Minutes of the January 26, 2014, Meeting

Parents of Prince Street
Home and School Meeting
January 26, 2014

Shelley called the meeting to order. 

PRINCIPAL'S REPORT

Principal Erin Johnston shared an update on happenings in the school since the last meeting.

The lockdown drill was rescheduled from the originally planned date, but it went extremely well. It was one of the most successful drills Erin has witnessed.

Parent Teacher interviews saw a good turnout.

The Remembrance Day assembly in November was particularly good and was well-received by students.

Literacy meetings with literacy coaches gave teachers a chance to talk about data from the last writing prompt, with an emphasis on what to do in the classroom with what was learned.

Kindergarten registration is at about 38 students and is into the three-class range.  Registration now will form the basis for staffing numbers. If anyone knows any kindergarten-aged children who are not yet registered, please let them know to register as soon as possible.

Winter concerts received positive feedback. People were okay with one earlier and one later; in fact, this seemed popular. Parents expressed appreciation of the shorter length of concert for the smaller children and the way each grade sang one song together. Two new microphones were purchased with money raised during winter concerts.

PLIP: Grade two reading data was submitted to the Eastern Language School Board and Susan Lea Manning is providing additional literacy support to grade two teachers.

Grade six students received their second round of HPV needles in November.

There have been a number of staffing changes and a number are upcoming. A Grade One teacher on maternity leave decided not to return until fall. A Behaviour Resource teacher has been offered a position with the ELP program for children who cannot stay in regular classroom. His job is posted and will be filled. Our School Counsellor Sherry Lynn MacMillan is going on maternity leave, and Jenna Rogerson will replace her during her leave. Grade Three teacher Faye Adams is retiring at the end of the week. Her replacement to the end of the school year, will be Donna Wigmore, who will meet the students on Wednesday.

The school Elf on the Shelf, "Chip," was a big hit and visited each classroom. During his visit, there was a gift for each classroom (a book). The Elf on the Shelf for the school took on a larger life as community support for this school poured in over Christmas. A few families were sponsored, and many people wanted to help on a smaller scale and just bought individual gifts for students, so Chip was able to leave presents for well over fifty students. The look on some faces was unbelievable as they received gifts. Chip's antics were considered hilarious.

There was a successful Dance in December, with proceeds for water for students the turkey dinner.

An assembly with the Island Storm was another big hit.

The ArtSmart program that Ms. Caseley's and Mrs. Wildey's classes participated in resulted in a beautiful and impressive giant globe we hope to hang in the school entranceway. The artwork represents the multicultural nature of Prince Street School.

The turkey dinner sponsored by Trinity Clifton United Church was a huge success, with over 300-320 people served including staff. Pizza suppliers Dominos and Papa John's also provided free pizza for special meals before the holidays.

The Choir went carolling before holidays. The Drama club got started up.

School board liaison Ron Tweel was here in the school for a full day reconnoitre last week. He met with the School Effectiveness committee and had "walks and talks" with the Principal (observing and discussing school matters, with a focus on teaching-related things). He did the breakfast breakfast program, spent time in classes working with children, helped do announcements, participated in dog training with Eileen Higginbotham, and visited every grade level through the day.

Movie night in January was a big success.

Erin is working with students on "Prince Street School Pride" with a goal to have a school mascot or symbol. Before Christmas, students in each grade chose key words about what Prince Street means to them, choosing words for each of the letters in "PRINCE." They are now looking at the words and what they mean and voting to select the words that best suit Prince Street's sense of itself. Teachers are working with students to narrow choices to two words per letter. Then there will be a run-off vote with the top two choices for each letter. Parents were invited to vote, too. Votes were due Thursday, January 30.

The update from the School Effectiveness crew was that preparation for the second writing prompt (on persuasive writing) is coming up. There will be meetings with literacy coaches, and the school is also working with numeracy goals. Folks from department have attended staff meetings to present data from provincial assessment. It is clear Prince Street needs to look at the number strand and next to narrow down what strategies will move students forward.

Today was Family Literacy Day. There was book trivia all day. There were ballots with one student from each grade getting a book prize. There were readings in every class, and Erin read a book to the school in the morning. There was a great deal of enthusiasm.

The school board Superintendent will visit and will read to K classes next Monday.

On the PD Day this Friday, a literacy coach will be here for half the day. Grade level teams will decide what the topic will be for the persuasive writing prompt. It has to be worded properly so it is fair and unbiased. There will be reviews of al the reading data collected from all teachers to this point in the year. The principal has done some analysis of student writing results to see who is meeting goals, who isn't, and what to do about it. The last part of the PD day will focus on numeracy goals next steps: to ensure plans, follow-through, and accountability.

A school psychologist has been assigned to the school for the next while. Parents noted the shortage of school psychologists, and Erin clarified the school psychologist is not with us full-time or full-year. There is still a waiting list to see her while she is assigned to the school. The list of students needing support has been reprioritized and reviewed since last time we had access.

Because there are delays in assessments, before jumping to assessments, the psychologist may help fill in gaps, and teachers and administrators at the school will work with her to do what is possible before assessment, including looking into other interventions. The assessment process is a huge amount of work. There are years worth of waiting. There are some counselling consultant positions to bridge the gaps, but there is a lack of qualified people for psychologist positions.

There was a discussion to distinguish school counsellors and school psychologists. Guidance counsellors are trained for counselling students in the school. Psychologists are mostly focused on educational psychological assessment. They can indicate learning disabilities. A school counsellor would typically not be trained for these assessments. A Psychologist can also deal with threat situations, grief counselling, and other similar things.

Private psychologists are available but very expensive. Referrals to Richmond Centre are another possible route. A couple of times that has been possible, but students still face a wait and schools have to pull some strings. One great thing about Prince Street is the resource team: the knowledge and skill level with resource team and the way they work with the whole school are all very strong. It is still a good school to attend when someone is struggling.

If the teachers are pretty sure there's a learning disability, they will work in that direction, and oftentimes an assessment will only confirm what teachers already know and have been working with.

TREASURER'S REPORT

Little has changed in the Home and School finances. We have about $4,000 in bank account, with some teachers' wish list items still to come through. Concerts and bake sales brought in about $600 with just one week at the market with the raffle on the basket. A second week at the market usually would up the profits from the raffle.

SUPERINTENDENT MEETING
(Meeting of Home and School Reps of Col. Gray Feeder Schools with the Superintendent)

Heather attended the meeting for Prince Street. It was interesting: many parents tried to use the meeting to indicate a level of frustration that older children (upper grades) are experiencing at school. Parents said their sons and daughters find themselves at loose ends when they complete their work. The Superintendant was unclear about the role Home and Schools fill here in PEI and did not think fundraising or filling wish lists should be the role of home and school. She pictured a more limited role supporting education, more like the structure familiar to her in Newfoundland and Labrador. In NL parent-council groups have very specific guidelines about what they can and can't do. The provincial Home and School will help the new superintendent get a sense of the history and current work of the PEI Home and School, to help change understanding.

Heather said there was no message from the meeting. If this is to be an annual meeting, a questionnaire in advance would be an improvement. There were two open-ended questions shared in advance, but questions could be more focused and effective. It would be helpful to know the school board's goal for the evening.

There may be further feedback from a Principals' meeting with the Superintendant.

UPCOMING WORKSHOPS

Shelley handed out Parent Leadership Grants Proposal Kit.

Last year, our proposal was for 4 things: a Young Authors' Night, two numeracy workshops, and a workshop on creating healthy lunches on a budget. Young Authors and the K-2 numeracy workshop were very successful. The Healthy Lunches event didn't attract enough pre-registrations so we thought we would do it in the fall. We should try to reschedule both it and the 3-6 numeracy workshop, if we can think about some times to fit those two workshops in. Ms. J recommended David Costello as a dynamic speaker for the numeracy workshop. Shelley will check in with the Healthy Eating Alliance about who might give a workshop on healthy lunches. Through the grant program, we will get reimbursed for what we spend.

TEACHER-STAFF APPRECIATION

Teacher-Staff Appreciation week is coming up February 10 to 14. We normally do a number of different things for the 50 staff. Parents volunteer to bring in snacks during the week, two parents a day for the first 4 days. Friday we provide lunch and yard duty for teachers. We also give bus drivers a gift card to Tim's or something similar.
Dana will again coordinate a Compliment box: The school will send out sheet this week to have students put in a compliment. Dana can type up the submissions from students and post them outside the classroom doors of the staff who get the compliments. Kids can have as many ballots as they want. Ms. J will need the ballot template. Erin is away that week, so H&S will liaise with Colleen. We will need a few extra appreciation bags in case of extra staff in during the week. The Home and School aims to spend about $5 per gift bag.

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED: Anyone willing to bring in snacks on a particular day, please let Shelley know. For yard duty, we need three people. (Note: Some EAs and support staff can't be replaced on yard duty.)

Book Fair: A 2nd Book Fair is happening to coordinate with Parent-Teacher Interviews in March. We are looking for parent volunteers to staff it so our librarian can participate in p-t interviews. Heather volunteers for March 6th in the evening and Jane's mom will volunteer for March 7th in the morning.

SCHOOL NUTRITION

School Nutrition and Activity Report (SNAP) assessments are in but not to be distributed. Students complete a survey. Each school gets a response and analysis. Data relates to nutrition and weight. The report comes with an offer of help and support for schools.

Erin asked: Do you want SNAP to present to staff or home and school? There's a grant for SNAP people to work with a group of parents and students and staff to examine and lead to a grant. Some Grade 6 students were part of a student leadership program with Ms. Duffy and are keen to be involved in follow-up.

Nutrition and health support: Has there ever been a discussion about a lunch program? One challenge in this school is there is not enough room/space. Some programs bring delivery straight to the classrooms. In the past, the school tried spaghetti. They tried "real meals" and most got thrown in the garbage. Those who needed it couldn't afford it and/or wouldn't eat it.

Erin explained the school is now doing pizza four times a month rather than two times a month, and hot dogs twice a month. According to healthy eating guidelines, hot dogs are supposed to be once a month. Pizza is supposed to be whole wheat. (This was tried at another school and sales cut in half) There are a number of students every day who come without a lunch or without enough for lunch. We have always had a food cupboard here at Prince Street for hungry kids. In the past it was stocked by home and school, then a church group, and now it is stocked by a group of supporters/friends and Trinity United Church. One useful contribution to school nutrition is gift cards for breakfast program that can be used for other things. There are leftovers from the breakfast program that can be used for lunches. 70 kids a day come to school for the breakfast program. They love the social time as well as the toast.

Is there a Second Harvest program in PEI -- collection from grocery stores that are "off" for shelf but still edible? There is none that we know of. Prince Street has had apples donated regularly though.

School reps we are in good shape with the breakfast program and that the cupboard in the staff room is in good shape. Trinity United Church has made a huge difference in the last two years. They have a pancake breakfast fundraiser that Home and School will help promote as soon as we know the date.

Next meeting date: March 13th, 6:30 p.m.