Guardian Column

Learning must continue

 

In the past year, I have witnessed or taken part in many conversations about education and schooling in Prince Edward Island- from one end of the island to the other. These conversations sent a strong and clear message that the education of our young people is a No. 1 priority for Islanders.

Even during times of change, it is critical that childrens’ learning continues to be the primary focus of all the players in our education system.

In recognition of the excellent work of students, the P.E.I. Home and School Federation awards prizes in two provincial fairs. This years’ winners of the  Family Heritage Fair Prize  at the P.E.I. Heritage Fair are: “Yeo Shipbuilders” by Will Yeo (L.M. Montgomery Elementary, grade 5) and “The Outlaws in my Lineage” by Nicolas Dickieson (Immanuel Christian School, grade 7).

The "meat" is in resolutions: P.E.I. Home and School Federation holds AGM

On April 8th, 120 delegates and guests attended the 2017 Annual General Meeting of the P.E.I. Home and School Federation.

Discussions focused on how all partners in education can work together to ensure an equitable education for all Island students. The agenda included presentations on flexible learning, school food, and citizen engagement, and featured a demonstration of a collaborative workshop facilitated by our Dr. Helen MacDonald Scholars. The results of the workshop have been posted on our website.

Resolutions cover range of topics: Participants discuss issues such as equity, school food programs and flexible learning

“The teacher is of course an artist, but being an artist does not mean that he or she can make the profile, can shape the students. What the educator does in teaching is to make it possible for the students to become themselves.”  ~ Paulo Friere

Education plays a key role in determining your life chances and a better education means better health, higher earnings and a longer life.

Making education equitable means ensuring that everyone has access to the resources, opportunities, power and responsibility they need to reach their full potential. It also means making changes so that unfair differences may be understood and addressed.

Discussion before decision-making

Local discussion of proposed provincial policy resolutions is one of the most important activities that home and school associations go through each year.  These resolutions on issues of broad provincial importance are the way that the parents, guardians, teachers, administrators and staff of home and school can speak with a collective voice and have a direct impact on education policy.

 

Resolutions will be voted on by delegates from each school at the P.E.I. Home and School Federation annual meeting on April 8. Before that can happen, however, the resolutions must be discussed at home and school meetings in each school and a local vote taken on each one to guide the school’s delegates in their voting. 

 

Remember to say thank you: Teacher/Staff Appreciation Week will be celebrated Feb. 13-17

“In the new teacher she found another true and helpful friend. Miss Stacy was a bright, sympathetic young woman with the happy gift of winning and holding the affections of her pupils and bringing out the best that was in them mentally and morally. Anne expanded like a flower under this wholesome influence.” 

 

Research has shown that students who feel liked and supported by their teachers do better in school. High quality student-teacher relationships have been shown to reduce disruptive behavior, improve the ability of students to respond to stress, and increase student engagement in the classroom. A strong student-teacher relationship is also correlated with higher achievement in math, improved problem solving speed and early language acquisition. The student’s perception of “connection” to their teacher has been shown to be the single most important school-based predictor of academic growth in mathematics.

 

Time for reflection: January is a good time to reaffirm belief in potential of children

Even if you are not one to make New Years’ resolutions, January is a good time to reflect on your situation and set your intentions for the year to come. Research in neuroscience over the past decades has shown us that the human brain is more capable of change than we ever thought possible, even into adulthood.  How we use our brains every day shapes and molds them, so practicing new behaviours and new habits patiently over time really can change the way the brain is wired. The new year is a good time to consider the power of new beginnings and to reaffirm our belief in the potential of our children, to change, learn and grow.

 

Islanders invited to raise issues through resolution process

At the September Board meeting of the Provincial Home and School Federation, we held a group discussion around the questions “What do we mean by academic achievement?” and “What is it about grade 12 education that is important to parents?”

 

Our Board Members described a school system that produces well-rounded and engaged citizens who have interpersonal skills and the ability to do whatever they want to do in the future. They envisioned inclusive environments that offer different and interesting learning trajectories for different students- not a “cookie cutter” approach. They believe that success is different for every child and that the education system should “foster their passions.”

 

School communities have opportunity to provide input for change

A second set of public meetings around the review of schools is taking place over the next week. These meetings are intended to give school communities an opportunity to provide input on options for change. Input can also be submitted online or through small group presentations. Details can be found on the Department’s Better Learning for All webpage. Although change has been a constant in Island schools over the past few decades, somehow, the change that is in the air right now seems larger and filled with more interesting possibilities.

 

Collaboration important consideration in federation

Collaboration is based on the assumption that the process of sharing diverse ideas in respectful discussion will result in more creative solutions and deeper understandings.

Collaboration is the opposite of competition. It is never a one-person show and to be successful, it requires members of a group to support each other and recognize the value of each individual voice.

The first five purposes and objectives of the PEI Home and School Federation are listed in our bylaws as follows:

- To provide an independent organization of citizens concerned with the establishment, encouragement and development of the highest standards in public education in Prince Edward Island;

- To provide members of the public with an understanding of the administration and the content of the various programs of the school system and to provide a meaningful voice in decisions affecting children; at each school level within the school system;

Fall programs focus on variety of topics: Learn about scholarships, school lunch programs, semi-annual meeting and leadership training

Each new leader of a successful organization has the benefit of standing on the shoulders of those who have come before them. This fall, we have established the Dr. Helen MacDonald Collaboration and Facilitation Scholarship in honour of the first president of the PEI Home and School Federation.

In recognition of her focus on bringing people together to “obtain the best for each child in Prince Edward Island” we are offering support to a new generation of leaders who will continue her work of bringing parents, guardians, teachers administrators and staff to the education table.

The scholarship covers the full tuition costs for candidates to obtain a Collaborative Leadership and Facilitation Certificate from the University of Prince Edward Island. For more information see http://peihsf.ca/scholarship.

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