Spring is the Season of Growth at RMB

Families,

Spring is certainly in the air and we have had a sprinkling of summer and even a touch of winter weather mixed in as well.  Teachers will soon begin the important task of administering the post assessments for Literacy and Numeracy.  We can hardly wait to see all the growth that each individual student has experienced this year at RMB.

We are beginning the process of determining class placements for next year along with staffing.  As our process was last year, we will not be sharing classroom placements until the Fall.  The reason behind this decision is that things can easily change over the summer months (increased enrollment, staff changes, etc) and we will have a much better picture in August regarding plans for classroom placements.  Please understand that one question that comes to the office at the beginning (and end) of each school year is how we determine which class students will be in.  The first thing parents need to know is this is a carefully considered process.  There are a number of factors that go into this decision including the number of students in each grade, trying to get a balance of gender and abilities, and maintaining some social supports for each student.  In the end, the most important consideration is what is in the best academic interest of all of our over 400 students.

The reality for many of our students is they will be in a split-grade classroom at some point during their academic careers, often more than once.  Considering the diverse needs and abilities of students, no class is a “straight” grade.  Our teachers will use a variety of strategies to best meet the individual needs of their students, which would include flexible groupings within and beyond their regular classrooms.  Being in a lower split does not mean that students are lower in their ability, the same way a  higher-grade split is not comprised of the highest achieving students.  Each classroom needs a heterogeneous balance.

Finally, students cannot be grouped solely based on where their friends are or whether they will have the favourite teacher they have always wanted.  We do pay attention to social supports, but working in the same classroom with your best friend(s) is not always the best thing from an academic point of view.  While each teacher has their own strengths that may be somewhat different from their colleagues, all have incredible talents to share in a challenging, rewarding, learning environment.

On very rare occasions, changes may be made if it is determined to be in the best academic interests of a particular child.  The final decision rests with the Principal in consultation with the staff.  We appreciate your understanding and support regarding this matter.

At this time I would like to inform you that I will be leaving Ruth M. Buck as Principal at the end of June as I have been offered, and have accepted, a position at Division Office.  I will continue to support students in my new role as Supervisor of Intensive Supports starting August 1st.  Although it will be difficult for me to say good bye to the students, staff and community at RMB, I know you will be in very good hands with the incoming Principal, Mr. Blair Litzenberger.  Mr. Litzenberger comes to the Buck community with a wealth of administrative experience which is student centered.  He is a former Buck student himself and is thrilled to be returning to his childhood roots in this role.  I know that together with Mr. Pelling, the school will be under great care and attention for the upcoming school year.

Teaching and Educational Assistant staffing changes will be shared with students and the community once finalized.  This typically occurs mid-June.

Please continue to spread the word to other families about signing up for my blog so that they can stay in touch with the latest school news.  Our school website and twitter feed (@ruthmbuckschool) will continue to be great sources of information as well.

Mrs. A. Balkwill

Principal

Kindness Doesn’t Have A Due Date

RMB Families,

This week will we will conclude our Crazy for Kindness fundraiser.  Our students have done an outstanding job of completing random acts of kindness (RAoK) as a way to pay forward pledges they received from family and friends.  Helping out around home (without being asked!), sending notes of gratitude, baking for a neighbour, inviting others to join in a group, donating to a local charity, holding the door open for the person behind, greeting guests in the school with eye contact and a smile, and the list goes on.  The students at RMB took this challenge head on and the results have been outstanding!  We are so proud of all of their efforts.  However, we know that the kindness will not end simply because our fundraiser wraps up this Thursday.  We know our students will continue to model the importance of being a positive and contributing member of our community and beyond. #creatingtomorrowtogether

Kindness doesn’t cost a thing.

On January 27th, we will be taking time as a school to engage in Family Literacy Day.  This is celebrated internationally as a day to really focus on the importance of Literacy in the lives of all, with the emphasis on the impact family engagement can have on the Literacy success and achievement of students.  Our staff leadership is evident once again through our united commitment to our school and division priorities around Literacy achievement for all.  The Literacy Council at RMB has created a fun activity and they encourage all families to participate in the Family Literacy BINGO.  BINGO cards will be sent home with all students early this week.  We hope you enjoy these great ideas as a way to make Literacy a family activity in your home.

family lit

Sincerely,

Mrs. A. Balkwill, Principal

Sharing the Gift of Literacy

Yesterday as I was visiting a classroom, a student was bubbling with excitement as she was about to read out loud to her teacher.  She quickly gave me a hug and then hurried off to the table where her teacher was awaiting her arrival.  Upon sitting down, the student looked at her teacher and exclaimed, “I love to read and so does my mom.”  Now, you may wonder why this comment is worthy of including in this blog, but let me tell you, this is a big deal.  I have no doubt that the love for reading that is taking place in this home has fostered such a positive attitude towards reading (and learning to read) at school.  Here we have a student who identifies their parent as a reader, their teachers as readers, their Principal and Vice-Principal as readers, and most importantly, themselves as a reader. She is surrounded with the gift of a love for literacy and this gift will redeem itself every day and in every way … forever.  I left the classroom asking myself, “do my own children see me as someone who loves to read?”.  I know my students do, as well as my colleagues and friends, but what about my own three children?  What occurs in a home for a child to identify their parent as not just a reader, but someone who loves to read? I know this question still lingers with me personally, and I encourage you to take a moment to think how your child(ren) would describe your relationship with literacy.

This month, the Educators at RMB wanted to share some of their favourite holiday stories with our students and families.  Under the leadership of our Literacy Council, staff have created a video series for everyone to enjoy. Below are a few of the videos created so far, and more will be added soon!  Be sure to check them out.

RMB Staff Read Holiday Favourites:

Mrs. Swann

Mrs. Papp

Ms. Goode

From our school family to yours, we wish you the warmest of holidays greetings!

Mrs. Balkwill, Principal

Beyond the 15 Minute Conference

Dear Families,

Thank you to all of our families that were able to attend conferences last week and to those who are scheduled to attend conferences this week as well.  As a parent of three school aged children who, up until this past year, attended three different schools, I know the commitment it takes to attend school conferences.  It is so much more than 15 minutes out of your day. For some it may be taking an extended lunch at 2:00 PM.  For others it may mean having someone watch over younger children who are nestled in for their morning nap at home and you don’t dare disrupt their sleep schedule.  Whatever the challenge, and we know there are many, we want to thank you for showing up.  Showing up is far greater than arriving on time for the conference.  Showing up is a way of letting your child(ren) know that you are interested in the goals they have set for themselves.  Showing up is a statement of your partnership with with Educators at RMB.  Showing up is an opportunity to interact with other families.  Showing up allows you to witness the learning that occurs throughout our school.

Conferences are also an opportunity for our Educators to show up as well.  If we only focused on the 15 minutes, we would lose sight of the many ways the staff show up as well.  From scheduling families to ensure little to no wait time, to accommodating reasonable requests for rescheduling, to supporting students to create goals that are meaningful and growth oriented, and to providing information that supports the unique learning needs of each student.

As parents and Educators, we are partners that choose to show up on conference day and beyond.  Our actions tell our students and your children that we value education, we support the belief that each child will experience success, and that we are a team.

So, thank you for showing up.  Conference Day is so much more than 15 minutes because of our united commitment to education at RMB!

Mrs. Balkwill, Principal

Oh and ps, if you missed your conference time, don’t worry!  Simple contact the office and we will be happy to assist in scheduling a new time.

showing up

Of Loss and Leadership

Every Sunday I sit down to prepare an internal newsletter for the Educators at RMB.  It provides the typical “school” reminders and a list of upcoming events for the week.  This year I wanted to focus on the purpose to be beyond the day-to-day functions of a school.  To align with our school division priority of Writing, I set an intention to write to my staff at the beginning of each weekly communication.  Often my writing reflects my observations from the week:  student and staff celebrations, community engagement and involvement, struggles and challenges, and personal reflection.  I initially set this intention to model how adults use purposeful writing within their workplace and beyond.  My writing takes time, several drafts, and on some weeks, a great deal of perseverance.  It is far from perfect, but that was never my intention, so I give myself a break knowing what the ultimate goal was.  Yes, was.

Last week, due to a heart breaking situation for one of our colleagues, the goal changed.  It changed from being something I felt I needed to do as a Principal, to something I needed to do for me.  As I sat down to write to the staff, all of the emotions from the week appeared on the screen through my words.  From sadness to gratitude, it was all there.  Each word was a personal reflection, and I mean REAL personal, on how our staff came together through a difficult time.  How each Educator took their compassionate leadership to a new height, respected one another’s grief, acknowledged and actualized a response plan in an efficient and nurturing manner, supported students with dignity, and gave themselves permission to be true to their emotions knowing that they would be supported by their colleagues without judgement.

What occurred was not luck or coincidence.  It was the result of a group of people making a commitment, with intent and purpose, to follow through with integrity.  These are the Educators at RMB.  These leaders model every day for your children what caring, compassionate and professional relationships look and sound like.

I don’t know about you, but I feel incredibly proud to know that these are the Educators who are teaching our students every day!

Mrs. Balkwill

This is Me at RMB Video Debut

This year the staff and students made a commitment to ensure that all students feel valued and respected for the individuals that they are.  In an effort to make this commitment in true RMB spirit, over 250 students came together to create, direct, perform, edit, film and choreograph a video entitled, This is Me at RMB.

After a month of preparations, the final video is now ready to share!  We hope you enjoy!

 

This Is Me at RMB

At the start of the school year, the Educators at RMB made a commitment to support and value each student for their individuality.  We wanted to ensure that students truly felt that they belonged.  One way we decided to do this was to create a student video using the emotional and touching lyrics to the song This Is Me from the hit movie The Greatest Showman.  We presented the idea to our students in September and the response simply blew us away!  This week, after hours of finalizing permissions, holding auditions, staffing our editors, assistant directors, creative designers, and determining our cast we will work with over 250 students to start making our video.  You can feel the energy throughout the school.  There is an excitement that is contagious.  Students know that they are about to be part of something special, something unique.  They also know that their involvement is their commitment to sharing this belief that every student matters and every student belongs.  They are united in telling the world that everyone who enters our school brings value and is an important part of making our school great.

This week I want to share with you a behind the scenes video that was used to convince those in power to take The Greatest Showman and make it into a movie.  It took 7 years in the making, and it is moments like this that showcase the power of team work, strength through vulnerability, perseverance, and determination.  All of the values that we hold true to ourselves and one another at RMB.  Enjoy!

We can hardly wait to debut our own version of This is Me at RMB in the near future!

Mrs. Balkwill, Principal

this is me

 

 

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Three Hundred Nineteen.  This is the number of students at RMB that were in the Green for Attendance in September.

Four Hundred and Six.  This is the number of students that attend RMB.

I want you to imagine what school could and would be like if each student was able to be in the green for attendance every month.  The impact of instruction.  The opportunity to receive in-the-moment feedback frequently.  The strength in relationships with peers and staff.  The list goes on.

traffic_light

Attendance isn’t the responsibility of one, it is the responsibility of us all!  Students, teachers, support staff, families, and community members.  At school, you will see reminders in our entrance, hallways, offices and classrooms reinforcing the importance of good attendance.  You will hear conversations with students welcoming them each day and offering support when absences have occurred.  You will see staff reaching out to families to see if there are obstacles that are preventing regular attendance and offering to work together to find solutions.  Attendance Matters. 

At RMB, we want to work with any families that are finding it hard to be in the green.  This month we will be personally contacting each family where attendance was not in the green.  We will be doing this as a gesture of support.  A way to let you know that you are not alone and that we are here to help, to problem solve, and to work together to create a plan that will support regular attendance for your child(ren).

We are here to be your partners with a common goal of having each student at RMB feel success!

#dontmissaday

Mrs. A. Balkwill, Principal

 

 

 

Thanks and Giving

There is no greater feeling than being thankful and this school year has already provided so many opportunities to be thankful for.  One being our Open House and SCC BBQ this past week.  As you can appreciate, the time spent in preparation for this annual event is significant, yet not once did I hear a complaint.  From staff preparing welcome packages, ensuring the classroom environment is welcoming, to making arrangements with their family in order for them to stay for the evening.  I am thankful to the staff at RMB. From the SCC members who formed a committee to ensure that the BBQ was organized and efficient, who worked as a team modelling the power of being a united front, and who saw the value in each other’s efforts and contributions.  I am thankful to our SCC.  From the families who were able to join us and made it a priority to connect with staff, who visited among one another over a tasty supper, and who let their child(ren) take the lead on proudly showing off their classroom and introducing their teacher.  I am thankful for our families.  There is much to be thankful for!

As we continue to digest a long weekend of Thanksgiving feasting, it is important that, along with being thankful, that we also engage in the positive impact of giving.  Later this month we will launch a unique school fundraiser that will focus on giving (and not just money!).  The fundraiser will challenge students, staff and families to be generous in their contributions in making RMB and the RMB community rich in human spirit.  We know that everyone will rise to this challenge as we strive to create tomorrow together.

thanks and giving

So thank YOU for all you continue to do to support learning at RMB.  We know you make regular attendance a priority, we hear the positive way you speak about the staff to your child(ren), and we see the impact of your engagement with school priorities.

Thank you!

Mrs. A. Balkwill (Principal)

Failure Leads to Success

Failure.  It is a tough word that can bring out the worst or the best in us.  As we near the end of the first month of school, it would be easy to spend this post reflecting on the many successes we have experienced as a school community.  Instead, I have decided to dive a little deeper, to go beyond the surface, and really explore the pathway to success at RMB.  It doesn’t take much to soon realize a common theme to many of our successes.  It is failure.  Now, you may be reading this thinking that your Principal is already in need of a vacation because what kind of Principal writes about failure.  This one does and I will tell you why.

Take a moment to think of a skill that you consider yourself masterful at.  It could be something in your personal or professional life.  Now reflect on your journey to mastery.  My guess is that you were not proficient the very first time you tried this skill, and in fact, likely stumbled or failed multiple times.  I would also make a guess that you relied on someone who you deemed to be masterful to help guide you.  Maybe a family member, friend, or teacher.  And then, just maybe, you practiced and received feedback until you felt confident enough to start sharing or teaching your skill to others.  From there, you became masterful.  You persevered and built your resilience.

So let’s go back a few steps.  Imagine if after the first time trying you failed, that you gave up and never made another attempt.  Imagine the missed opportunities.  Seems hard to even consider not having this skill, doesn’t it?

Without failure, we would never experience many of our successes.  This applies to school every day.  The Educators at RMB make an effort to model for students the importance of resiliency.  They show support for student growth by encouraging students to build resilience and perseverance by learning how to fail forward, reflect, accept feedback, practice, and accept that others may develop a skill differently.  It is this type of belief, this mindset, that will see student success soar.

Let’s embrace failure, because it is evidence that we are learning and growing!

Mrs. Balkwill

failure