Guardian Column

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;

Annual Meeting April 9: Proposed provincial policy resolutions give parents, educators an opportunity to make an impact

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 PEI Home and School Federation Annual Meeting on April 9. Before that can happen, however, the resolutions must be discussed at meetings in each school, and a local vote taken on each one, to guide the school’s delegates in their voting.  This year there will be 5 resolutions to discuss.

Annual awards recognize valuable contributions

It is the beginning of awards season not only in Hollywood, but also at the P.E.I. Home and School Federation as January is the first in a series of deadlines for nominations for the provincial awards that the federation uses to recognize excellence in public education.

The Extra Mile Award recognizes teachers and staff who exemplify going the extra mile, going above and beyond the call of duty to support the total well-being of the Island’s youth.  Two awards are given annually, one in the east and one in the west (last year Kate MacSwain at Souris Regional and Barbie MacQuarrie at Spring Park Elementary were recognized).  The deadline for nominations for the Extra Mile award is January 15; nomination forms and criteria are online at peihsf.ca/extramile. The awards are presented during Teacher-Staff Appreciation Week in February.

Making a commitment: There are plenty of ways for parents, guardians, teachers, administrators, staff to get involved

With the changes to education governance announced by Premier MacLauchlan and Hon. Hal Perry, Minister of Education, on November 5, 2015, home and school members – parents, guardians, teachers, administrators and staff at schools across the province – have new opportunities for engagement with and influence over the conduct of public education. It is both an exciting time, and one which will require new levels of commitment to the values that home and school has always held dear.

The most immediate action required by home and schools is the selection of a representative to the new Family of Schools District Advisory Councils.

Productive discussions at semi-annual association meeting

Forty-eight members of home and school associations from across the province, along with 18 guests from the Department of Education, Early Learning and Culture, the English Language School Board, education sector unions and others gathered at Three Oaks Senior High School on October 20, 2015 for the Semi-Annual Meeting of the PEI Home and School Federation.

Make the most of the annual meet-the-staff night

In the weeks to come, as we begin this new school year, the yearly “meet the staff” night will be held at each school across the province.  “Meet the staff,” though, is a misnomer, for these events are as much an opportunity for staff to meet families as they are for families to meet staff. If home and school is, at its core, about the ongoing conversation among parents, guardians, teachers, administrators and staff, then these meetings are an important start to that conversation, an opportunity for setting the scene for a year of engagement.

In this spirit, all members of the school community are encouraged to rethink “meet the staff” night and to create opportunities, beyond “everyone gathers in the gym to hear about when the bells ring” toward building the relationships upon which successful home and school partnerships are built.

When all of the partners in public education work together, great things are possible...

The following opinion piece appeared in The Guardian newspaper on June 26, 2015.

If I have learned anything in my 8 years of involvement with Home & School, it’s that public education is a complicated system with many moving parts: issues that appear simple – “let’s extend the school day by 30 minutes,” for example – are, in truth, a complex thicket of issues ranging from bus routes to union agreements to after-school childcare to the provincial budget.

What gives me great hope is that when all of the partners in public education – parents, guardians, teachers, administrators, unions, boards, department – work together, great things are possible.

Retirees honoured for their service

This month will see the retirement of many employees that Home and School members have had in their daily lives for many years: 43 teachers, 10 cleaners and custodians, 9 bus drivers, 9 educational assistants and youth service workers, 7 administrative assistants, and 2 board office staff from the English Language School Board.  All were honoured with a dinner in late May hosted by the board. 

Home and School associations are encouraged to ask their school administrators for the names of staff retiring from their school and to recognize these retirements locally. Recognition at graduation or school closing events, a card and gift, or a collection of notes of appreciation from students are among the ways to recognize retiring staff. 

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