Professional Development: Dr. Thomas Guskey

Professional Development: Dr. Thomas Guskey

The focus of the time teachers will spend with Dr. Guskey is on standards based grading and reporting. It builds on the foundational teacher practice of skillful formative assessment in the classroom. It will give teachers an opportunity to learn together, examine existing practices, thoughtfully plan our way forward, and purposefully incorporate desired practices into our process of continual improvement. We affirm that the skill set of the classroom teacher is the factor with the greatest impact on student learning.

How School Transportation Planning Works

Bus routes are now being designed on the principle of furthest out, first on. This lets buses take the most direct route from the outskirts of their route to the school and back to the homes. Efficiency also means buses are providing students the most direct route to and from school. We make efforts to eliminate bus transfers and lengthy waits before or after school whenever possible. We also try to make all bus rides as short as possible.

Bussing Students in Glenwood and Hill Spring

For the last several years, Westwind transportation supervisors used the best tools available to them at the time, but much of the work was manual and time-consuming. Within the last 12 months, the transportation technology has advanced significantly, and new transportation supervisor, Mr. Corey McCarthy has worked tirelessly to implement a GPS based system that has much greater capacity than previous tools.

Stirling and Magrath Modernization Updates

Stirling and Magrath Modernization Updates

Westwind School Division takes being a community partner very seriously across our region. We make sure that our facilities are open to community groups free of charge. We ensure that our parks and fields are well maintained and open to the public throughout the year. We recognize our value to our communities as one of the primary employers in the region and make efforts to keep all our schools and facilities viable and growing through the provision of high levels of service.

Stirling Modernization Update

Work continues to progress on Stirling School Modernization Project.

This week our team toured the school with the contractor to see how to project is coming along. The roof is now going on to the gymnasium.

As the project continues to roll forward and we see the building come together, piece by piece, we would like to thank the community and our partners for your support in this project. This will be a world class educational facility that will help the community grow and help educate children for decades to come. Your support has been, and will continue to be, an essential element behind the success of this project. We will provide more updates on the status of this project as the weeks go by and we get closer to reopening the space to students and the public.

Magrath Modernization Update

A picture of the auditorium gym under renovation.

A picture of the auditorium gym under renovation.

Work continues to progress on the Magrath School Modernization Project.

This week our team toured the school with the contractor to see how the project is coming along. This week one of the focuses of the work is on the auditorium gymnasium.

As the project continues to roll forward and we see the building come together, piece by piece, we would like to thank the community and our partners for your support in this project. This will be a world class educational facility that will help Magrath grow and help educate children for decades to come. Your support has been, and will continue to be, an essential element behind the success of this project. We will provide more updates on the status of this project as the work progresses.

 

Professional Development Emphasis

Students in Westwind Schools continue to benefit from the extensive investment in professional development that Westwind provides to its staff.  These initiatives are directed at assisting professional staff in meeting and exceeding the Teaching Quality Standard in Westwind classrooms.

Five strategies for supporting teachers in their professional practice, for the benefit of students, are:

  1. Division Professional Development Days,
  2. Special Professional Development Cohorts throughout the year,
  3. School Based Professional Development
  4. Professional Learning Communities.
  5. Professional Partnerships with Universities and other Educational Consultants.

A listing of the professional learning opportunities afforded Westwind teachers over the last 7 years is available below:

Teacher Contracts

The Government of Alberta and the Alberta Teachers' Association (ATA) concluded bargaining the provincial level of the Collective Agreement for teachers from 2016- 2018 on two votes, the last of which occurred on May 24, 2017.

The negotiation process for this collective agreement with teachers is new in the history of Alberta, as explained by David Eggen, Minister of Education:

“This new model will allow school boards, the government, and the ATA to negotiate at a provincial table on issues that are relevant to all school boards. It also retains school boards’ autonomy to address local conditions that a!ect their local teachers. This system puts all the a!ected parties, including government, at the bargaining table in a transparent way.” (Government introduces improved teacher bargaining model, November 26, 2015)

With this is a new bargaining process, the Province decided to divide up the items that would be bargained, at the provincial level and the local level, including items such as:

Provincial Level Bargaining Items

  • Salary increases and grid
  • Health spending accounts
  • Group benefits and employer contribution percentage,
  • Sick, maternal, parental, adoption, and personal business leaves
  • Limits on instructional and assigned time
  • Assigned or unassigned professional duties,
  • Maximum Instructional and non- instructional days

Local Level Bargaining Items

  • Schedule and dates of salary payment
  • RRSP contributions
  • Group benefit design
  • Professional improvement, sabbatical, and graduate study leaves
  • Local directed professional development funds

Teacher Compensation

  • We are happy that teachers in Alberta are well paid and compensated for theirwork with our students, and we hope that this high salary level will help us recruit and retain great individuals to teach in Westwind schools. In a study on teacher compensation, Alberta teachers were found to be the highest paid in all of the western provinces by a significant margin, including Ontario. In a study done by the BC Teachers Federation in 2014, Alberta teachers had the highest salaries in Canada except Nunavut and the Northwest and Yukon Territories.

Teacher Workload

  • At the provincial bargaining table teacher workload was a major topic.
  • For many years, 200 days has been the maximum number of days of work for a teacher by legislation.  While this remains true, depending on the length of the school day, the number of days will be less than 200 for Westwind teachers.

Assignable time

  • As mandated by the Provincial agreement, 1200 hours per year is the maximum a teacher may be assigned.  This is true for all Alberta Teachers and reflects the norm of the large Urban boards in Calgary and Edmonton for the last 20 plus years.
  • Included in the 1200 hours is a maximum of 907 hours a teacher may be assigned to provide direct instruction to students.
  • The remaining 293 hours is to be assigned by local school boards and can include but is not limited to the following:
    • Staff development.
    • Staff meetings
    • Collaborative time with colleagues
    • Preparation time
    • Supervision of students
    • Teachers Convention
    • Non Instructional Days (PLC and School based PD)
  • In Westwind, teachers have been assigned 80 hours per year, outside the student timetable to work together under the direction of their Principal to achieve staff development goals that are determined by the staff and administration at the school level.
  • There remains at each school between 90 and 113 hours of assigned time that is left to the discretion of the leadership at each school.  Principals will be able to share the details of this with their school councils in the fall.
  • In the 2017 – 18 school year there will be a number of “non instructional” (Students do not attend) days when teachers will engage in PLC’s (professional learning communities), as well as Division based and School based professional development activities.
  • These days are extremely valuable to teachers as they are able to focus sharply on the skills of teaching and learning for the benefit of all students.
  • Teachers provide exceptional leadership in these events as they work collaboratively with their colleagues in pursuit of excellence through a cycle of continuous improvement.

It is recognized by the Westwind Board and Administration that the assignable time,(1200 hours) defined in the provincial agreement forms only part of the work that excellent teachers do.  Lesson planning and preparation, marking, gathering materials, are essential duties that teachers perform outside the school day.  In addition,  many valuable contributions by dedicated teachers come as voluntary offerings to students because of the passion teachers have to support their students outside the classroom.  These voluntary contributions include coaching in its many forms as well as contributing to the whole school experience and environment of the school.

Six Easy Ways to Fight the Summer Slide (and have fun doing it)

This article is a copy of a PDF made by Dreambox Learning

The National Summer Learning Association says students can lose up to three months of academic growth during the summer break when they’re not in school. This phenomenon commonly referred to as the “summer slide,” is completely avoidable. To help your children retain math concepts all year long, aim for thirty minutes three times a week, and the only slide your kids will experience this summer is the kind in the playgrounds and pools. 

Numbers and Operations

Developing number sense. Counting, estimating, adding, subtracting, multiplying, and working with fractions and money are important skills for your child. The more children use numbers, the better they understand number relationships. Simple card games can help kids develop matching and value recognition skills. Start with an easy-to-learn game like “War” that teaches them to identify numbers greater than or less than others. 

Algebra

Finding and understanding patterns. Create patterns with your child using numbers, shapes, or objects, and ask them what comes next. If there are six shapes repeated in the pattern, ask what shape will be in the tenth spot. Point out designs and ask your child to identify the pattern. The more you discuss patterns, the more instinctively your child will recognize them. 

Geometry

Exploring two-dimensional figures. Most kids love to draw. Why not incorporate shapes and geometric vocabulary into the mix? Ask your child to make an ice cream cone using two shapes. Then talk about the attributes of the shapes. How many sides does a triangle have? How many angles? Which lines are parallel?

Measurement

Understanding three-dimensional objects. Using building sets, ask your child to create a structure for a certain purpose (e.g., to house the horses) or that meets certain criteria (e.g., has a way for people to enter and exit). After they build their structure, ask them to describe how it functions to meet its given purpose. 

Create a project together that requires measurement (e.g., build a birdhouse, sew a quilt, or bake some brownies). Discuss the tools you use and how to get exact measurements. 

Data Analysis and Probability

Graphing research. Collect data, organize it, and interpret the results together. For example, research the most popular car color in your neighborhood. First, predict what color will be the winner. Then go for a walk and Probability with notebook in hand, and record the car colors you see. When you get home create a bar graph together. 

Process Standards

Solving everyday problems. Involve your child in real-life problem solving by thinking out loud and Process explaining your reasoning. When planting a garden, how many seed packets will we need? Calculate how many seeds we’ll need per row at six inches apart. What tool should we measure with or should we estimate? The more kids hear your reasoning, the more comfortable they’ll become using math. 

Strength & Hope for Linda Burwell

Westwind School Division trustees, administration, staff, parents, and students have been shocked by the news that beloved teacher Linda Burwell has suddenly been diagnosed with stage 4 glioblastoma. She has recently had a tumor removed from her brain, and will be undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatments to fight this cancer.

Linda has taught generations of students in Cardston over her 35 year teaching career. She has been the music and choir teacher at Cardston Elementary School for hundreds of students, and her skills as a music educator have won provincial and national recognition on multiple occasions over the years. 

The community is rallying behind Linda at an event on Monday, June 19, from 6 PM to 8 PM at the Cardston Elementary School called “Strength & Hope for Linda Burwell". The organizers say, “Ultimately, this event is a symbol of love, to give some monetary relief so Linda and her family can focus on treatment and recovery.” 

If you want to donate towards the expenses Linda and her family will incur during this fight against cancer, you can find a crowdfunding page for Linda on YouCaring.com. The fundraiser has a goal of $10,000, and raised $1,555 within its first ten hours, and had achieved $3,235 within 24 hours. 

Linda, we wish you success in your treatment and a speedy recovery. As your students so eloquently sang this past year, “I believe in the sun, even when it is not shining.”

Stirling Modernization Update

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Work continues to progress on Stirling School Modernization Project. 

This week our team toured the school with the contractor to see how to project is coming along. The gym walls and trusses are going up and the gym is continuing to approach completion. 

As the project continues to roll forward and we see the building come together, piece by piece, we would like to thank the community and our partners for your support in this project. This will be a world class educational facility that will help the community grow and help educate children for decades to come. Your support has been, and will continue to be, an essential element behind the success of this project. We will provide more updates on the status of this project as the weeks go by and we get closer to reopening the space to students and the public

Retirement Announcements

As the school year draws to a close we would like to thank our dedicated staff members who will be retiring at the end of the school year!

Shannon Kawade

Shannon began working as an educational assistant with Westwind School Division in 1987 at Raymond Junior High School. She took on an additional position of Librarian in 2008 at RJHS, before transitioning to being the school secretary in 2010, helping students, parents, and staff. You will be missed. Happy retirement!


Diane Oliver

Diane began working as an educational assistant with Westwind School Division in 1999 at Magrath Elementary School. She has worked focused on student health and helping individual students succeed in their classes in Magrath Elementary School. You will be missed. Happy retirement!


Carol Salmon

Carol began working as an educational assistant with Westwind School Division in 1997 at Del Bonita School. In 1998 she came to Cardston Elementary School under the Early Literacy Initiative and has been working with students at Cardston Elementary for the past 19 years. You will be missed. Happy retirement!


Marilyn Wood

Marilyn began working as an educational assistant with Westwind School Division in 1999 at Raymond Junior High School. She has been working at Raymond Junior High for the past 18 years, helping students succeed in school. You will be missed. Happy retirement!


Janet Workman

Janet began working as an educational assistant with Westwind School Division in 1992 at Raymond Junior High School. She has been working at Raymond Junior High for the past 25 years, helping students succeed in school. You will be missed. Happy retirement!


Ross Blackmer

Ross completed his Bachelor of Education majoring in Physical Education from the University of Lethbridge in 1978. He taught got a year at Raymond High School and then was hired in 1979 to be the Physical Education teacher at Magrath High School in what would become Westwind School Division. Among other highlights in his career, Ross participated in the Grade 9 Item Development Committee for Grade 9 Science in 1995, he served as a guidance counsellor and Vice Principal at Magrath High School and was involved in volunteering in many extracurricular activities in the school community. Happy retirement Ross!


Lorna Dorner

Lorna completed her Bachelor of Education at the University of Lethbridge in 1973. She was hired in 1973 by what would become Westwind School Division, at Lee Creek School. In 1976 Lorna transferred to teach at Magrath Elementary School. From 2006 until her retirement at the end of this year, Lorna has served the Magrath Elementary School community as a Vice Principal. Her influence has been felt by generations of students going through Westwind Schools over her 44 year career. Happy retirement Lorna! 


Wanda Gibbons

Wanda completed a diploma in what is now Developmental Services Counselling in 1978 from Fanshawe College in London, Ontario; a Liberal Arts Diploma in 1981 from Grande Prairie Regional College; and a Bachelor of Education from the University of Lethbridge in 1982. Wanda was hired as a special education teacher in January 1983 with what would become Westwind School Division. She spent 10 years teaching in special education, and grades 5 and 3 in the Magrath Elementary School until she moved to Magrath High School to teach junior high language arts and many other junior and senior high courses. After 35 years, happy retirement Wanda!


Dave Jardine

Dave completed his Bachelor of Education at the University of Lethbridge in 1988. He was hired at Raymond High School. He has spent his 29 year career teaching in Raymond. Happy retirement Dave!


Haroldine Neilson

Haroldine completed an Associate Degree at Ricks College in 1978 and Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education at Brigham Young University in 1980. She began teaching in what would become Westwind School Division in 1980 and spent her career in Mountain View School and Magrath Elementary School. Happy retirement Haroldine!


Darcy Ralph

Darcy completed his Bachelor of Education in 1982 at the University of Lethbridge. He was initially hired to teach at Northside Elementary in Raymond in 1988, and began teaching at Raymond Elementary School in 1990, where he remained teaching students for the remainder of his career. Happy retirement Darcy!


Rusty Rollingson

Rusty completed his Bachelor of Education in 1978 at the University of Lethbridge. He was hired to teach with Westwind School Division in 1985. He spent his career in Westwind at Magrath High School. Among other highlights in his career, Rusty served on Chemistry 30 Item Writing and Test Writing Committees, and a Biology 20-30 Subcommittee, and as the Vice Principal at Magrath High School. Happy retirement Rusty!


Cheryl Romeril

Cheryl completed her Bachelor of Science Degree in Early Childhood/Special Education in 1974 from Utah State University.  She was hired as a special education teacher in what would become the Westwind School Division. She also attended the University of Lethbridge and received a Diploma of Special Education. She has continued to teach at the Cardston Elementary School for the remainder of her career. Happy retirement Cheryl!


Shayne Tolman

Shayne completed his Bachelor of Education degree at the University of Lethbridge in 1986 and later completed a Masters of Science at the University of Calgary in 2002. He was hired as a teacher at the Eastridge Elementary School in 1986 in what would become Westwind School Division. He continued to teach at Cardston Elementary School, Cardston High School, and the Westwind Alternate School. Happy retirement Shayne!


Karen Toone

Karen completed her Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from Brigham Young University in 1992. She began teaching Westwind School Division in 1994, where she taught at Cardston Elementary School, Mountain View School, and Magrath Elementary School. Happy retirement Karen!

Engaging the Student Voice

What is the purpose of schools?  It has been said that the reason we have schools is for children to learn, grow and mature as they prepare to take their place among the leadership of the rising generation. If this is so, then all that is done in schools should be connected to what is best for the educational needs and experiences of students.  While there are many essential components of a great education, it is worthwhile to listen to the voices of the students who are experiencing this education.  

About three years ago, I felt the urge to undertake a more formal approach to hearing the student voice and responding to the messages we are hearing.  Clearly, the Principals door is open in public schools, and students have access to their school leaders to share their opinions, frustrations, suggestions, and compliments.   But in Westwind, we determined to establish a forum for students to engage with elected Trustees and the Sr. Administration in a new way.  Each secondary school was asked to appoint students who represented a cross section of their student population to be part of a student group.  This group was joined by the Superintendent, an Assistant Superintendent, and elected Trustees from the Board.

The Student Engagement Committee numbering between 30 and 40 people meet three times each year.  We take the opportunity to provide some leadership training for the students, and each session has a component where the students provide meaningful information about their educational experiences to the Superintendent and Trustees.  Generally, we use online mechanisms to ensure the candid confidentiality of the respondents and we provide the students with summaries of the information that is provided.

Following these meetings, the students then go back to their schools and meet with their school administration about the conversations and learning they have experienced with their peers from across the School Division.  In some cases, at the encouragement of principals, these students have presented their thoughts and ideas to the entire staff of their school and offered suggestions, advice, and encouragement to their teachers in a meaningful dialogue.  The Trustees who are part of this committee also report back to their colleagues on the Board about the perspective of the students they have interacted with.

On numerous occasions at the Board level, the thoughts, ideas, and passion of students had a significant influence on the decision-making actions of the Board. Hearing and responding to the student voice in education is viewed to be essential to the vision, direction, and passion in Westwind

Stirling School Modernization

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Work continues to progress on Stirling School Modernization Project. 

This week our team toured the school with the contractor to see how to project is coming along. The big projects this past while have been preparing the gym and the gathering area. 

As the project continues to roll forward and we see the building come together, piece by piece, we would like to thank the community and our partners for your support in this project. This will be a world class educational facility that will help the community grow and help educate children for decades to come. Your support has been, and will continue to be, an essential element behind the success of this project. We will provide more updates on the status of this project as the weeks go by and we get closer to reopening the space to students and the public.

Raymond Junior High: Superior Band Award

Very proud of the Raymond Raymond Junior High School Grade 8 Concert Band and Director Ryan Heseltine for winning a Superior Band Award from the 2017 Provincial Festival of Bands! This is a prestigious award that recognizes excellence in band performance in Alberta.

Bands are judged by a panel of three adjudicators. Two adjudicators submit a score sheet, and one handles a clinic with a more detailed written evaluation. After the performance of three pieces, the students work with the clinician and receive feedback and tips to improve. Following the clinic, the band performs in a sight reading competition. For this, they are given a brand new, never before seen, piece of music. They get five minutes to look through the music and figure it out (during this time, they are not allowed to play their instruments) before performing it for a different (fourth) judge. Bands receive their score based on the culmination of all performances and clinics. Scores range from Poor, Fair, Good, Excellent and Superior. The Raymond Grade 8 Concert Band band received Superior from every adjudicator including their sight reading.

Congratulations!