It Takes a Village
Jason Hill, Assistant Principal, Windsong Heights School – Rocky View Schools (RVS) is unique in that it serves students from both urban and rural communities, as well as those who have migrated to Alberta from other provinces and even other countries. And while we celebrate this diversity that brings cultural and experiential richness to our communities, we are pleased to see that our families have one thing in common, no matter where they come from – a strong desire to actively and positively support their children’s academic pursuits, as well as the broader community.
During the Define/Develop phase of the Fall Playbook, Windsong Heights School (WHS) identified one of its “How Might We” question as, “How might we intentionally partner with families in support of student learning?” We are seeking to deepen connections between school and families, embrace diversity and foster respect and understanding. We will monitor how WHS families are feeling about the partnerships and their connections between school, home and their communities.
In the spring of 2019, as part of RVS’ partnership with Calgary Reads, WHS administration participated in a book study on Karen Mapp’s Powerful Partnerships: A Teacher’s Guide to Engaging Families for Student Success. Mapp’s identification of the value of partnerships and suggestions to support our work has effectively guided us in prototyping intentional partnerships. A core belief of Mapp’s is that it is the responsibility of the school staff, especially school leaders, to initiate, cultivate and sustain the partnership between school, home and community. This core belief has resonated with our staff as we further develop and strengthen our relationship with WHS families.
WHS is a place of learning, but this learning is not limited to our student population. Our English Language Learning (ELL) Parent Group is connecting ELL parents from all around Airdrie with one another. A 10-week evening course led by the Parent Group is promoting multiculturalism and friendship within our community, extending beyond our students, while providing connection and learning opportunities for families. These informal sessions cater to the needs and interests of participants. WHS’ School Council also has hosted a number of family learning events that have been extremely well attended. Sessions have focused on building awareness and understanding around topics such as anxiety, ADHD, vaping and social media. These learning opportunities are open to all RVS parents and have provided an additional means to connect families with their children’s learning.
Utilizing the playbook, we continue to develop events and activities that intentionally strengthen the partnership of families and school. Communication, as in so many areas of our work, is key as our staff collaborates with WHS families. Through this collaboration we look forward to providing ongoing, targeted learning opportunities based on the identified needs and interests of our WHS parents and community.