Sep 17
Road Signs

Dear Parents of Sibylla Kiddle School,

Driving can be a complicated task. A good driver constantly needs to adjust to both predictable and unpredictable variables. There is a stop sign ahead. A massive pothole has appeared on the road. A ball just rolled out between cars. Driving west through a construction zone while facing the setting sun. The variables to consider are limitless.  When faced with shifts in the road environment we engage in a process of making constant adjustments in order to arrive at our destination safely.

As teachers, September is a time of year a little bit similar to driving in an unfamiliar location. We know how to be effective drivers (educators) but we are in a perpetual state of learning new roads (students) in order to understand how to best navigate the (learning) journey. We ask lots of questions, we have conversations and we make infinite observations. At times we will sit 1:1 with a student to have them read words on a page, watch them complete a math problem or to discuss a piece of writing. In education, we refer to these interactions as assessments. Assessments may be diagnostic in nature, following a set of prescribed questions or they may be more conversational in nature, allowing teachers to probe for a deeper understanding of what a student is thinking.
Many of these assessments are an on-going part of our September work and our teachers would be happy to answer any questions you may have during our upcoming conferences. September Conferences are a great way for teachers to gain a clearer understanding as to how your child learns best. At risk of over using the road analogy, the conferences help take the terrain mode off our maps and put them into satellite mode with clearer imagery based on the insights you provide us into how your child learns. We thank you for collaborating with us on this journey and we are looking forward to seeing you at our Conferences this upcoming week.

Sincerely,

Brad Emery
Principal


Sep 10
Routines

Dear Parents of Sibylla Kiddle School,

How much of your day is guided by established routines? You likely have an established plan by which you get yourself ready in the morning and even a bedtime routine. If you commute, you may see the same cars on the road or people on your bus. As humans, we like routines. They give us a sense of stability, security and comfort. For many people, an unanticipated wrinkle in a routine can unsettling or somewhat disorienting. It just doesn’t feel right.

This past week, our teachers have been working hard with our students in establishing school-based routines for the upcoming school year. What door do I come in? How can I let my teacher know I have a learning comment to share? Where does my lunch garbage go? Can we play with other classrooms outside? What time is gym? All of these routines bring that same sense of safety and comfort, while at school and while preparing students’ minds for learning.

Establishing home based routines can serve the same purposes in helping children feel regulated and ready for a day of learning at school. Leaving a backpack in the same place every day prevents unanticipated scavenger hunts two minutes before leaving for school. Going to bed at the same time every night helps their bodies develop strong sleep habits. As we establish new routines at school, this may be the perfect time to establish or re-establish some routines at home as well. It is amazing how even little things can create big differences in students’ well-being and learning.

Sincerely,
Brad Emery
Principal


Sep 03
New Experiences

Dear Parents of Sibylla Kiddle School,

Often when we are about to experience something new there is an internal tension that exists between nerves and excitement. It does not matter how small and trivial the new experience may be, the tension exists. I love trying out new and unfamiliar ice cream shops. However, if you are like me, there is a tension in something as simple as choosing a flavour of ice cream you haven’t tried before. You get one choice, is it the right one? Do I play it safe or do I go for a unique flavour? What if I don’t like it?

The tension between our nerves and excitement, when experiencing something new, can result in some level of stress. In the grand scheme of life, choosing a new ice cream flavour isn’t likely to result in palpable stress but on some level it will likely be there. Imagine now significant life changes such as moving, new jobs or new relationships. These events may result in significant tension. Our students all experienced a big life change this past week. For some it was a new school. For all it was having a new teacher and classmates.

We have been so proud to see our students take up the challenge of their new adventure this week. So many of them quickly embraced the newness of their grade and have jumped into the learning at hand. We know that resilience is built when we can reflect on the positives of making it through a new experience. This weekend, take time to celebrate what your child accomplished. Let them know how great they did and perhaps take them out for a new flavour of ice cream while you are at it. I highly recommend ‘Mini Dount’ ice cream. Delicious.

Sincerely,
Brad Emery
Principal


Aug 27
We Hope You Had an Amazing Summer

Dear Parents of Sibylla Kiddle School,

We hope you had an amazing summer and that you were able to spend time doing the things you enjoy with the people you love.

Boarded up on the west side of our school, you will see a brand new playground emerging. Whether I look at the playground through the eyes of a child or through my own eyes, I can’t help but imagine the exciting possibilities for how it will be used. For me, the start of a new school year brings that same excitement of possibilities for what the new year holds. New friendships. New things to learn. New opportunities to discover something about ourselves. I hope both you and your child are equally excited about what this new school year may hold.

We know the amount of information at the start of the year can feel overwhelming. However, we are asking that you please read all of the information we are sending. We don’t want you to miss important details.

It is our desire to publish weekly communication for families in a similar format to what you see here. It will have dates you need to know about for the week ahead, a few of the important upcoming dates in our calendar, often a brief reflection from myself and key news items you need to know about.

We are looking forward to seeing our students back on September 1.

Sincerely,
Brad Emery
Principal


Jun 25
A Year Like No Other

Dear Parents of Sibylla Kiddle School,

For students around the globe, the 2020-21 school year has been like no other. We have learned how to learn in the middle of a global pandemic. We have learned how to make friends in small classroom cohorts, while not interacting with other students at school. We have learned how to recognize others and read their emotions, simply by looking at their eyes while the rest of their face stays hidden behind a mask. We have learned how healthy our bodies stay when we are constantly washing and sanitizing our hands. We have learned how to work from our kitchen tables, bedrooms and living rooms.

Perhaps the biggest thing we learned this year is something we already knew. In a year where we had to keep our distance from others, where we couldn’t always hang out with extended family and friends, we discovered how important it is that learning is a team sport. We learn better when we are together. Learning with others inspires us, creates new questions in our minds and encourages us to do our best. I hope if we remember anything from learning in the 2020-21 school year, it would be that we learn best when we do it together.

At Sibylla Kiddle School, not only did we learn in the midst of a pandemic, we also learned while opening a brand new school. There was no one to tell us how things are normally done at our school. We had to figure it out, together. We took time to share our learning through virtual assemblies. We turned the trees in the forest area into celebrations of art and learning. We talked as an entire school about what it means to be in the green zone and what strategies we could use when we are feeling blue. We collectively gathered toys at Christmas for children in our city who may not have the same privileges that we do.  We thoughtfully gathered the ideas of all of our students in designing a school logo and brainstormed possibilities for our playground. Without even realizing it, we formed a foundation for our school anchored in learning, caring, celebrating and connecting. We did this together. It was never about one person, it was always about everyone who proudly calls Sibylla Kiddle home.

It has been an absolute honour to learn alongside everyone who is associated with the Sibylla Kiddle School community, over the past year. I look forward to where our learning will take us in 2021-2022. Until then, I want to wish all of our families a safe, relaxing and enjoyable summer full of new memories and adventures.

Sincerely,

Brad Emery
Principal


Jun 18
Truth and Reconciliation

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Dear Parents of Sibylla Kiddle School,

A couple weeks ago, I addressed the tragedy at the Kamloops Indian Residential School. In that post I said, “We learn best when we listen.” However, listening is only a first step. Reconciliation takes action. We cannot enter into the process of reconciliation without actionable steps.

June 21 is recognized as National Indigenous Peoples Day. In recognition of this day, Sibylla Kiddle School is proud to join all other CBE schools in making a commitment to action for the 2021-2022 school year. This commitment is made in conjunction with the Truth and Reconciliation Report along with the accompanying Calls to Action. As a school, our Commitment to Truth and Reconciliation states:

Our stakeholders (staff, students and parents) will meaningfully engage in teaching and learning opportunities related to the teachings of the medicine wheel and its integrated connections to the curriculum. These teachings will be contemplated through a seasonal cycle connected to the Holistic Lifelong Learning Framework of Spirit, Heart, Body and Mind.

I recently read an anonymous reflection online that reminds each of us that we should be teaching Indigenous brilliance and success as much as we teach Indigenous suffering and trauma. It is our genuine commitment that the school year ahead will be filled with on-going opportunities to honour Indigenous ways of knowing, in our classrooms, in various Weekly Updates, in our Council Meetings and in our conversations.

Sincerely,
Brad Emery
Principal


Jun 11
School Song

Dear Parents of Sibylla Kiddle School,

June is a bittersweet time of year in a school. On one hand, the excitement of preparing for a new school year is in full swing. Supplies are being ordered, staffing assignments are being considered and new hires start falling into place. On the other hand, June is the time when we must say farewell to people who we care about it, both staff and students. Farewells are not always easy as people leave lasting impressions and we wonder when our paths will cross again.

One staff member we need to say farewell to is Mrs. McBride. A year ago, our school entered into a one-year partnership with Cranston School to share a music teacher while both of our schools were relatively small. Now that both schools are growing, Mrs. McBride will be returning to her home school of Cranston. We know very well how loved and appreciated she is by our students for being an incredible teacher and person. I can attest that her lessons are filled with energy, enthusiasm and strong foundational music skills.

While her time has been short, she has still left a lasting legacy on our school. As a gift to our school, Mrs. McBride has composed a school song that we hope to be able to perform for you in the near future. In the meantime, here are the lyrics. They poignantly speak to the community of learners that is forming in our building and the values we hold. Thank you Mrs. McBride for making a difference at Sibylla Kiddle School and leaving a legacy that will last for years to come.

We Are Sibylla Kiddle

We are Sibylla Kiddle
Our story’s just begun
We come from different places
But Together we are one
Sharing, caring, helping friends
Whenever they’re in need
At Sibylla Kiddle, connecting you and me

We are Sibylla Kiddle our message still the same
Treat all things with kindness
And forever it remains
Mountain, Horse and River help us learn who we can be
Ohh. At Sibylla Kiddle, connecting you and me

As we all grow
You will see
That we can all be ambassadors
In our community

Thankful for our learning
And all new things to come
We are Sibylla Kiddle,
Our story’s just begun
Our story’s just begun
Our story’s just begun

Sincerely,
Brad Emery
Principal


Jun 04
Listening to Learn

Dear Parents of Sibylla Kiddle School,

As teachers, we tell students it is okay to take risks in their learning. It is okay to make mistakes, that is how we learn. Easy to say, hard to do. I need to write the message below but I must admit, I don’t want to say something incorrectly or in a wrong way. Nonetheless, this is how we learn.

The tragedy at the Kamloops Indian Residential School has touched so many Canadians. The reality of Canada’s relationship with Indigenous people has been reprehensible. If you are like me, you have understood residential schools as mind knowledge but not as heart knowledge. In light of the tragedy, we are left trying to understand the answer to the question, what now?

In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, chaired by Murray Sinclair, published extensive reports that can help us answer the ‘what now’ question. Sinclair said, “Education is how we will heal, teaching our children that we are all equal is how we will stop racism and bring reconciliation.” The key is education.

Tied directly to education is the action of learning. We learn best when we listen. When we listen to a speaker, to a friend, to an elder, we learn. When we read a book to understand something new, we are listening to the words of the author and we are learning. When we take time to reflect internally, we listen to our inner thoughts and we learn. When we stop to observe the world around us, we listen to it and we learn.

In honour of the lives lost by the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation and across this country, I encourage you to join me in the act of reconciliation through taking time to listen and to learn. As we embark on the rest of this school year, as well as the year ahead, we look forward to sharing with families various school based initiatives we plan on taking as part of this learning process.

Sincerely,

Brad Emery
Principal


May 28
Mental Health

Dear Parents of Sibylla Kiddle School,

When a child falls and scrapes their elbow, we know how to help. When they fall off their skateboard and break a bone, we know what to do. While these are unpleasant experiences, that we don’t wish on any child, these are visible injuries that modern medicine has taught us how to treat.

Mental health is far more complex. The challenges are not visible and how to help is not intuitive or always evident. Earlier this month we recognized Hats On for Mental Health, this upcoming week Alberta Education is hosting Mental Wellness Day for Schools. Some of our classes will be participating in province wide sessions geared to students in K-6. Examples of these sessions include; Making Friends with Your Stress Response and Move to Wellness.

As a school staff, we are particularly excited about an evening session geared towards parents. This session is called Connection Matters and is led by Alberta’s own, Dr. Jody Carrington. When we first started meeting as a newly formed Sibylla Kiddle staff, back in 2020, many of our early conversations were anchored in Dr. Carrington’s work. As a staff, we did a book study on her book, kids these days. Her message with respect to how we connect with our children is timely, meaningful and critical.

Dr. Carrington’s province wide session for parents is on June 3 from 7-8 pm. The link for the session has still not been posted online but when it is, it can be found on Alberta’s Mental Wellness Day website, by scrolling to the bottom of the page. Based on other talks I’ve heard by Dr. Carrington, I am confident that this hour will be well worth your time and give you encouragement along with practical insights into how to support both your child’s mental wellness and yours. This will be one session you definitely do not want to miss.

Sincerely,
Brad Emery
Principal


May 20
It Takes a Village

Dear Parents of Sibylla Kiddle School,

You have likely heard the translated African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child.” We can vividly see the truth of this statement when we end up teaching in an online environment. Your support and patience over the past two weeks has been incredible.

I had the privilege of dropping into classes over the past two weeks and I want to give a shout out to our teachers who have been teaching in an online environment, far removed from the settings they are used to teaching in. As I stepped into classrooms, I witnessed their compassion, listening ears and continued drive to keep learning at the centre of the work we do.

When teachers let students share pets, stories and objects from their home, they fostered a sense of belonging. When teachers  started the day with a similar activity from the day before, they fostered the security of routine. Some of our teachers  had newly hatched ducks living in their home, fostering incredible student engagement. When teachers developed multiple short learning chunks into the day, they fostered well-being by keeping the amount of work manageable. When teachers took time to develop small break out groups they fostered both connection and personalized learning. When teachers paused to listen to students’ voices and questions they fostered a spirit of empowerment.

Over the past two weeks, I hope you were able to see a glimpse of the passion, care and importance our teachers put into our students and their learning. We are all excited to see our students back in person starting on May 25 as we close out the final weeks of the school year.

Sincerely,

Brad Emery
Principal


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