordinary people who made themselves extraordinary.” I believe every one of our children has the potential to be a superhero disguised as an ordinary person.

Sincerely,
Brad Emery, Principal


May 27
White Blossoms

Dear Parents of Sibylla Kiddle School,

One of our young students was walking to school this week when she was clearly enraptured by the beauty of the flowering trees lining the streets of Cranston. In an attempt to capture and share the beauty, she clipped some white blossoms, delivering some of the blossoms to the office. While the flowers ultimately belong on the trees, I couldn’t help but marvel at the innocence of our children and how easily enamoured they are with the world around them. They know how to see, capture and share the good that surrounds them.

The events south of the border this week are a tragic reminder of not letting a moment slip by us without seeing the joy that lives within the time we have with each other on this planet. As humans, we try hard to capture those moments with pictures, or mementos or even pieces of writing but so often what we capture doesn’t fully encapsulate the moment itself. The biggest joys in life are experienced in the now. We can’t hold on to them, fully document them or keep them in a bottle.

This upcoming week, I encourage you to find as many joyful moments as you can, especially with your children. Celebrate with wild abandon the goal they just scored at soccer. Make a big deal when they actually do a job around the house without being asked. Take that craft or piece of artwork they just whipped up and elevate it to museum status by prominently displaying it in your home. Take them for a walk, lay down under a tree and simply soak in the beauty of some white blossoms by seeing the world through the eyes of a child. We never know what tomorrow holds so be sure to find the joy in what today is giving you.

Sincerely,
Brad Emery, Principal


May 20
Water for Swimming

Dear Parents of Sibylla Kiddle School,

I recently gave an interview to LiveWire Calgary as part of the Loonies for Literacy Campaign being conducted by Education Matters. The reporter asked me how important literacy is for learning. My propensity to use analogies kicked in and I immediately replied with a question, asking how important is water for a swimmer? In its most basic form, literacy is the ability to read and write. Alberta Education dives deeper suggesting that literacy is “the ability, confidence and willingness to engage with language to acquire, construct and communicate meaning in all aspects of daily living.” I would define literacy as the ability to interact with language in order to be an effective communicator and learner.

Regardless, of how literacy is defined, we know that it goes hand in hand with learning. At a young age, one of the best ways to form the foundations of literacy is to spend as much time as possible interacting with books. Before your child can read, read to them. When they develop some basic reading skills, read with them. Once they become a proficient reader, continue to read to them and have them read to you. Reading will open up conversations. It will allow you to share a laugh or maybe even a tear. It will simply allow you to discover a world that you never thought was possible.

As we continue to grow our collection of books in the learning commons (school library), we want to thank those of you who have contributed to the Loonies for Literacy campaign. Every dollar you donate will be spent on books for our school library. As a bonus, every dollar you donate will be matched by a corporate donor to support school libraries in our city who do not have the same access to financial resources as many in our community do. The deadline for donations is the end of the month. You can go to the links provided or you can simply text LITERACYSKS to 30333. Thank you for your on-going support of the work we are doing at Sibylla Kiddle School, specifically in the area of literacy.

Sincerely,
Brad Emery, Principal


May 13
Happy Birthday

Dear Parents of Sibylla Kiddle School,

My late grandfather was born on February 29. He was a leap year baby. As a child, I can’t imagine a worse day to be born on. You go to bed on February 28 and you wake up on March 1 and your birthday happened and didn’t happen all at the same time. You slept through your entire birthday. Somehow cake just tastes better on your special day.

There is something about a birthday that sparks genuine joy and excitement for a child. For one special day they feel like the world revolves around them. Likewise, children often love to celebrate the birthday of others. They get to share in the joy and spoils of someone else. It is like teaching empathy for the good that another person is experiencing.

May 25 is Sibylla Kiddle’s birthday and we are going to have a birthday party! As a way to honor the strong service and community roots of Sibylla Kiddle, we are collecting birthday decorations and supplies from now until May 25 in order to donate them to the Calgary Food Bank. We hope this will be the start of a great tradition of walking in Sibylla Kiddle’s community service footsteps while celebrating who she was and the legacy she has left behind.

For a list of specific items we are collecting and more information please click on this link. We want to thank our broader community for their support of this initiative as we teach students the value of giving to others in a way that creates joy for our students and for others.

Sincerely,
Brad Emery, Principal


Apr 29
Hats On

Dear Parents of Sibylla Kiddle School,

“May the fourth be with you!” In pop culture, May 4th has become synonymous with Star Wars Day. A day when some like to talk about their favorite characters, share their favorite Yoda quotes or simply watch one of their favorite Star Wars movies.

This year, May 4 also coincides with a much more important event on the calendar, Hats On! for Mental Health. This is a day when students are encouraged to wear a hat to school to raise awareness of the importance of good mental health.

Admittedly, I am a Star Wars fan. I love the story lines and the visual effects but more than anything I like the characters. There are characters who look similar to us, as humans, there are aliens and there are all kinds of interesting creatures. I’ve often wondered about the backstory of these characters. The movies reveal very little about who these beings are. So too, how much do we know about each other? What is the backstory of your neighbour or your colleague? Mental health is often hidden but makes up a critical part of our identity and who we are. It is hard to hide a broken arm but it can be much easier to conceal our mental health. Days like Hats On! for Mental Health remind us that each of us carries an inner story. We all have our own mental health to take care of and a responsibility to look out for the mental health of others.

May 4th holds the potential for lots of Star Wars fun but I hope you will also take the opportunity as a family to discuss mental health, ways you can take care of your own mental health and how to take care of the mental health of those around you. For more information, please visit www.canwetalk.ca for helpful related resources.

Sincerely,
Brad Emery, Principal


Apr 22
Earth Day

Dear Parents of Sibylla Kiddle School,

I received an email earlier this week from the CBE Sustainability team letting me know that our school generates 0.0229 cubic yards or waste/student/month. This number may not mean much but the CBE average is 0.08. I would say this is a big celebration of how well our school community considers their environmental impact.

Today is Earth Day and I wanted to share one more unique aspect about our school building that you didn’t get a chance to see at our open house last night. High on our rooftops sit a vast array of solar panels. They are an impressive sight to see. You are able to get a glimpse of them by going onto Google Maps and seeing an aerial view of our school.

For those of you who love data, there is also a website set up that comes complete with statistics and real-time information showing the output of our solar panels. Did you know in the last 30 days, our solar panels have generated over 13 000 kWh of electricity? How much energy has your home used in the last 30 days? Some quick exploration on this site holds the potential to spark all kinds of further questions for both our students and our parent community.

This Earth Day, what will you do to learn about and take care of our earth? How can you foster environmental stewardship and global awareness in your home? Maybe you want to watch a nature documentary and wonder at our beautiful planet. Maybe you want to choose one day of the week to walk to school inside of driving. Maybe you want to plant some seeds to grow a little garden. How will you and your family celebrate Earth Day?

Sincerely,
Brad Emery, Principal


Apr 14
Learning in the Field

Dear Parents of Sibylla Kiddle School,

The most magical phrase any student wants to hear is, ‘Tomorrow is a snow day!’ We have not had a snow day in Calgary since 1998 so I’m going to suggest we have a better chance of spotting a unicorn than hearing this phrase any time soon. The second most magical phrase a student wants to hear is, ‘We are going on a field trip!’

Field trip destinations rarely matter to students; they are more excited about the possibility of going somewhere. In a student’s mind, it is like a mini vacation. However, from an educational point of view, a field trip also holds great potential to be a magical learning opportunity. In fact, I prefer to call them a ‘field study’ as this phrase triggers an awareness of the learning objectives about to happen outside of the school building itself.

We know that learning is triggered when our brain is engaged. Think about the last time you travelled somewhere unique, it may have been a vacation to another country or simply to a local business you have never been to before. The engagement of a new place likely awakened a sense of wonder and consequently new things were learned with increased intensity.

Field studies have started up again at our school and it is great to see the wonderful learning opportunities our students have already engaged in or are about to experience. On this long weekend, think about a field study your family could go on. Can you find an unusual tree to learn about in Fish Creek? Could you help your child learn the power of resilience by doing a winter hike in the foothills? Maybe you can awaken the inner horticulturist in your child by spending some extended time at the local gardening store. The possibilities are endless. Where will your next family field study be? What will you learn?

Sincerely,
Brad Emery, Principal


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