Building School Community in our Bigger Community…

April 19, 2017

Last night our BelPark School Council had the opportunity to hold our meeting at our designated High School. The principal, Jana Macdonald, joined us, gave us a short tour, and shared with us an understanding of what Bowness High School was all about, which I would sum up as a focus on students and building community. We also had Steven Klukas, Principal of Thomas B. Riley School and some of his staff join us as we have been delving into Mathematics learning this year, and wanted an understanding of what mathematics instruction would look like as kids moved on into grade 7 and into High School down the road.

I was quite unsure about how this would work and what the impact would be, but we took the risk… Jana spoke to building community with High School learners, and how respect went both ways. Steven spoke to a focus on the learner and finding ways to meet their needs and help students learn to think, rather than just copy and repeat. Parents asked questions and frank discussions were had about learning and issues around cell phones, online interactions, and drug issues.

After Steven and Jana had left, many of our parents engaged with me about how they found the evening fantastic and so beneficial for their understanding of the next schools their children would attend. Many shared how this dropped their anxiety and has them excited about their children moving on to TB Riley and Bowness HS. Last night went beyond any possible expectations, and benefitted students, parents, and all of our schools within the community of Bowness.

We also shared our strategy that all of the Principals for schools in Bowness get together in an informal group and meet to work together around issues that impact all of our schools. I knew the work was going in the right direction, but how often do elementary schools get to collaborate with a 7-9 school or a 10-12 school.

Next steps: Our School Council and our staff are already scheming and dreaming about how we can connect:

  • We already have HS mentors come work with our students once per week (Awesome!)
  • With the Foods department around healthy snacks and using the kitchens to look at healthy food and snack creation
  • With the construction departments around supporting our students in building and making
  • Our Out of School Care program is thinking of how we get kids connected to TB Riley and Bowness High School

I love seeing the connections we are making. Definitely connect with your community schools!
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