Transcript of Opening Remarks from September 21 "Meet the Teacher" Event:
Oki, Tansi, Danit’ada, Aba-wath-tech, Bonjour, and Welcome everyone to Vincent Massey School for our meet the teacher evening. My name is David Pugh and I am the proud principal of this school. We have a tremendously diverse population of nearly 800 students from a large area of western and central Calgary. Some of them are born and raised here, some of them have only been in Canada for a few weeks. Regardless, we share a great learning community in a beautiful part of the world. I only actually speak one of the languages with which I greeted you, and if you are a native speaker of Canada’s other official language, or of the Blackfoot, Stoney, Michif, or Tsuut’ina languages of Treaty 7, you will be relieved that I will spare you any further bad pronunciation. Nevertheless, it is important to remember that this community and this place are part of Treaty 7 and, regardless of our backgrounds, we are all Treaty 7 people. With that in mind, we would like to acknowledge the traditional territories and oral practices of the Blackfoot Nations, which includes the Siksika, the Piikani and the Kainai. We also acknowledge the Tsuut’ina and Stoney Nakoda First Nations, the Métis Nation (Region 3), and all people who make their homes in the Treaty 7 region of Southern Alberta.
While we are a large and diverse community, our commitment – the commitment of this team - is to connect with every student as an individual. Research and, to be frank, common sense, tell us that students who feel a sense of connection and belonging will be more successful as we work towards our common goals, which are that your children are engaged in their current learning, prepared for future learning, and ultimately that they experience success in life. There are many ways that we support those connections – extracurricular and intramural sports, a selection of clubs, field trips, special activity days, our strong band and outdoor education programs, and a rich variety of option courses, all of which you’ll see evidence of in the building today. On a personal note, I feel incredibly fortunate to have landed at Vincent Massey – there is so much going on all the time and so many opportunities to have school be a fun experience.
That being said, at the core of our work are our regular classes. I’m still learning lots about this school but one thing that has been absolutely clear from day one is that we have an amazing group of teachers doing that work every day. You’ll have a chance to meet them this evening, so I won’t put them on the spot with one-by-one introductions right now, but I did want to spotlight our leadership team, starting with the learning leaders.
Mr. Court Rustymeyer works with our option programs, particularly outdoor education, and is also part of our well-being and student leadership team.
Mr. Andrew Cull is one or our math and science experts, is a leader in of our Grade 7 team and has been instrumental in moving forward indigenous learning in the building.
Ms. Teri Oberlin is a true literacy expert and has joint responsibility for humanities instruction, as well as being the other half of the Grade 7 leadership team.
Ms. Cheryl Ruttle also leads our humanities team and, as part of the Grade 8 and 9 teaching teams, has an eye on high school readiness and the needs of our older students.
Mr. Kyle Geraldi is master of all things athletic, leading our PE team and supporting our school well-being and student voice goals and is a coordinator of many of our extracurricular activities.
Mr. Cory Hall has a passion for construction and is another leader of our option classes. He also has an extensive background in guidance counselling and complex needs programs, and we draw on his expertise to support at-risk students.
Ms. Angela Weimer is our resource teacher and specifically helps students with identified special needs, as well as providing more general strategies and support as we collaborate to work with every student’s unique needs.
Last but certainly not least in our leadership team is Ms. Meghann Springett. As Assistant Principal, Meghann is the other half of the administration team, and we speak with one voice on the overall organization and leadership of the school. Meghann is a tremendously capable professional and I’ve been very fortunate to have her experience and support as I’ve transitioned into this role. We’ve quickly found that our philosophy of leadership and vision for middle school learning is very much aligned. If you are speaking to Meghann, you are speaking to me, and vice versa.
Please give a big hand to all these amazing teachers!
I’ve spoken about students and staff but there is a third critical part of our community and that is, you, the parents and guardians. I believe in strong partnerships with families and strive for clear, open, and frequent communication. If you have any questions regarding your child’s learning, your first point of contact should be the classroom teacher. For general information, we try to keep the school website up to date and accurate. You can also find a “parent cheat sheet” under the “Contact Us” section of the website, which outlines all the processes to get in touch and follow up on any questions or concerns you may have.
There are also more formal opportunities to get connected with the school. These include the School Council, as well as Parent and Band Associations. Obviously, fundraising efforts are a key part of their work and are important, as they bring much appreciated resources that support and enhance the learning experience of students. However, the School Council also has an important consultative role and is the best way to get fully informed about the overall administration, operations, and teaching philosophy at Vincent Massey. We have several key positions that need to be filled but there are other opportunities to get involved if you would like.
Remarks from Chris Le Bihan, chair of the Vincent Massey Parent Council Association.
In just a moment, I’m going to invite you to head to the first stop on your evening meet the teacher tour. Grade 7’s can go to their A Day option class, Grade 8’s can start in the North Gym with PE, Grade 9’s will start with their Math/Science teachers. Please remember that the purpose of this evening is to “put a face to a name” and understand the overall plans and expectations for each class. If you do need a personal meeting prior to the formal conferences, you should email the teacher to set something up.
Also, as you may have experienced in your own homes, we do have some of the inevitable early school year bugs working their way through the building and a couple of teachers are not here. In particular, I wanted to mention that Ms. Campbell, who is the humanities teacher for 7-1 and 7-35 is sick and we have recently confirmed that Mr. Hargreaves is not returning to Vincent Massey. Ms. Sydney Wilson has stepped into the role in the near term but, since she’s only just joined us, she isn’t with us tonight. All that to say that parents of students in 7-1 and 7-35 can join other members of the Grade 7 team in Rooms 4 or 23. I apologize for the inconvenience and disappointment, but our Grade 7 team does work very closely, so you’ll have a good sense of the overall plan and expectations for the year.
If you’re not sure where to go, please look at the posted signs or speak to one of the student volunteers in the hallway.
Enjoy your time in the school!
Good afternoon Vincent Massey community,
We've enjoyed a first full week of our school year, with regular class routines in place. We are continuing to make some minor adjustments to our option classes, in order to balance class sizes.
As I'm walking around the building, getting to know students, I'm constantly reminded that the teachers are the heart of this school. Whether it's teaching lessons, helping new students find their way, or running sports team tryouts, nothing is possible without their hard work and dedication. For those of you who've had children at Massey for a long time, some of these teachers will be very familiar faces but I wanted to take a moment to introduce a some new ones:
- Ms. Amy Campbell is teaching Grade 7 and 9 Humanities. She was previously at GP Vanier Junior High School and brings a wealth of experience in literacy learning from a wide range of grade levels.
- Ms. Susan Ness is returning to Vincent Massey from Arbour Lake School. She is teaching Grade 8 Science, Math and Phys-Ed and we're delighted to welcome her enthusiasm and experience back to Vincent Massey.
- Mr. Nick Currie is teaching Grade 8 Humanities and Phys-Ed. He joins us from Crescent Heights High School and we're excited that he will be bringing his basketball coaching experience from high school to our teams here.
- Mr. Kaj Morawski is our new band teacher and will also be teaching Grade 7 Math and Science. Mr. Morawski's passion for the music has been evident from the moment he stepped in the door and I'm looking forward to the continued growth and rejuvenation of our bands.
I would like to welcome these new teachers and extend a huge thank you to all Vincent Massey teachers for their dedication every day. Teachers and their contact information are listed on our website under About Us --> Our Staff. Your child's classroom teacher should be the first point of contact for any concerns or questions regarding their learning.
It's been a busy week for staff and an exciting first two days with students in the building. Our Grade 7's benefited from having the building to themselves on Thursday. I enjoyed meeting many of them as they roamed the building, completing their scavenger hunt. With the Grade 8's and 9's joining us today, it was great to meet with everyone in our grade team assemblies. Ms. Springett and I acknowledged the land, framed our year together, and talked about how we want Vincent Massey to be a welcoming, safe and caring place for all to learn.
Part of my message to the students was the importance of respecting themselves, each other, and this place. The "golden rule" - treat others as we would wish to be treated – can be helpful but I talked about how we sometimes need to reframe this as treating others as they need to be treated. Approaching each other with grace and compassion is essential to our success as a large community of diverse cultures, backgrounds, and life experiences.
I hope you all have a wonderful long weekend and I'm looking forward to starting back on Tuesday. Our focus for the first full week will be establishing the regular routines that focus on student learning, which is our central purpose at Vincent Massey School.
We are just one week away from "back to school" and we hope that you had an enjoyable summer. Our office will be open on Monday, August 28, at 8:30am. We do experience a high volume of calls and emails at this time, so please be patient as we work to respond as soon as possible.
Information is available on the school website, including an archive of all messages sent home via SchoolMessenger. You can expect to receive a weekly message with news and updates from the school and these will be posted under "View All Stories" or "Principal's Message" on the main homepage.
Please expect a call next week from your child's teacher regarding homeroom placement. If you miss the call or voicemail, please don't worry – there will be lots of staff on hand to direct students on the first days of school. Any information visible on PowerSchool prior to August 31 is tentative and we may make adjustments through the first few days as we finalize our enrollment.
The school doors open at 8:50 each morning – students are not admitted to the building prior to this time unless they are taking part in an activity, such as sports team practices. Classes start at 9:10 and dismissal is at 3:44, except on Fridays when we dismiss at 12:42. The complete bell schedule is on the school website (About Us --> School Hours).
We will be having a staggered entry this year, to help our new students get oriented to the school:
Grade 7: Thursday, August 31 will be the first day of school for our Grade 7 students only. Students will be directed to the south gym at the start of the day (9:10). They will be introduced to their homeroom teachers, who will guide them through the day. Lunch will be provided for students. Burgers, all beef and vegetarian, will be the 2 options available. If your child has any dietary concerns or restrictions that these options do not support, please provide them with a lunch on this day. Dismissal will be at 3:44.
All Grades: All students will attend school on Friday, September 1st. Students will start in their homerooms and there will be grade 8 and grade 9 assemblies in the gym during the day. Dismissal will be at 12:42.
Each day, students should bring lunch and snacks as well as a reusable water bottle. Specific supplies for classes will be outlined in the first few days but all students will need a binder with lined paper and subject dividers, as well as pens and pencils.
We recognize that many of our students have their own cell phones and this offers peace of mind and convenience for many families. However, our central purpose is learning and devices are often a distraction, so we are an "Away for the Day" school. This means that student cell phones need to be kept in their lockers during the day. If you need to contact your child please call the main office. Student are also free to use their phones at lunchtime, outside of the building.
Our next update will be sent on September 1 and will include key calendar dates and sports team information for the month of September. You can mark your calendars now for our "meet the teacher" open house, which will be the evening of Thursday, September 21.
We're excited to welcome students next week and look forward to working with you over the coming school year. If you have any questions, please call the office or send us an email.
Principal, Vincent Massey School
I am both excited and honored to have been named the new principal of Vincent Massey School. I look forward to meeting all of you over the coming months and working together to ensure success for every student at our school.
I am currently the assistant principal at Lord Beaverbrook High School, prior to which I was the assistant principal of Wilma Hansen School (grades 5-9). Most of my career has been dedicated to working with junior high school students, having taught at four different CBE junior/middle schools. Returning to work with middle years learners is returning to my first and greatest passion as an educator.
I believe that quality education means providing a balanced program that celebrates and builds upon the diversity of students. For example, Indigenous ways of knowing tell us that individuals need balance across four domains: Spirit (Being), Heart (Belonging), Body (Doing), and Mind (Knowing). Supporting these domains through healthy relationships and rich programming will foster a sense of connectedness for all members of the school community. Vincent Massey School, with its tradition of academic excellence and strong extracurricular, fine arts, sports, and complementary offerings, is already a great place to learn. I look forward to joining your learning community and building on that tradition together.
Hopefully I will have opportunities to visit the school and meet some of you prior to the summer vacation. I know that you are in good hands with Mr. Glassford until my start date in August.
Have a wonderful summer!
David Pugh, Incoming Principal
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