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


May 13
Lessons from an Octopus

Dear Parents of Sibylla Kiddle School,

A few weeks ago the Oscar for Best Documentary went to My Octopus Teacher. It is a film that follows the year long journey of a man who daily immerses himself into a kelp forest to observe, befriend and learn from an octopus. The premise may sound ordinary, even odd, but the simplicity and beauty in the lessons learned are wondrous and applicable to any age. The film teaches us lessons with respect to patience, simplicity, interconnectedness, vulnerability and intelligence.

Last week I wrote about lessons from a sapling. This week I draw lessons from an octopus. It isn’t a mistake that I encourage our families to take daily time to be in nature and learn from nature. Lockdowns, pandemics and online learning have led to necessary but virtual realities. Our ability to connect has become compromised. However, nature can be a strong counter balance to those virtual realities.

I encourage our students and our families to take as much time as possible this upcoming week to take a break from the screen and be in nature. Don’t preplan what lessons nature will teach but do be intentional in searching for what nature has to offer. The documentary filmmaker, Craig Foster, for My Octopus Teacher started his journey with a simple question; “What happens if I just went every day?” What question(s) will start your time of exploration in nature?

I want to express my continued gratitude to each of you who are going above and beyond to support your child’s learning at home. As parents and as educators, we know the joys and challenges you experience and we appreciate your partnership on this learning journey. Please continue to reach out to the school or your child’s teacher if you need support.

Sincerely, Brad Emery
Principal


May 07
Arbour Day

Dear Parents of Sibylla Kiddle School,

Yesterday was Arbor Day, a day where people are encouraged to plant trees. For decades various organizations have come together to donate tree saplings to grade one students. Those students received their trees yesterday and we hope you will be able to find an appropriate place to plant it and watch it grow.

The saplings that showed up at our school appear to be a variety of pine, although I’m certainly not an arborist. What I do know is that the saplings aren’t much too look at. They won’t add to the aesthetic value of your home. They won’t provide shade on a warm summer day and they won’t support a bird house. At the same time, those saplings are hardy and highly resilient. With a little bit of care and attention they will grow into mighty trees with considerable value.

Transitioning back to online learning isn’t easy for anyone. Depending on who you are, it adds considerable complexities to your daily routines. This is true for you, as parents, our students and our staff. To mitigate those complexities and to add wellness to your days, I encourage you to get outside over the coming weeks to breathe in nature, slow down and to learn from the land. Much like the simple tree sapling can teach us and remind us the value of perseverance; the land can be a great teacher of other lessons. Being outdoors on the land will also help students maintain balance between learning indoors, on a screen, and connecting with nature.

As you navigate supporting your child through online learning in the coming weeks, please reach out to your child’s teacher if you have any questions or need support. We value your partnership and we appreciate the role you play in supporting your child’s learning.

Sincerely,
Brad Emery
Principal


Apr 30
Hat's On

Dear Parents of Sibylla Kiddle School,

Hats are not a typical part of my clothing ensemble. I generally don’t find them very comfortable and they make of a mess of what little hair I have. However, if I am wearing a hat I am likely trying to hide something, bed head. I probably have not taken the time to look presentable to the world and I use a hat to cover that up.

This upcoming week is recognized as Mental Health Week. One of the activities we will be doing as a school is called Hats On for Mental Health. Mental health can often be wrapped up in stigmas that we try to hide. Much like when I wear my hat, we try to cover up how we are feeling as we may perceive we have to present a certain look to the rest of the world. We don’t want others to know how we may be feeling. Hats can be such a powerful visual reminder that we all have something going on underneath those hats.

Beyond Hats On for Mental Health, our teachers will be engaging students in developmentally appropriate conversations regarding wellness and feelings. Learning that we all experience emotions reduces stigmas and encourages empathy. Likewise, knowing strategies for how deal with emotions, as we are experiencing them, gives students tools for coping.

Research suggests talking about our feelings and mental health challenges can be one step in the healing process. I encourage families to take time this upcoming week to talk with their children about the feelings they keep under their hats. Normalize that feelings are okay to experience and continue to create home environments where children feel safe to express their emotions in a supportive atmosphere. For more information and resources on this topic you can go to a websites like the Canadian Mental Health Association and Mental Health Week.

Sincerely,

Brad Emery
Principal


Apr 23
Volunteering

Dear Parents of Sibylla Kiddle School,

This past week was recognized as National Volunteer Week. I recently learned that 12.7 million Canadians volunteered for charities in 2018 and approximately 74% of Canadians engaged in informal volunteering that same year (StatsCan, 2020). Clearly, we are a nation that uses our time for the benefit of others. 

COVID-19 has put a significant crimp in the ability for parents to volunteer in a school setting since we cannot formally have parents in the building. While volunteering has specific connotations, I believe any time you do something, whether big or small, to make our school community a better place, you are a volunteer. Some of you volunteer your time for big things, sitting on our School Council or Fundraising Society, organizing fundraisers, participating on our Playground Committee or designing our yearbook. These individual volunteers have put in countless invisible hours, behind the scenes, contributing to our school. Thank you!

We recognize that time, circumstances and resources can prevent some parents from volunteering in big ways but we also want to acknowledge the small, yet important ways you also contribute to the on-going development of our school. Staying informed by actually reading school based emails, picking up a piece of garbage that may be on our school field, filling in a survey or even political advocacy for issues related to our school all make a difference in the learning journey of our students. Thank you!

We look forward to the coming day when we can have you volunteering within our school walls, once again. Until then, thank you everything you do, big and small, in making Sibylla Kiddle School a great place to learn.

Sincerely,
Brad Emery
Principal ​


Apr 16
New School Logo

Dear Parents of Sibylla Kiddle School,

Logos are simply pictorial representations of an organization. A great logo would meet lots of criteria. It should be visually appealing, easily identifiable and somehow contain a symbolic sense of what the organization values or who they are. Personally, I love logos that have hidden gems. For example, on the Tostitos logo have you ever noticed the two people dipping a tortilla chip into salsa? Or, have you seen the word ‘mom’ scrawled into the collar of the Wendy’s logo?

b490logo.pngThis past week, after months of consultation, we were proud to unveil our school logo. If you haven’t seen it yet you can look on our school webpage or Twitter profile. Setting out on the development journey we knew we wanted the logo to represent both who our school is and who Sibylla Kiddle was. We also knew we wanted students to have significant voice in the design process.

After going through class discussions about the biography of Sibylla Kiddle our students began brainstorming, debating and sketching ideas for what the logo should include. Staff and students came up with 3 core elements. First, students talked about the importance of having a horse. The horse was originally chosen for us by the architect as symbolic of our school. However, we learned how important Sibylla Kiddle’s horse was to her, as she would ride a horse back and forth every day during her first years of teaching. Secondly, our staff desired a circle representing the cyclical nature of learning, the wholeness of community and equality. The students liked a circle because it represents the cookies Sibylla Kiddle liked to make for others. Finally, it was important to everyone to see the land represented. The land honors our connection to Treaty 7, as well as a place by which we can learn from. Sibylla Kiddle also made the land we learn on today, her home.

Other elements are also symbolically represented in our logo. What do you see? Based on your knowledge of our school and Sibylla Kiddle, what connections do you make? Some connections may be obvious, others far more subtle. Regardless of what you connect with, we hope you see as much joy in our new logo as we do.

Sincerely,

Brad Emery
Principal


Apr 09
Draft Curriculum Input

Dear Parents of Sibylla Kiddle School,

By the time a student in Alberta graduates from Grade 12, they will have had access to over 12 000 hours of instructional time at school. On one hand, that sounds like a lot of time. On the other hand, we all know from raising children that time can go by very quickly.

Those 12 000 hours are guided by something called the Program of Studies, more commonly known as the curriculum. The curriculum is the document teachers use to plan what subject matter and topics they will teach at a particular grade level. No matter where you go in the world, the curriculum will be a reflection of the values held by that culture or society. For example, in Hawaii students are expected to know “the beliefs and ideas depicted in a hula dance." Obviously understanding hula dances isn't in the Alberta curriculum because it is not something our society values.

As you are likely aware, the Alberta Government has recently released a draft copy of a new K-6 Curriculum. Many have weighed in with their opinions and thoughts regarding this new curriculum through social media. It is important that you, as a parent, express your thoughts through the Alberta Government website.

Ideally, it is also important you have an informed opinion by reading at least some of the draft curriculum as written, not just the broad overviews. If curriculum is a reflection of what a society values and wants their children to learn, then the question needs to be asked; What do you value and what do you want your child to learn at school? Before reading the draft curriculum, make a list of things you think should be in a curriculum, which you want your child to learn. Then, at minimum, choose a subject and grade to read the draft curriculum, as presented. Celebrate and note the items on your list that match what you do find in the curriculum. At the same time, it is important to be curious and ask questions when things you value are not represented in the draft document.

Feedback from a wide representation of Albertans will be important as we want to ensure that the final published curriculum represents the values of all Albertans. Major curriculum revisions such as this often only occur once every couple of decades or so. Curriculum is literally the learning foundation for a life time of learning. What learning foundations do you want for your child? Be sure to have your say.

 

Sincerely,

Brad Emery
Principal 

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