ᕛᔨᒐᕐ ᑳ ᐃᔥᐹᒡ ᒋᔅᑯᑕᒫᒉᐅᑲᒥᒄ
During the past school year, Voyageur Memorial Elementary School (VMS) underwent an enormous improvement in school climate. Staff and management started working together in a very collaborative and cohesive manner. Having many old and unpractical procedures, we rebuilt a better code of conduct, revisited our LSIP, and started developing anti-bullying procedures. Also, the school has put a lot of effort into involving the educational community in its activities through committees such as the Bridges and Chimshoom & Googum programs. Finally, this year, both staff from VMS-K and VMS-elementary have joined efforts to help facilitate a smooth and efficient transition from one school to the other. All these efforts are aligned with our school vision, which is to “foster a positive, challenging, nurturing environment filled with opportunities where our students realize their full potential for success.”
School Governance and Shared Leadership
Shared leadership and collaborative leadership are key factors in VMS Elementary’s success. Teachers and staff set up structures and took responsibility for ensuring that programs (such as Success for All and GB+) were well managed.
Management shared with the staff the data collected from walkthroughs. Based on the data, the Leadership Team decided to focus its efforts on social skills, in order to increase time spent on learning.
The Parent Committee was regularly consulted on all important matters. They actively supported all changes and school activities that took place.
Local School Improvement Plan
We revisited our school’s LSIP, as teachers did not fully understand it. The first priority was an emphasis on literacy through programs such as Success for All (SFA) and GB+, and a closer monitoring of the GVC. In order to attain our goals, strategies and activities were put in place, such as the “Dictée PGL” for the French sector, the “jogging math routine”, and the implementation of formal exam practices.
Also, the SFA consultants were invited, and worked with teachers and management to help improve the understanding of the program. We held two book fair days to increase reading skills and interest. Cree language teachers received specific training, which was a great help. SFA results, on the other hand, show a global increase.
Guaranteed and Viable Curriculum
Walkthroughs showed that teachers were using the GVC as reference material to strive to maintain the prescribed progress chart. The GVC was discussed in team meetings. Consultants for the school board came to help implement the GVC and offered support all year long.
Attendance reports were done on a daily basis and calls home were made. There were constant follow-ups with at-risk students. We tried to do interesting activities at school to develop a sense of belonging in our students, such as morning jogging, after-lunch basketball, and attendance prizes. During student assemblies, we emphasized the importance of attendance.
Safe School Policy
Throughout the year, the school team of VMS elementary developed a new code of conduct. A notable change was the implementation of school-wide pro-social consequences.
We also started using electronic memos through SPI, which provided a faster and more coherent approach to referrals, as well as a better follow-up on at-risk students.
Finally, we reorganised the roles and mandates of the school guidance team members to give them a more systemic and efficient approach. This allowed us to start developing prevention techniques that are beneficial school-wide.
Many strategies and activities were successfully implemented, such as the morning jogging club, the walk to school day, after lunch basketball, blueberry picking, and outdoor snow sliding. Prior years’ activities were also repeated, such as the many calendar celebrations (e.g., Christmas, Valentine’s Day), the end-of-year graduation ceremony, student assemblies, the good behaviour ticket system, after school activities, and mainly for third cycle, there were bed-ins, and celebrations for students with good behaviour and high attendance.
Two new sabtuans were built on the school grounds and were used for Cree culture classes. We maintained our local and regional science fair participation (note that we held it for all cycles). Also, we added new prizes that underline effort and creativity for the science fair.
With the financial support of New Paths for Education, we were able to offer many workshops to parents on how to help their children academically. Indeed, at VMS-elementary, we made a great place for community involvement by creating and investing in the new “Bridge” committee which offered workshops to the School Committee to better understand the role of the parents in students’ success, and strategies and tools they can use to help.
We also recreated the Chimshoom & Googum committee, which was invited at different times to discuss and revitalize Cree cultural heritage.
Annie Whiskeychan Day was organized by teachers of VMS elementary, which demonstrated what we can accomplish by working together. Parents and teachers from both schools were involved in this very important day, and the elders contributed by holding all of the cultural workshops. It was a great success.