The vision statement of Waapinishikush Elementary School is to become a beacon school for the Cree School Board, and once again this year we are really proud of our students’ successes. For the second year in a row, our annual attendance rate was above 80%.
We are also really proud to have a retention rate of 96% amongst our staff and the administrative team for the third year in a row. Stability is good for everybody, especially our students.
Safe School Policy
At the disciplinary level, suspensions went from 52 in 2014-2015 down to 32 in 2015-2016 (-38%). We want to thank our parents and students who are taking the time to speak to us and ask for support during conflicts and bullying. Being preventive is having a direct and positive impact on the school atmosphere, and we drastically reduced the violence in our school. Bullying is not something we deal with just at school. It happens at different places in the community, including on school buses. We sat down with the parents and found a solution together as a community. This year’s improvements would not have been possible without the participation of the Cree Health Board, the SNAP program from the Justice Department, and our Elders who took the time to come to our school and talk with our youth.
School Governance and Shared Leadership
The 2015-2016 year also marked an important shift in our leadership approach. Teachers were involved in Pedagogical Committees in reading, writing and math in all three languages to help find ways to improve our students’ services and results.
We also had a program for low-level English readers called Empower Reading that gave a huge boost to our students with high needs. Some of them went up by more than 10 reading levels for a single term compared to an average of one level per term for normal readers. That would not have been possible without the support for our parents, since attendance is mandatory to be included in that program.
The School Committee was also more active and present in our school this past year. We were inspired by a speech in August that sent a clear message on the community’s expectations towards our staff and the parents. We were happy to see the elected members of the Committee not just around the table during the meeting, but also at each of our Parents Nights doing surveys and keeping in touch with everybody.
Guaranteed and Viable Curriculum
The GVC has been implemented for four years. It wasn’t an easy process, but with the help of the Canadian Education Association (CEA), we made sure that we kept improving without forgetting who we are and where we are coming from.
As an example, almost all our English Grade 6 students are now able to achieve the highest level in the PM Benchmarks for reading (30).
In French, our strongest readers are currently achieving an average of 24 out of 30 levels. We still have work to do of course, but we are having a current progression of one level for each term over the last three years, which shows that we are on a positive track.
Our teachers were open to trying different strategies and approaches to improve our student success and optimize our services. In addition to our Focus Groups, we had teachers who shared groups and subjects, planned together, and prepared common assessments within their levels. We also had first cycle groups that were divided in different level classrooms in order to reduce the gap between the students and focus on specific needs. We also regrouped high-needs students and educators to give a more personalized approach and have a bigger impact on our students’ learning and social needs. The results were really impressive.