Sturgeon Creek teachers saluted

Teachers from the primary division at Sturgeon Creek School in Barwick were honoured last night with the Rainy River District School Board’s Recognition of Excellence Award for their development of a professional learning community there.
At the board’s regular meeting here, teachers Vicki Ogilvie, MaryAnn Haw, Krista Williams, Sherri Hay, and Kim Walter shared how their work has impacted them professionally—and how it has impacted their students.
“What they do is very special when they do it together,” noted Sturgeon Creek principal Kendall Olsen. “They embrace what it means to be a professional learning community.”
In his article “What is a Professional Learning Community?”, Richard Dufour explains to be a true professional learning community, the community members must adhere to three “big ideas”:
•ensures that student learning is the focus;
•recognizes that they must work together to achieve their collective goal of learning for all students; and
•judges their effectiveness on the basis of results for students.
“As we work together, our children benefit,” stressed Ogilvie. “We don’t want to leave any children behind.”
Haw said she sees students advancing because the teachers in the professional learning community share the same beliefs regarding the students, learning, and change.
“The students see a greater value when the know we, too, are on a learning journey,” she added.
Both Ogilvie and Haw also indicated the students are proud when their work and accomplishments are shared with others.
“It promotes self-esteem and confidence,” Haw explained. “We are a family that supports each other.”
Hay, meanwhile, spoke about her role as the “Reading Recovery” teacher within the professional learning community. She noted the teachers share with each other on a formal and informal basis.
“When a child says thank you, Mrs. Hay, . . . we, as a team, have successfully done our job,” she remarked.
For her part, Walter had an interesting view of the professional learning community being a new teacher to the school and board.
She indicated after having taught at school boards in other provinces, it’s clear the Rainy River District School Board is miles ahead in the support it gives its teachers.
Meanwhile, Williams stressed the professional learning community at Sturgeon Creek continues to evolve and grow.
“We’re committed to student learning and achievement,” she stressed. “We’re a small school with a big heart.”
Education Director Jack McMaster thanked the teachers for sharing their passion and collegiality, and commended them on how they work together as a team.
In other business at last night’s meeting, the board heard a presentation on the full-day, every day senior kindergarten program and the upcoming JK/SK registration.
The Rainy River District School Board implemented the full-day, every day senior kindergarten class in 2005-06, whereby these students attended school all day, every day.
Kindergarten teachers Ogilvie, Karen Woods, and Dorothy Quibell explained to the board some of the advantages to this, noting daily exposure in the school environment benefits students both socially and academically.
“We know our students better—their strengths, needs, and interests,” said Ogilvie. She indicated the students’ enthusiasm stayed high and they had a greater sense of belonging to the school community.
Data collection suggests the board is on the right track when it comes to making the choice of full-day, every day senior kindergarten.
In addition, it was noted JK/SK registration will take place Feb. 20 from 2-5 p.m. and once again, both parents and children will be invited into the school for an opportunity to meet their teacher, visit their classroom, and receive a backpack full of goodies for both parents and child.
They also have a chance to check out other areas of the school while perhaps getting to know some of their future classmates.
Also last night, the board:
•received reports on “Developing Partnerships with Parents” and the “Principal/Vice-Principal Mentoring Pilot Project”;
•approved the following policies: Information/Communication Technology Use, Code of Conduct, and Safe Schools; and
•heard reports from the Finance Committee, the Special Education Advisory Committee, and the Aboriginal Education Advisory Committee.