Since my last entry a month ago, so much has happened! We had parent teacher night which I missed as I was away attending a fantastic FNESC (First Nations Education Steering Committee) conference. Some of many highlights over the past month:
• We held a series of activities and initiatives at school to recognize NAAW (National Alcohol Awareness) week.
• Late last week school and grad photos were taken which added an element of extra excitement to the students. Kids looked especially spiffy!
• Staff held a full afternoon meeting so students went home early on the 28th.
• A group of students went out for a few days on a hunting trip and a community luncheon was hosted at the Elders lodge to feast on the venison.
• Currently the Sr. boys basketball team is away at a tournament in Vancouver.
• The admin team attended a school board meeting where the administrators presented our monthly reports.
• On Friday, we held an important meeting on an initiative that will positively impact early learning.
• A meeting was held to help put the Jan 30th Career Fair plans into action.
• I conducted several new teacher observations and many more classroom walkthroughs.
• I observed children walking to the community hall for PE while our school gym undergoes required renovations.
• I am sure I have missed many more events and activities, but in all, it has been a very hectic and exciting time at the Bella Bella Community School.
The path to graduation is a lengthy and demanding journey and may be best expressed in a selection from The Road Not taken by Robert Frost.
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.
Our grads are heading down the path where semester 1 is drawing to an end and for some, new courses begin. Grads realize that it is necessary to do some additional homework during the holiday season in order to achieve success in their courses. It’s a pleasure to see them working hard as I do my school walkthroughs. Many of our grads are taking challenging courses such as Chem 11, EFP 12, and Math 12. Challenging coursework requires daily homework in order to be successful so we encourage grads to take some time over the holiday season to do some work. Along with working hard on coursework, grads are working hard on fundraising initiaitves for grad. Several grads are also working with the counselor and grad coordinator on post-secondary plans for their post secondary education.
National Alcohol Awareness Week engaged students with several events. Students in several classes but in particular, Humanities 8 and 9 embarked on a study of a highly regarded curriculum called iminds which was developed by the Centre for Addictions Research of BC. One highlight is the study of a series of short stories in a book called Lunch with Lenin.
Students are responding with curiosity and interest to the highly engaging imind curricula which addresses PLOs for English Language Arts and Health and Career Education.
Students examine the factors that influence the way they think, feel and behave. They also learn about and discuss ways to address problems related to health and drug use that may arise in themselves, their families or their community.
Read about Debra Ellis, the author.
Students from grade 6 -12 engaged in a conversation café for an afternoon in order to raise the awareness of the impact of underage drinking. Youth workers and school counselors organized this event as part of our mandate to raise awareness of the factors associated with early and over drinking. The event culminated with a walk through the village as part of the week’s events.
Our dedicated staff works hard to make a difference for everyone in the building. They have been very generously contributing to a food hamper, which has been picked up twice over the past month. They also contributed towards a community luncheon that was very well-attended and this at a time when they are busy rehearsing for the annual Christmas concert and the Christmas craft night. Our dedicated staff makes a difference to children and to the school in its entirety.
Our monthly staff meetings include a 50-50 loonie draw where half of the pot is donated to a community initiative and the other half goes to a lucky staff member. This helps to add levity to the afternoon as we delve into topics that address the needs of the professional community and student learning. One highlight was a short presentation by Rory Housty on the village with photos of the village as it was in the early to mid 1900s.
Our intention is to include cultural awareness as part of each staff meeting. Fran Brown provided a total body response lesson in Heiltsuk which allowed teachers to experience what children engage with when they go off to Heiltsuk language class. I personally have a long ways to go with the language! My intentions are good. Building language learning into my schedule is another challenge.
Several students went deer hunting with Rob Lansdowne, Jeff Windsor, Carl Humchitt, and Howard Humchitt. They came back successful and apparently endured the worse possible cold and wet conditions without one complaint! The luncheon which they held in the elder’s lodge was fantastic! Traditional skills are important to maintain and community members are the only ones who can provide this for the youth. Kudos to those students and to the community members who organized this for the students.
The gym is undergoing renovations and students are taking their PE classes in the community hall. We appreciate the patience of staff and students. The Christmas concert will be held in the hall this year so logistically this will add an element of challenge but we expect it to go off without a hitch☺
I have the privilege of observing classroom teaching and learning on my walkthroughs and have seen evidence of some fantastic learning strategies intended to move students along with literacy and numeracy. More formal observations have taken place recently and will continue into the new year as stipulated by the teacher contract. I learn more about teaching and learning when I visit classrooms and have an opportunity to talk with teachers about their practice. The admin team (Fred and Jan) at BBCS is undergoing an evaluation process that will take us into Spring. It has been an engaging and enlightening process and one that I appreciate as we consider ways to provide the kind of leadership that can move the school closer to the mission statement:
Our mission is to develop in a just , caring, and respectful environment, students who are independent and lifelong learners, incorporating our community traditions and culture with the acquisition of skills needed to succeed in both the traditional and modern world.
I attended the FNESC conference and was overwhelmed with a couple of sessions that I attended. The first was the keynote address by Justice Murray Sinclair. a simple, yet poignant statement remains with me and it is this: The day I became a swan, I realized I belonged to a great nation. I urge you to consider this on a personal level and take time to listen to his important message in the link provided above. The presenter who never fails to give me something to think about is my dear old friend David Rattray. His session on Trauma and the Brain: Implications for Learning/Not Learning is a topic that merits further consideration and one that will be addressed in the new year. Finally, I listened attentively to a presentation by Teresa Campbell and she posed two questions which are important considerations for any school who is attempting to address bullying: With regard to school climate, what is driving the relationships of the adults in the building? Secondly, she states something that many already know: Every kid needs to be connected to at least one or two adults in the building.
The Sr. boys basketball team are on their way home as I write. Unofficially I heard that they did well at the tournament in the lower mainland. To attend a tournament takes a lot of planning and fundraising as we are so far from our nearest competition. It’ll be nice to see them back in school for the remaining two weeks before we break for the holiday season.
Greetings to all and to all, a restful holiday!