I am pleased to announce the appointment of Patrick Tomczyk as the new Principal of Tuscany School starting in September 2021.
We had the great pleasure of meeting with Mr. Tomczyk and he has shared he is excited to join the Tuscany School community and to meet the students, parents, and teachers. He is a “strong believer that elementary schools are safe places for young learners to be curious, to explore, learn and make mistakes, all the while being supported by compassionate adults with high expectations.”
Mr. Tomczyk shared he grew up in NW Calgary and completed his undergraduate work at the University of Calgary and a Master’s degree in Montreal. He holds a PhD in Education from the University of Alberta and his research explores the intersections of curriculum, equity, social justice and school bullying. For the past three years he has provided leadership to four different Wood’s Homes School settings including the George Wood Learning Centre in Bowness, the Wood’s satellite programs at FE Osborne Jr High and at Central Memorial High School, and the Community Stabilization Program. Patrick began teaching with the CBE in French immersion humanities and French as a second language. Since then he has also taught fine arts, advanced placement, special education in system classes and at Christine Meikle School. Finally, Mr. Tomczyk has worked to support CBE students as a guidance counsellor, a Complex Needs Strategist and briefly as a System Specialist in Curriculum and Pathways before becoming an assistant principal. He prides himself on student-centered leadership and is looking forward to continuing to celebrate the success of Tuscany students. Hearing of his extensive background we know he is a natural fit for our beautiful school supporting students and their families and staff in all grades and all programs. Please join Laura Devitt and me in welcoming Mr. Tomczyk and all of his gifts to Tuscany School.
In addition, there is a link to a survey included within this message. This survey is an opportunity for Tuscany staff and parents to share their feed-back with Mr. Tomczyk as he joins the Tuscany team. Your feedback will help him hear your voice and gain perspective from all stakeholders. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts. The survey will be open until Sunday, May 30.
Please note: There is a button on the top right where you can choose whether you want to respond to the survey in French or English.
Tuscany School Principal
I think back over 7 years and wonder at all of the changes we have experienced together.
Seven years ago, we had 8 classes of every grade from Kindergarten to Grade 3. There were children everywhere in the building with teachers working in collaborative groups with support staff around every location. Alfred, Brent and Mark worked diligently to keep one step ahead of the daily evidence of innovative design thinking and creative expression by staff and students alike.
Then Eric Harvie School opened and we were thrilled to share the same space with two complete schools, together under one roof. The students were not always clear if they belonged to Eric Harvie School or Tuscany School. They simply knew they belonged. The Sisterhood was formed between Tuscany School, Eric Harvie School and Twelve Mile Coulee School.
Tuscany School expanded to include Grade 4 students once again and we were thrilled to share space at Twelve Mile Coulee School. We met and started our work with Ryan Jason Allen Willert, a Blackfoot Artist from Red Deer. Ryan worked with our students to lift the history and culture of the Blackfoot People as the students created murals for our outdoor classroom. Ryan’s signature Bison Head stands tall above the entryway.
Brandie Cormier, artist extraordinaire, guided our grade 4 students to recreate her painting of the coulee during 4 seasons and different times of day onto the garage door. This mural celebrates another connection to the land and our relationship with the coulee.
reGenerate Design helped us to create a way of water capture through plants native to the area. Their expertise mixed with Morgan’s and Andrea’s energy, enthusiasm and muscle, turned our property into a microcosm of the coulee.
Stephanie Bartlett and our Elder Saa’kokoto invited Tuscany School into a school-wide opportunity to record and create books on Elder Saa’kokoto’s stories as he shared them with us in the coulee. This experience was imagined and developed into our Blackfoot Opera “Na’a’s Heartbeat”. This included artists Kris Demeanor, Darcy Turning Robe, Winton and Thunder, Rebecca Reese and, Lauren, our director from Calgary Opera. This experience shared by students, staff, Saa’kokoto, Stephanie and the duo from Calgary Opera, made that year pivotal in our work within our Indigenous Strategy.
We welcomed our Early Childhood Development Centre (EDC) and learned so much from these beautiful preschool aged children and the staff that came to provide a great educational environment. Through the expertise of these individuals the children flourished.
French Immersion arrived at Tuscany School. It was amazing to see the staff and students adjust to their new learning environment, build relationships and add to the multi-linguistic approach to learning at Tuscany School.
We said farewell to the EDC and welcomed 2 classes of Enhanced Educational Supports (EES). The staff and students have brought such an incredible opportunity for us all to listen, learn and understand many ways of learning. Our students in the EES program enrich our lives in so many ways and we love having them with us.
Throughout all seven years, I have had the honour of working with the most extraordinary School Council. This council has continuously placed all of the children in the Tuscany community, along with Royal Oak and Rocky Ridge at the centre of every decision they have made. Their courage and strength to hold every child in their hearts and minds has created a strong village full of caring, hope and joy. The dedication to the school and its staff over the past seven years has been nothing short of awe inspiring.
The community of families with extended family members within our boundaries and beyond has brought such a gift to me over these years. I have often said to people, “I work in heaven”. I came to a place so filled with light and love it has been tremendously difficult to consider leaving. I told everyone seven years ago; I change every five years. Knowing this is the completion of my seventh year, you know how difficult it is for me to move on. With each year of change, I wanted to stay and be enriched by each moment. I wanted to provide consistency, guidance, reassurance and joy to each new experience.
Covid hit and one of the biggest silver linings I witnessed was the incredible strength of this community. The comradery of people coming together to lift each other up, to ensure everyone had a chance to support each other in the difficult dark days and those with joy and laughter. This is a village of strong, courageous, generous people, dedicated to education. It has been an honor to get to know you and spend the past seven years surrounded by all of you.
So it is with such mixed emotions that I announce my retirement effective June 30, 2021.
Based on Saa’kokoto’s wisdom, I know we have the right people in the right places to lift our work forward through multi-aging and concept based instruction. Our Indigenous strategy will continue through the expertise of Stephanie Bartlett, Elder Saa’kokoto and the leadership team at Tuscany School. Laura Devitt has already proven herself to be a strong, capable caring member of our community and is more than equipped to help ease a new Principal into our school. The staff are all dedicated and focused on lifting students and will be eager to share their story with a new Principal. The Council and community is so generous and open to having new people come into the community, the new Principal will be so grateful to spend time in such an extraordinary school.
Please know you have lifted me up and filled my heart with such light and love that it will carry me forward into new adventures. You have gifted me with such incredible stories to relive and share with others. I know you will embrace a new Principal coming to work with all of you to discover the incredible beauty of Tuscany School.
Principal, Tuscany School
We have some changes to staffing we would like to announce:
Julie Miller will be returning to school on Monday. We would like to thank Rebecca Reese for supporting us with our music program during Mrs. Miller’s absence. Mrs. Reese has been an asset during the past two months in engaging students in alternative music activities.
We would like to welcome Laura Devitt to our school as our new Assistant Principal. Mrs. Devitt brings her gifts of experiences with French Immersion as a parent and spouse as well as working with diversity, design thinking and inquiry approaches to learning. We want to welcome Mrs. Devitt to Tuscany School and look forward to having her share more about herself in the near future.
We have been receiving questions about Valentine’s Day. To make it absolutely Covid friendly teachers are designing ways for children to share their kind words and wishes internally. We will create displays of appreciation for each other within our school using materials already present. Our messages will be spread throughout the school but no paper valentines will be exchanged. Our messages will remain visible for a lengthy period of time for students to see each day. This will help them be surrounded by a caring community of peers throughout February into March. We ask that no paper valentines be sent from home during this February.
Just a reminder about physical distancing after school; please note that while some may be unmasked while picking up their children from outside, we need to remember to honor the 6’ distance when unmasked. This will help us all respect each other during our ongoing challenge with keeping numbers low. I appreciate your attention and thoughtfulness around this request.
Stay safe, stay warm and enjoy the sunshine.
Principal, Tuscany School
As we bring 2020 to a close we want to thank all of you for your dedication to keeping children safe, following safety protocols and staying home when sick. You have helped turn mask wearing into an expectation and a joyful experience when children get to design and select patterns of images they enjoy. We continue to launder any masks left behind and reuse them. If you happen to be missing a mask of a particular design please let us know and we will set it aside for the owner.
We have bagged all the items placed in lost and found. None of these have labels identifying a child’s name so we were unable to find the owner. This bag of items will remain in the school until the end of June so if you discover your child is missing something and you can provide details, we are happy to retrieve it and return to owner.
We hope everyone enjoyed our winter celebration. It is so wonderful to be able to share our celebrations in new ways. The staff loved the parent video created for us. It just goes to show how creative, dynamic and caring you are!
Teacher Appreciation committee – thank you! You always find ways to share appreciation for the staff of Tuscany School and we cannot thank you enough. You bring such joy to our hearts!
Kindergarten registration begins January 11th. We have completed our Virtual Open House that includes French Immersion grade 1 as students may enter the Early French Immersion program at either Kindergarten or grade 1. This will be posted on our website so share the word with neighbors in our communities to let them know to check out our website for information
We also know that spending time January 5th-8th online will be smooth. The teachers and students practiced going on to google classroom and working within this space to know how to access materials. The teachers have shared information about schedules and logging on for whatever your child needs so make sure you contact them if you have any questions. We are here to support our families as you work through this process. We will be back to “in person” learning” for January 11th unless we hear otherwise. We will keep everyone informed in the new year. Reminder: No school for students on January 4th as this is our Professional Development Day.
HUB online learning reminder: Should any of our students and families wish to return to in person learning on the school site February 1st, you must let us know by January 8th. This will allow for schools to be ready for an increase in student numbers within each school. Do not feel any pressure to return to in-person as HUB will continue to support your children for the rest of the school term until the end of June. Feel free to make the decision that best serves your family. We will continue to engage all families as we experience this year in such a unique way.
We have news to share around staffing at this time. Ms. Miller has been off on a small leave and we have had the opportunity to have Ms. Reese rejoin us for the time Ms. Miller is away. She will be providing music opportunities during the week of January 5-8th through your child’s
teacher. We are so grateful to have Ms. Reese back to cover this time and get to spend time with the students again.
It is with strong mixed emotions that I announce the departure of Mr. Jorgensen. Mr. J. has been a treasured member of Tuscany School for the past 5 years and is now ready to explore new opportunities. He has accepted the position of Assistant Principal at Wildwood School. They are very fortunate to have such a talented and caring person join their school. Mr. J. would like to share a few words.
“Dear Tuscany School Families,
I am writing to inform you that I have accepted the Assistant Principal position at Wildwood School. My time at Tuscany has been most memorable, with many meaningful relationships forged and cherished memories created. It does not seem that long ago that I arrived at Tuscany with my first day running the Pedal Heads Learn to Bike Program as well as being informed that I had best get practicing my dance moves for the surprise Flash Mob dance routine for the year end BBQ. The video is online - dance skills were on point - and I will leave you to search for it. There have been other amazing moments at Tuscany, such as the designing of the Gathering Space and the very first Indigenous opera with Elder Saa'kokoto and Calgary Opera, but the thing I will miss most are the people. There is something very special about the Tuscany School community, whether your home base be in Tuscany, Rocky Ridge or Royal Oak. There is such a high level of kindness, regard for each other and desire to ensure that all feel that they belong. I will miss the students, who brought a smile to my face every day, and my colleagues who were and continue to be the most dedicated and stellar staff.
I will be popping into Google Meets the week of January 5 - 8 to say goodbye to the students and wish them the best in their learning journey.
I wish all families a happy holiday and the very best in the New Year.
We wish Mr. Jorgensen all the best as he takes on new challenges and shares his gifts with Wildwood School.
When one door closes, another opens and we will be bringing in a new Assistant Principal by the end of January following the interview process. I will make that announcement later in January. Mrs. Gainor, Mrs. Glowacki, Mrs. Krause and I will continue to provide strong leadership for all our staff, students and families.
For now, we will focus on the silver linings change brings. While we feel the loss of what we know and love, we make room for the new. Our constant evolution is what keeps us strong.
From the Tuscany Staff to all of you, may this holiday bring you light and love, joy and laughter, and lots of wonderful stories to share.
I cannot tell you how seasonally confused I feel when it snows on May 8th and is 20 degrees November 2nd. My body doesn't know if it should move into or out of hibernation. I am grateful, though. Any day I don't have to shovel is a good day.
I approach each month with hope and optimism. Hope happens when we all come together and do the heavy lifting. I know how hard you are all working to stay safe, follow the checklist, and keep children at home when symptoms arise. The Tuscany School Staff all thank you for doing this part of the heavy lifting. Without your support, our work becomes that much more difficult. Our staff is doing everything they can to keep the school sanitized, remain in cohorts, minimize shared spaces and materials and stay healthy. We all will continue to be the “village" working together to strengthen the whole.
Please see our message sent out on October 30th regarding the new Daily Checklist for Children under age 18 for details. There are slight modifications that you will want to stay current round. Alberta Health is strongly recommending flu shots this year. I will leave it up to you to make the best decision for your child(ren).
I want to thank everyone who participated in building our Pumpkin Patches this year. The video clip sent home through the blogs is sure to bring back memories of the carving experience. All of the students were able to tour through all of the patches throughout the day. One staff member commented on how wonderful it was to see parents bring their pumpkins and drop them off in patches first thing in the morning. There are these beautiful moments that give us insight to the way things used to be and how we are adapting to the way things can be this year. Your participation helps make it special for the students and staff!
We are working on our next project of our Remembrance Day ceremony. Everyone is working hard to share another experience with you virtually so please stay tuned. Thank you to those who have sent photos of family members for our slide show. We will use photos sent to us in previous years unless you ask us to remove them. We have removed photos for all families who have moved on to TMC School just to follow our rules around consent to post and publish.
Just a reminder that Remembrance Day is Wednesday, November 11 and the school will be closed.
Soon you will receive a notice about FEES through Communications. This will detail the information around Instructional Supplies and Materials fees, commonly known as ISM. Prior to the NDP government's time in office, ISM fees were charged to parents. The NDP party took the fee on themselves. However, this year the parents assume the payments. The ISM fee of $40.00 for grades 1-6, inclusive of EES and $20.00 for our Kindergarten students covers all of the school supplies your child uses this year. This will also apply to our HUB families to cover costs associated with online books and materials accessed by HUB classroom students.
Noon Supervision fees will be uploaded to your accounts and this covers a large portion of the cost of lunchroom supervisors. Drop-in fees of $5.00 per visit need to be paid to the school if you choose this option.
Throughout the year there will be fees associated with our virtual field trips, dance residencies and visits with discipline specific specialists. The fees for these programs come up throughout the year. Your child's teacher will keep you informed of the virtual tours and guest speakers they will be accessing. We try to keep costs down while still getting the opportunity to accessing experts in the field.
Our School Council provides a tremendous amount of funding for a number of events and residencies at no cost to our parents. With their help, we have been able to secure things like Alien in-Iine, artist in residencies and musical opportunities celebrating Carnaval. We are still understanding what this will evolve into this year. For example, we had Sound Kreations booked originally for September, shifted it to November and now will have them during the spring. We will keep our hopes for an in-person visit from our instructor AJ but will also go with plan B if we need to live stream him into the gym for classes. We are always looking at Plan B.
Please join us for our School Council meeting on Thursday, November 12th at 6:30. Our School Council Chair, Michelle, will be sending out the link on that day and we always enjoy seeing those who are able to attend. Our parents are dearly missed within our building and we look for ways of connecting us all together. So if you have a chance come and join us on the 12th.
Here we are in June. This is a time to reflect back on accomplishments and share what we know about next year start up. You will need to make yourself a cup of tea for this one as it is quite lengthy.
First, I want to take some time to thank all of you during these challenging times. The strength of the Tuscany Community was so evident each and every day. Individually, you experienced unexpected change, had to shift your whole design plan into one that incorporated working from home, becoming partners with teachers in guiding and supporting your child’s education, recreational planners to keep children entertained indoors, learning new health and safety protocols, physically disconnecting with a world you were so connected to, and missing friends and family members. This is only scratching the surface of all the things you faced over the past three months. Knowing we were all facing the same situation brought us closer together but, if you were like me, Google Meet, Skype, Zoom and any other platform of visually connecting with others just didn’t cut it. However, we all adapted.
Then the nature of the community emerged. Sharing “Acts of kindness and generosity” emerged and instead of thinking about ourselves, we started to think of others and the impact this pandemic was having on our neighbors, family, friends, teachers and so many more. People reaching out to help, share kind words and appreciation that we were together and here for each other. You may never know the impact you had on the staff of Tuscany School. You need to know it was powerful. Your support, care and attention towards this staff helped lift the spirits of all and suddenly we moved into sharing of stories of the experiences we had. The shared video clips of children provided endless joy, conversations within Google classrooms and D2L were inspiring. The signs and food helped the office staff to feel the nourishing care. Due to the contributions by students, I successfully found a moose and stood in awe as this beautiful animal patiently posed for pictures that I could send to Saa’kokoto in my excitement. He told me the moose represents courage. It is no surprise to have moose reside in such a strong and courageous community as Tuscany.
Our Minister of Education spoke yesterday and shared information about the return to school in the fall. We are all hopeful and confident about the future and look forward to hearing clarifying information from the government on August 1st. Calgary Board of Education task force is working on plans for all three scenarios and will be ready for the announcement in August.
The provincial budget has had a powerful impact as well.
Due to the cuts in PUF funding, Tuscany School will be closing its EDC program. There has been a new model developed to support our youngest learners. EDC will exist at 3 sites, one of which will be a campus setting at Guy Weadick School. Many of our students in the EDC were ready for Kindergarten and registered in their neighborhood schools. The rest are able to access the programs at Guy Weadick or are able to access private programs closer to their homes.
This means we will also be saying farewell to our wonderful EDC staff. Kristal Spencer, teacher; Ana Loyola Rocha, Early Childhood Practitioner; Karin Hauf, Speech Language Assistant, will be leaving Tuscany School as of June 30th. Their extraordinary talents lifting children’s skills, developing rich and rewarding relationships, and creating dynamic learning experiences were embraced and appreciated by all. We loved every minute of our time together with these amazing children and their families and want to wish everyone safe journeys as they make their way forward.
The loss of Class Size Funding has had a substantial impact on our school staff for Kindergarten to Grade 3 students. In the past, we were able to staff at ratio to numbers of students for this age group. With the loss of the Class Size funding the ratio of students per staff have increased. This has resulted in a loss of our teaching staff. In these circumstances, we move to seniority lists and select those with the least seniority on staff. It is with great sadness we need to announce the loss of Kyria Pires (Kindergarten teacher), Rashmi Baldwin and Karen Arcure (grade 3 teachers), and Jada Belin (grade 4 teacher). All of our teachers have been such integral members of the Tuscany family and will be deeply missed. We know their talents will benefit the schools they are moving to, so while we say goodbye to this group at the end of June, they will always be family to us and will remain connected in so many ways.
One of the design models we need to address is the ratio of students to teachers. We have created several scenarios to look at designs that are in the best interest of our students. Collectively, we feel we need to move into multi-aging to allow the ratios to be equitable across the board and not place certain grades with 33-34 students into the design. This means we will be implementing multi-aging scenarios as follows:
Kindergarten – currently have 2 classes – 1 AM serving Rocky Ridge and Royal Oak (and some Tuscany-non bused students chosen from a wait list) and 1 PM class Tuscany residents.
Two classes of grade 1; one class of grade 1/2; one class of grade 2/3; one class of grade 3/4; one class of grade 4/5.
This allows classes to remain reasonable in their sizes; it also allows for any students that choose to enter the program in grade 1. Last year we started with 22 and ended up with 32. In anticipation of the new year we are prepared now for new students entering at this grade.
Kindergarten – currently have 2 classes
We will have 2 classes of grade 1, two classes of grade 2, one class of grade 2/3; two classes of grade 3, one class of grade 3/4; and 2 classes of grade 4. Again, this prevents us from looking at grades with 33 students.
Typically, we would have held a special information session to introduce these changes, take your questions and gather feedback. However, we are living in unique times. Included below is some research for you to access. Multi-aging is not split grades. It is very different and offers tremendous advantages to all children. Eric Harvie School opened its doors implementing multi-aged approaches to teaching and learning. I had expressed my support of this model and now we will be able to introduce it gradually.
Today, classrooms reflect the educational environment as a triangle, the three points represented by the teacher, the student, and the content. Teachers provide opportunities for each child to engage in rich educational tasks that take the child along the processes of skill development within each subject area. Students and teachers are collaborative goal setters in the educational work. Teachers use a variety of assessment tools to monitor and measure academic growth which they use to share with students and
their parents. In a multi-age environment this is the same. Teachers design an activity based on concepts, skills and learning outcomes and look at the student’s stage of skill development. The teacher creates the activity so that it can meet the range of skill complexity so that the students may work at the level they need to master before progressing to the next level.
This means we are not grouping students by their abilities. There will be diversity of learning styles within each class as there has always been at Tuscany School and teachers are prepared to “personalize” their learning environments to meet the needs of all students.
The research on multi aging classrooms is extensive as this model of instructional delivery has been in practice for decades. Much of the material I have listed is dated, however, access to articles through the University and on-line are available as well. I can suggest titles such as:
Short, Kathy, and Carolyn Burke. Creating Curriculum: Teachers and Students as a Community of Learners. Portsmith, NH; Heinemann, 1991
Pigdon, Keith, and Marilyn Woolley, eds. The Big Picture: Integrating Children’s Learning. Armdale, Australia: Eleanor Curtain Publishing, 1992
Ministry of Education, Province of British Columbia. Supporting Learning: Understanding and Assessing the Progress of Children. Victoria, BC, 1991
Kasten, W., and B. Clarke. The Multi-Age Classroom: A Family of Learners. Katonah, NY: Richard Owen, 1993
Gardner, Howard: Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligence. New York: Basic Books, 1985
Barrell, John. Teaching for Thoughtfulness: Classroom Strategies to Enhance Intellectual Development. New York: Longman, 1991
Politano, Colleen and Anne Davies: Multi-Age and More, Building Connections. Winnipeg: Peguis Publishers, 1994
As I say, this is a great deal of information to digest as we work our way through to opening in the all.
I was discussing all of the changes Tuscany School has experienced over the last 6 years. We went from 8 classes of each grade with almost 800 students to the arrival of the Eric Harvie staff. We operated two schools under one roof for four incredible months. Our population went to 465 in a short period of time. We celebrated Arbour Day with all four schools in the Tuscany neighborhood. We lifted our Indigenous Strategy working with Ryan Jason Allen Willert and then with Saa’kokoto. Working with Saa’kokoto we published Blackfoot stories told to us by our Elder and then created an Indigenous Opera, the first of its kind. We brought in our EDC classrooms. With the departures of our EDC it has created space for us to bring in our EES classes.
EES stands for “Enhanced Educational Supports” comprised of students with specific learner profiles. Each of the two classes coming to Tuscany School has a teacher and two Educational Assistants. We are welcoming the staff from the CSSI class at Cambrian Heights School as well as the staff from Brentwood School CSSI class to join us for the fall. We are looking forward to expanding our school profile to include the EES classes.
As we move forward, we will continue to link arms and lean into the challenges we face and celebrate all the “silver linings” that come from learning new things. The staff of Tuscany School is grateful for your ability to work as partners. Together we can accomplish so much!
When we started this journey no one could possibly predict the changes that could happen so quickly. We all wondered if we were at all prepared to do this with the skills, tools and techniques we have in our toolkits. I am certain our parents were wondering the same thing along with trying to balance parenting with professional duties and ongoing challenges with dealing with changes each day.
Six weeks into this process I will let you know I have learned a great deal more than I knew was possible. Like you, I went through the stages of first, “waiting for this to be over”, and then being frustrated with this is “never over”, and finally into the stage of “acceptance”. Once I embraced this stage I was in a better place of listening, learning, and leading. I am so proud of the work of the staff of Tuscany School. Each member has risen to the challenge of maintaining relationships with students and parents, providing ongoing learning opportunities, tasks and challenges. I have delighted in popping into classes to see your children’s beautiful faces and hear their stories and sharing of their adventures. It is the best part of my day.
We all have become partners in the learning process and can learn so much from each other as well as the children. I have watched how children are growing into their understanding of how to work online. I smile when I think of the visits I made to classes early in April. Children were fascinated with finding their faces and seeing themselves on the screen. There were plenty of opportunities for exploring this type of engagement. Now I am so pleased to see so many children have moved into demonstrating their skills around the digital citizenship plan working in respectful ways. Learning how to focus on the discussions, taking turns in speaking and learning the tools has been a challenge that most are now quite fluent.
Our next step is looking at ways children can use their newfound skills in demonstrating greater independence in their engagement and task completion. Again, this is a work in progress and we all are partners within the process so have patience as we move to the next step in our learning.
When teachers create tasks for students in online learning, challenges arise. Teachers are not seeing the different ways children are approaching those tasks. What and how children produce is exactly what teachers need to see at each stage of learning. This way, teachers recognize what the child is able to do, provide ongoing feedback and make recommendations. If a teacher sees only the finished product, they are not able to provide the ongoing feedback the children usually receive when in the classroom. This way they can hear their teacher’s voice, accept feedback and make incremental adjustments to what they are creating. If you find yourself doing the activities with, and possibly for your child it is now time to sit back and let them take the reins. You have been so incredibly supportive getting them online, learning the tools of the new learning environment so it may be a good time to step back and let them run with what they have learned. Teachers need to see what children come up with on their own to have a clear picture of how to design activities at their level and not make them too easy or too difficult.
We respect your desire to save your child from frustrations but this too, is part of the learning process. I can speak from experience; technology is not my area of expertise, as many of you know. I am learning so much over the past month that even the staff are surprised at what I can do for myself! I keep them on call in case I run into trouble and that’s what I want you to do, too. Stay close to assist with troubleshooting, but don’t feel you need to take all the troubles away. We all learn through our struggles and feel a true sense of accomplishment through what is learned through the process.
I have learned some tips from colleagues that will help guide this:
Feel free to help interpret directions. Sometimes children are not sure what the teacher is asking for and your mentorship through this is so supportive. Once they know, give them space.
When your child asks for help, ask them, “What have you tried so far?” This will help them know they need to exercise their thinking muscles, give time for problem solving and move into their first attempts. If they have the chance to think about confusions and talk about them aloud, you may be surprised how well they can come to a new plan all on their own. Talking aloud can be a great strategy when trying to think of a solution.
Rely on teacher tools such as visuals, checklists, and other references for children to rely upon. Children can use these tools to check off what they need to do, how they can approach tasks and self evaluate what they have done. Their opinion of their work matters so much.
Take frequent breaks. I have had to learn this the hard way. I have discovered that too much screen time is very hard on my body, brain, and eyes. I am much happier when I spend a limited amount of time on screens and the majority of my time being creative and dynamic engaged with “movement” activities.
Give yourself a pat on the back. You are doing incredible work with balancing so much on your shoulders. This has been such a challenging time for everyone. Sometimes letting go of “schoolwork” is just the right thing to do in the moment. You know best.
I want to say a temporary farewell to our Lunchroom and cleaning staff: Mrs. Ali, Mrs. Ghalambor, Mrs. Spadafora, Mrs. Acanski-Dubroja, Mrs. Yeh, Mrs, Bloemraad, Mrs. Mansey and Mr. Gilliland have all received temporary lay off notices official today. We have appreciated the ongoing support that this wonderful group has been engaged in and want to wish them well as they tackle gardening, reading and a host of other activities during the next 4 months. We are all looking forward to having them return in the fall safe and well rested.
I want to thank you all for doing the heavy lifting at home, working in partnerships with our teaching staff and Educational Assistants. We are living through unique experiences. I am astonished by the number of “silver linings” I discover every day. It seemed that not long ago I wondered when this would end. Now I am wondering if we will be able to hold onto those learnings that have actually allowed us to focus on what is truly important savoring the moments we are able to share with our families.
Please know we miss you all, the school echoes without the sound of children engaged in the classrooms, hallways and playground. I will continue to pop into classrooms online and take joy in being part of this new learning environment.
“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass; it’s about learning to dance in the rain.”
You have received messages from CBE Communications and our Chief Superintendent Chris Usih around the way we are moving forward. You also have heard from your child’s teacher prior to spring break and will hear from them again on Monday when teachers return to work. I just wanted you to hear from me, now.
These interesting times in which we live present gifts and challenges. No matter where we go in the world in the future, we all will share the memory of these days, together as a global family. The lessons we learn and how we have embraced them today will have tremendous impact on each one of us as we grow forward.
For me, I am so acutely aware of how much I miss the sound of children’s voices. When I sit at the front desk and close my eyes, I can draw upon the memories of the sound of their laughter, sharing ideas, jokes, engage in “running” commentary. I am so deeply aware of how their voices fill my heart; provide me with energy and enthusiasm. Their faces share smiles of delight that lighten my day. I also miss the sounds of the adults that flow in and out in varying capacities, whether volunteering, picking up children or dropping things off. The critical relationship of home and school is vital to building a sense of belonging. You are my “village” and I miss you all.
Now, I have a choice. I can stay in days of missing what I feel I have lost, or I can embrace the chance to learn new “dancing” moves. The way we are moving forward is an opportunity to get excited about design thinking. It brings children into a way of relating to education as a lived experience as it surrounds them. It does not rely on a building, a bell, or a lunch kit. It is about the relationship between big ideas and breaking down those ideas into smaller building blocks of understanding. Children’s experiences can continue be designed by excellent teachers with the help of parents. We are in this together and are perfect dancing partners to enrich the educational experiences of the children we share. We are looking forward to engaging in ways we have not thought of before and in doing so could be changing the way we all embrace and interpret education.
The staff of Tuscany School have all eagerly leaned in to doing things differently in order to maintain relationships with their students, design tasks in ways that all learners can engage and continue to believe so deeply in teaching and learning. They constantly inspire me. Our Facility Operator, Li, has been so thorough in keeping the building clean and sterilized to allow us to feel safe and healthy as we continue to do our best work possible. Our Support Staff continue to engage in professional Development to increase their skills and talents in working with children in so many different ways to benefit the educational supports for our students. Together, we all can make a profound difference in the lives of our children.
Get your dancing shoes on and let the music begin….
December is that time of year when people give thanks for the blessings they have. I would like to share mine with you.
We have all been on a difficult journey since October when the provincial budget came into reality. It was natural for everyone to fear the worst and this created a desire for detailed information, reassurances, and opportunities for advocacy on behalf of public education. My father’s voice is always in my ear. He encouraged me to stand strong and let speculations, rumors, and biased thinking fall away. “Know what is true and important and let that be your guide.” With that in mind, Tuscany School adhered to system direction and priorities, wherein we placed students first and kept learning as our central purpose knowing that public education serves the common good. I am so grateful we can go forward with our Tuscany Staff intact. Our children continue to invest in their trusted relationships with staff members until the end of June.
I am also grateful for the profound strength within our community that continues to support public education in so many ways, representing so many teachers and valued program opportunities for our system. You made it clear every student matters. I encourage you to keep up the great work, do your homework, dig deep and ask critical questions such as “What is this about?” “Who does it serve?” “How will it impact our children in their future?” Together we will continue to put quality public education as a priority for all of our children.
I am so grateful for the Tuscany parents and extended family members. Your ongoing support of Tuscany School is heart warming. Volunteering endless hours on field trips, providing special snacks and fun lunches, helping families move smoothly through Kiss n Drop, library support, classroom reading and material preparations, incredible teacher appreciation events and so much more inspire me every day. Your ability to show how important it is to care about others in so many ways create the very village to which we all want to belong. You make spirits bright.
I want to thank our incredible Tuscany Staff. We have had challenging moments over the past few months. Your strength and resiliency is endless. I have come to know when times get tough our wonderful staff pulls together and finds ways to lift our spirits high.
I also want to thank this wonderful village for all of the heartfelt wishes and supports I have received due to my father’s passing. He was a wonderful man with great wisdom. His voice lives on in my ears.
As you make your way through this wondrous season of giving, may your time with family and friends be filled with laughter and joy. May the food you share be made with love and may all your travels over the holidays be safe and smooth sailing. We look forward to seeing everyone back on January 7th, 2020.
I want to share with all our families the importance of belonging
to the “village”. Dr. Martin Brokenleg shared in his book Reclaiming Youth at
Risk pg. 37-38, “In traditional Native society, it was the duty of all adults
to serve as teachers for younger persons. … Children were trained to see
themselves as related to virtually all with whom they had regular contact. …
Treating others as related was a powerful social value that transformed human
relationships. Drawing them into one’s circle motivated one to show respect and
concern, and live with a minimum of friction and a maximum of good will.” Our
ability to recognize and know we belong is vital to our well-being. It is also
important to know we need to actively reach out and connect others to the
village and show them how important they are to the village and how much they
are valued. This helps us to connect to others beyond our community.
The strength of our village is shared every day in the way
we engage with each other. The school is connected to each family who is
connected to the community. With every positive, caring action of our children,
families and school the community reflects this caring and shares it out to the
larger stage. The ripple effect is so far reaching it is felt by those
connected to each of us beyond the community of Tuscany. Each member of this
“village” is critical to our well-being and everyone has an important role in
lifting each other up, inspiring, supporting and holding each other in our
This Friday our students and staff are paying honor to those
who have served and those currently serving in the military showing how
important they are to us as members of our village. Each of us have family
member names that have been part of a history and those who continue to make
history by their actions to create a world of peace. You are welcome to join us
for either the 9:00 or 10:30 ceremony. For those new to Remembrance Day
ceremonies at school, photos and video recordings are not allowed. We invite
you all to come and share your respect alongside of us. If you are unable to
join us, wherever you may be at 11:00 am on November 11th, please
take a minute to think about the larger village to which each of us belongs and
give thanks for those who impact our lives in so many ways enabling us to build
such strong communities of caring, generous and loving people. We are grateful
to you all.
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