Sunday, 22 June 2014

Year's end - don't cry because its over


I thought this quote was a good way to start an end of year post.  I'm not sure how many people are crying, everyone needs a break after a long, busy school year.  The end of the year is a good time to look back on the year and spend a little time reflecting on how things went.  In my case, I will be reflecting on the past three years as I get ready for the move to another school.

One of the things I love to hear about our school is that it is a busy place.  There is always something going on.

I think this says alot about our entire school community.  Collectively, we aspire to offer a complete education for our students.  It is never enough to teach the curriculum, we need to teach the whole child.

I think this is a shared vision for our school.  It encourages us to look for new partners that enrich the learning environment for our students.  Here are just a few we have become linked to in the past few years.


  • Evergreen, the City of Ottawa and TD Friends of the Environment - these three partners have helped us build what will be a little urban forest in the years to come.  Over twenty trees, raised beds and now two outdoor classrooms are the results of this partnership.  At the heart of all this are the children; our Evergreen partners Ann Coffey and Andrew Harvey have consulted with all our students throughout the greening process here at our school - this will be the students' urban forest.
  • Becoming a digital school - not sure of another way to put this, but our teachers, students and parents have all embraced the idea that students learn better when they have a variety of devices from home, school and the district to use every day.  Over the past three years we have seen a real transformation in the learning environment not so much because we have lots of devices but because innovation is accepted as the norm at our school.
  • Partnerships with arts groups - an elementary school on its own cannot offer the varied programming students need to have a well rounded education.  We have Little Horn Theatre and Big Kid Entertainment to help us offer a varied arts curriculum.  Big Kid integrates drama with important lessons on cyber bullying and inclusion in a way the students really enjoy.  Little Horn offers instruction in dance and drama to every child in the school.
  • Partnerships focusing on athletic development - this is so important for us.  We need our kids to remain  physically active throughout the year.  In fact, it could be argued that our kids would do better with year round schooling to make sure they remain active throughout the summer months. Jungle Sport, the Ottawa Fury, Y Kids Academy and Starr Gymnastics are just some of the programs that we now offer every year.  Starr Gymnastics is so important to the school that we will now pay for this right out of the student activity fee.
We have so many other important partners, St. Maurice Church, the University of Ottawa, Engineers in Residence all enrich the lives of our students throughout the school year, they are part of the fabric of our school life.  

There are two essential elements that make all these creative partnerships work.  

First, we have a staff that welcomes everyone.  Visitors to our school always comment on how friendly people are at our school.  All staff try hard to make people comfortable when they are with us.  This is how it should be. We are caught up in the joy of education and we want to share this with others.

The second essential element are our parents.  They support us in so many ways.  They are open to our ideas and projects, they make us part of their community.  As principal, I have felt nothing but unconditional support and appreciation for the work we do with their kids every day.

This is why St. Greg's is a busy place.  Our staff, parents and students have great ideas and are always open to the education adventure.  It is hard work, but look what we have all created!

While I am looking forward to my new school community, I will never forget the dynamic partnerships of the St. Gregory community that provide such a rich learning environment for all of us.

Have a great summer everyone!

One of the outdoor murals created by Ann Coffey, Nicole Belanger and our students
                                             

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