ᐧᐄᓂᐯᑰ ᒋᔅᑯᑕᒫᒉᐅᑲᒥᒄ - ᐋᓃ ᐧᐄᔥᑲᒑᓐ ᒋᔅᑯᑕᒫᒉᐅᑲᒥᒄ
The 2015-2016 school year was one of challenges and adjustments, preparing us in many ways for starting 2016-2017 with more efficient and solid structures. We introduced our vision and mission in our written documents, posted them in both schools, and read them at different meetings. It was important to further highlight these statements for encouraging collaborative work in the best interest of our students.
Our vision is “Learn Now, Build a Nation.”
Our mission is: “A school inspired by Cree values dedicated to the academic achievement of our students in a safe, harmonious and welcoming atmosphere based on mutual respect. This could be accomplished in a healthy climate of trust and cooperation to enable them to become positive members of society.”
School Governance and Shared Leadership
Along with the beginning of the school year came a newly elected Parents Committee. The members demonstrated their support by attending meetings, discussing some challenges in our schools and supporting the process of hiring new teachers. The Leadership Team also welcomed new members. I, as a new principal, and our LT members had to revisit our role as a Team, establish priorities in our schools, and work on the LSIP. Not only did our teachers work in Professional Learning Communities, they also participated in various trainings, some of them given by our own teachers. Educators had the opportunity to follow a PECS training (Picture Exchange Communication System) for special needs students. Different activities were organized in collaboration with the Cree Justice Department: Alternative Suspension Program, SNAP, Challenge Day, Diamond Girls, Me-to-We Summer Camp. We also collaborated with Youth Fusion, Science Travels, elders (visits in EWS), the Waskaganish Women’s Association and Frontier College (Summer Camp Literacy). We also worked on a regular basis with the Cree Health Board. To increase our collaboration within the community and share our challenges, we made a presentation at a Band Council meeting that was well received.
Homeroom teachers (Elementary and Secondary I, II and II) evaluate the reading levels of their students three times each year. We asked teachers to examine these results in their Professional Learning Communities, to determine how to best meet the needs of their students and improve their strategies. The English sector benefited from the introduction of the Empower Reading Program (elementary and secondary); the results are really encouraging. Jolly Phonics began to be used in Grades 1 and 2, with some success. In the French sector, different workshops were given: Forêt de l’alphabet, Neurolinguistic Approach, Explicit Teaching, Vocabulary's Appropriation. The Cree language teachers also met in PLCs to discuss their own challenges.
Our Math and Science Team at the secondary sector worked together to put in place plans that will lead to more efficiency for the next school year. We also administered the mid-year assessments and studied our results. In addition, we were fortunate to have tutoring provided by Elephant Thoughts for our Secondary IV and V students in an effort to increase success in our MEES exams. Besides Elephant Thoughts, we hired tutors who supported students for part of the school year. Finally, we made sure that preparation for the CAT tests was done.
Guaranteed and Viable Curriculum
Teachers made efforts to follow the GVC. Unfortunately, we are facing learning gaps that require much scaffolding, but we are looking for new ways to meet the needs of our struggling students. The challenges are huge, in many ways. In the future, working in real collaboration, addressing the challenges, understanding the data, and using more research- based strategies will lead to better implementation of the GVC.
Professional Learning Communities
PLCs always follow the SIS process and topics are usually oriented on student achievement. Most of PLCs worked on SMART goals related to reading. Some adjustments, explanations and follow-up need to be done to improve the PLCs work and its efficiency. Most of the teams met by language of instruction, except for math and science at the secondary level and physical education, in order to better support the GVC.
Our parental engagement committee hosted an assembly where we distributed our parental handbook. Some Cree guests were invited to talk about the importance of education. We also held Open Doors.
We did not significantly reduce our student absences. We tried to motivate students by giving monthly awards, posting positive comments on Facebook, and holding different activities such as book fairs, the Fall Festival, the Christmas Concert, science fairs, speaking contests, summer games, Annie Whiskeychan Day, the Terry Fox Walk, the First Snow Shoe Walk, breakfast clubs, and graduations (kindergarten, Grade 6 and Secondary V), and creating a School Spirit Committee.
Elders were asked to speak to students about respect for others. We also used a student disciplinary system to help maintain a safe and secure environment in our schools. We intervened personally with students, and also in the classrooms. The SNAP, offered by the Cree Justice Department, also provided support.