Jan 15
#SibllyaKiddleReads

Dear Parents of Sibylla Kiddle School,

There is an old saying that suggests an apple a day keeps the doctor away. As an educator, I wonder what a book a day can do? Imagine you read one book a day to your child, every day. It’s a simple task. It may take as little as a few minutes, depending on the book. One book a day. That’s 365 books in a year.

The potential benefits of daily reading are significant. Language development is an obvious but critical benefit. Children will expand their vocabulary, build their comprehension skills and learn to be verbally expressive. Socially, they learn how different characters interact with their communities. Globally, they learn about places and perspectives in our world which are vastly different than our own. Scientifically, they learn new facts and conjure up new questions to explore. Relationally, it creates and maintains healthy bonds between parents and children. One study even suggests that just 6 minutes of reading a day can reduce stress by 68%. Maybe a book a day can keep the doctor away.

Access to books can be a little more difficult now with the pandemic but there are options available. Start with the books you have on your shelves. It is okay to reread the same book many times. I can’t count how many times I’ve read Sam and Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett to my kids. We laugh every time. The Calgary Library has curbside pick up and many digital resources. Purchasing a quality chapter book can allow you to dig into a chapter or two a day for an extended book adventure. In my house, I am currently reading the children’s novel Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo to my kids. They were excited to hear it is coming out as a movie in another month or so.

What books does your family love to read out loud? What books would you recommend to other families for reading? Let’s try something new this week. If you have a Twitter account, tweet out your favourite read aloud book titles and add the hashtag #SibllyaKiddleReads. We will aim to retweet your book picks on the school Twitter account (@KiddleCBE). Together, let’s inspire each other to read a book (or chapter) a day.

Finally, if you are interested in more information on this topic you are encouraged to check out the website abclifeliteracy.ca/family-literacy. It gives statistics and resources related to promoting literacy in your family. You may even want to take part in their Family Literacy Day on January 27, 2021.

Sincerely,

Brad Emery
Principal


Jan 08
I Can Still

Dear Parents of Sibylla Kiddle School,

Happy New Year! Thank you for your incredible support and patience as we navigated through a week of online learning. While there were some technology hiccups along the way, it was overall pretty smooth sailing. I want to also give a big round of applause to our teachers for their work and efforts this past week. Teaching elementary aged children in an online environment is vastly different than teaching in a face to face setting. I continue to be so impressed with our teachers and students for constantly rising to the challenge and finding ways to learn in spite of the obstacles that may come their way.

Back in August, before students had arrived, I spent time with teachers thinking about the year ahead. I acknowledged that our world will throw many “You can’t …” statements at them as the year progress. We took time to flip that statement and brainstorm ways to finish the “I can still …” statement. We realized that there are many things we can still do, in spite of the complexities we may face. As we start 2021, how would you finish the “I can still…” statement? It may make for interesting dinner time conversation.

As I consider the calendar year ahead and think about how I finish the “I can still …” statement, I am forced to ask myself yet one more reflective question. If “I can still …”, then am I? However you fill in the blank to this statement, it is likely an action. What can you still do? Are you doing it? As a school, as we move into the year ahead, it is my encouragement to students, staff and families to remember all the things we can still do and to put those things into action. I can’t wait to see all the good that is in store for our school and our community in the year ahead.

Sincerely,

Brad Emery
Principal


Dec 18
Gratitude & Traditions

Dear Parents of Sibylla Kiddle School,

As the 2020 calendar comes to a close, I want to take this opportunity to say thank you to the incredible staff at Sibylla Kiddle School. It has been such an honour to work with this team of dedicated professionals who have, like many of us, faced a year of incredible adversity. Their resilience, flexibility and openness to adapt their teaching practices on a moment’s notice has been remarkable. They have done all of this while also being part of this grand adventure of opening a new school. Despite everything 2020 has thrown our way, I count this year as a highlight in my career, in large part due to the privilege of working with the staff of Sibylla Kiddle School.

I know we are staring down a holiday season that doesn’t fit with our preconceived notions of what this time of year should bring. Traditions bring us security, comfort, predictability and peace. This is part of the reason we love traditions so much. This year, certain traditions simply won’t happen. However, my encouragement to all of our families is to use this Winter Break as an opportunity to create positive and lasting memories that will form the basis of new traditions. Perhaps the final scenes of the Grinch Who Stole Christmas has a 2020 lesson for all of us; removing the traditions of this season shouldn’t change the heart of the season at all. From my family to yours, I want to wish all of you a safe, happy and relaxing break as well as a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! 

Sincerely,
Brad Emery
Principal


Dec 11
Joy Squad

Dear Parents of Sibylla Kiddle School,

What brings you joy? We can often think of macro answers to this question like family, friends, good entertainment, travel or even delicious food. I’ve never been to Paris but for some reason just the thought of sitting outdoors at a little bistro with my family eating a fresh baguette sounds like a 10/10 on my joy scale.

This past week one of our G​rade 2 classes has called themselves the Joy Squad. They have made it their mission to spread and encourage joy throughout Sibylla Kiddle School. As a result of their planning, classes are taking on joy challenges like; give someone a compliment, tell a joke, tell a family member why they are important to you or make a craft to give someone.

What I love about the ideas of our students is they are not egocentric, it isn’t about them. They instinctually know that true joy is something you give to others. They also instinctually know that through the acts of kindness they spread, joy is the natural gift that comes back to the giver.

We all know someone in our world that needs joy right now, likely many people. We may be locked down but that doesn’t stop creativity. How can you and your family be inspired by the Grade 2 Joy Squad? How can you spread some joy this season? Be ready for the joy that will return to you.

Sincerely,

Brad Emery
Principal

Dec 04
Coding

Dear Parents of Sibylla Kiddle School,

Perhaps you have a robot vacuum or at the very least you have heard of them. The premise is simple, the robot roams around your home vacuuming up the dirt and returns to its base. Watching one of these machines in operation still gives me a sense of wonder seeing how it navigates the complexities of its environment. They magically seem to know where to go and how to return to their base when finished. Of course, no magic is involved at all. Rather, a programmer has developed countless lines of code so the robot knows exactly what to do.

The skill needed to code a vacuum may be complex but the skill of coding can be simple enough to be learned by a young child. One does not need to look very hard in a toy store these days to discover the explosion of options for learning how to code. The simple premise of coding is for the developer to program a set of rules by which an object or software will then respond within the parameters of those rules.

The educational benefits of coding are well documented. It allows the learner to develop problem solving skills, linear and abstract thinking, critical thinking, cause and effect reasoning and logical. This upcoming week is Computer Science Education Week. It is a great time to explore both the benefits and for many, the fun in computer programming or coding. In many cases, you will probably be amazed to discover your child is more proficient at this skill than you may be.

Some great online resources for you to look at include code.org, hourofcode.com and apps like Scratch Jr. or Daisy the Dinosaur. A quick online search for coding ideas with kids, including ideas that don’t involve technology can reveal many other resources that are fun, engaging and amazing for brain development. You just might be helping your child lay the learning foundations to program a new piece of technology that will one day revolutionize our world.

Sincerely,

Brad Emery
Principal


Nov 27
Super Citizens

Dear Parents of Sibylla Kiddle School,

Our grade one students have a beautiful bulletin board display in one of our hallways. The overarching question at the top is, “What makes a great community?” Below, each student has designed a 'super citizen' persona, much like a superhero. Students then wrote the qualities of their ‘super citizen’ alongside their drawing. Words and phrases such as: help other people, nice to everyone, share, responsible and make the world a better place, permeate the characteristics of their ‘super citizens’. I couldn’t help but have pride in our students, your children, as their innocent minds portray considerable wisdom that we could all benefit from. You can see an image of their renditions on our school Twitter account, @KiddleCBE. Let’s all strive to be ‘super citizens’.

Sincerely,
Brad Emery
Principal


Nov 20
Conflict

Dear Parents of Sibylla Kiddle School,

This past week was Bullying Awareness Week in Alberta. A week to draw attention to, learn about and understand the issues related to bullying. We can likely all agree that demonstrating respect and decency to one another should be considered a basic human value. However, for many, including our children, this is a skill that takes direct learning and practice.

Often, as a society, we jump to the word bully because we don’t always have another word or an understanding for how professionals define the word. In my work with children, I help them to understand the differences between the words rude, mean and bullying. All of these words carry negative connotations and are ultimately unacceptable but the differences lie in the intentionality behind the behaviour. Rude behaviour is a result of uncontrolled actions that unintentionally hurt someone else. We might see this at school as a child throwing ice in the air or running down a hallway. These actions may end up hurting someone and are not acceptable at school but the injury to another wasn’t intended. Mean behaviour is when someone goes out of their way to intentionally hurt another in some way. This may involve mean words, physical aggression or even a targeted eye look. This type of behaviour is also not acceptable and may carry consequences, but it isn’t necessarily bullying. Bullying is commonly defined as repeated negative behaviour that targets an individual so that the power of one person is used to intimidate and belittle another individual. This is on-going, negative behaviour resulting in a power differential. Giving our children the tools to discern between rude, mean and bullying behaviour helps them also know the best strategies for dealing with the problem.

As you help your child navigate the complex world of conflict with the goal of showing respect to all individuals, you may find the attached image useful in your conversations. This is an image we often use at school to help students learn and understand the difference between rude, mean and bully.

sibylla-conflict.jpg

Sincerely,
Brad Emery
Principal


Nov 13
Invisible but Essential

Dear Parents of Sibylla Kiddle School,

In a world of COVID we have all too often heard the term ‘essential workers’. We could all list off types of jobs that we would fit into this category. However, I sometimes end up wondering, who are the invisible essential workers in our lives? Who are the people doing things that we never see but somehow they get done?

In a school district as large as the Calgary Board of Education, I am reminded every day of the importance of our oft time invisible but critically important support teams. Who is making sure the various IT infrastructures are up and running every day? Who keeps the grass trimmed on the field? Who is up in the middle of the night to monitor the security of our school? Who keeps our websites up to date? Who is the person behind the tweet on the main CBE Twitter page? Who is making sure schools have all the hand sanitizer they need? I am thankful in my own organization that I know the name behind many of these people, even if I don’t always know their face. I am equally thankful for the essential roles each of them play in developing environments that enhance student learning.

An activity you can do with your children is to brainstorm who are the invisible essential workers in your family and in your community. Activities such as this allow our students to see that it takes a network of people to support each other in day-to-day life. If you are feeling more ambitious, do a little research and maybe find out the name of that invisible worker, I’m sure they would appreciate a thank you note from you or your child. This is just one simple way we can keep a smile on the face of our broader community.

Sincerely,
Brad Emery
Principal


Nov 06
Remembrance

Dear Parents of Sibylla Kiddle School,

When we ‘remember’ we are often recalling an event of our personal past that we associate with some level of emotional attachment. These memories may make us laugh, they may make us cry, they might bring on a feeling of regret or feeling of longing.

Our most powerful memories are often associated with our individual and personal experiences. Events you haven’t experienced may allow you to create empathetic memories but events you have experienced bring much stronger emotional attachments. For example, we can all empathize with the joy someone likely experiences when having their first child but our memories with this experience are more powerful when we consider the birth of our own child.

Few, if any, of us hold direct memories of being involved in armed conflict, standing up for the values and ideals that we hold. At best, most of our remembrance is rooted in our attempts at understanding and connecting with the horrific realities of the past. However, Remembrance Day is still of critical importance to who we are as Canadians. 

On November 10, our students will be engaging in a variety of activities and a ceremony to reflect on a time that shaped our country and our world. They will consider the sacrifices others made on their behalf, in order to give us the freedoms we enjoy today. On November 11, I encourage families to continue those conversations at home, to find meaningful opportunities to connect with memories of events we did not directly experience and to take a moment at 11:00 to be silent with both gratitude and remembrance.

Sincerely,

Brad Emery
Principal


Oct 30
School Council 101


Dear Parents of Sibylla Kiddle School,

I can't recall a time, in my lifetime, when politics on any scale was so complex and let's face it, divisive. I have no desire to wade into those waters through either my position or through this medium. However, I do want to consider one small but important line of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It states that we all have the “freedom of thought, belief, open and expression". 

One of the ways this freedom is actioned is through something as simple as being active on the School Council and/or the Fundraising Society. On November 5, both of these groups have a meeting and I wanted to take a moment to point out the differences. In a nutshell, School Council is a structured group of education stakeholders “who work together to effectively support an enhance student learning" (ASCA, 2020). All parents in our school are automatically members of the School Council; no further action is required.

Whereas, the soon to be established Sibylla Kiddle Fundraising Society, is a separate body of individuals who come together with the express purpose of raising funds to purchase resources that will enhance and enrich the learning experiences of our students. In order to be part of this group and to have the ability to vote for the executive team of the Society, you must become a member. More information can be found below or by clicking here regarding how to become a member of the society.

We hope to see you (online) at these meetings on November 5 as you exercise your Canadian freedoms.


Sincerely,

Brad Emery
Principal 

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