Welcome to the New School Year!

September 26, 2017

Ramona called the meeting to order and introduced herself and Kristy as co-chairs.
Ramona had drafted an agenda, which the new principal Anna distributed.
About 16 members of the school community and 1 translator attended.
There was a roundtable of introductions of all participants. 

This year's executive:

- Ramona Doyle and Kristy Phillips - Co-Chairs

- Heather MacEwen - Treasurer

- Jane Ledwell - Secretary


Marilyn talked to the Home and School about the Start with a Seedling program, which is back this year for Kindergarten. She shared a handout about the program. It began in 2014 as a research project and was very successful. Last year, there was a lack of funding and volunteers, but it’s exciting that it has been able to return this year.

The program includes field trips to the Farm Centre and Legacy Garden, to connect kindergarten children to intergenerational mentors and also to hands-on learning about food production. The program goal is to increase food literacy. A grant from the Seniors’ Secretariat has helped ensure the program could run this year.

There is a hope among organizers that this project will grow. Is there a possibility that Prince Street could be a site where this could scale up? Home and School members were hopeful that it could.

Last year, there was an after school cooking program that was quite successful. Chris Sallie, who organized it, has moved away from Charlottetown, but the nutritionist who worked with him on the program is interested in continuing these after school classes.

Marilyn explained that scaling the program up could include a component for grade three as well as kindergarten and the after school cooking.

Anna MacKenzie reported that the kindergarten teachers are really excited about the program. It meets many curriculum outcomes. Grade Three has an agriculture curriculum outcome and would be the best fit from teachers’ perspective. Current Grade Three students were part of the first group that participated in the Start with a Seedling program when they were in Kindergarten.

Parents spoke very favourably about the program. They were disappointed it didn’t continue up from kindergarten to higher grades. Parents also spoke highly of the after school cooking program.

There is still room for more volunteers for Start with a Seedling!
Please share the call for volunteers, if you can. Please contact startwithaseedling@gmail.com. The call for volunteers can be found on Facebook or here it is in the e-newsletter from Jane’s work: http://mailchi.mp/60d678a514f4/pei-status-of-women-enews-sept-14?e=36104...


Staffing: Anna MacKenzie is the new principal this year. (Home and School was very pleased to meet her!) The school lost Kelly Gillis as vice-principal but gained her as literacy coach. Aletha Coady is acting as vice-principal and has been a great support in the transition, with great knowledge of the school and of student academics. Natasha Bromley will arrive at the school as vice-principal after she finishes a parental leave. She comes from a background of a school with progress-monitoring and other programs familiar to Prince Street. Ms. Wadden-Hughes, the music/library teacher will be beginning a maternity and parental leave soon. Anna hopes to have someone hired to fill her leave in the next two to three weeks.

School Goals: School goals have been mapped out from 2016 to 2019. They are goals that are very specific. The whole province is working on reading as a goal, and every school also has a 4-6 writing goal and a 4-6 math goal. Results of assessments from May and June of last year will be available and will go public in October. These will help us see how well we are doing towards our goals.

Prince Street School’s School Effectiveness Goals 2016-2019
1. K-3 Reading - Increase students meeting expectations in reading in 2016-2017 from 65% to 72%.
2. 4-6 Writing - Increase students meeting expectations in writing in 2016-2017 from 58% to 65%.
3. 4-6 Math - Increase students meeting expectations in math in 2016-2017 from 65% to 72%
4. Public confidence - Increase in the development of partnerships with parents to support academic student success.
5. Well-being - Increase in students’ ability to persevere and “never give up.”

So, updates will be forthcoming on academic goals. From what Anna has seen, the non-academic goals are in good standing. Programs such as breakfast program and lunch have volunteers. This and other parental support has been very good this year so far. Anna observes that students use “never give up” in their language.

In other learning goals, the workshop model, learning plans, and coaching support to staff are all continuing for language arts and math goals. We are also still part of the wraparound program which offers many resources.

A parent asked for more information about the “wrap” school model. Anna explained that 5 to 6 schools in the province, including Prince Street, receive additional resources (more than other schools) to bring student achievement up: for example, more/longer access to math and literacy coaches. Research says a model with an embedded coach really increases results — it is good for teachers and for students to have more access to resource people to help them get past hurdles or beyond plateaus with new strategies.

PD Day: The Professional Development Day on October 6 will be focused on refining work on school goals with literacy, numeracy, and administrative coaches.

Literacy Materials: Anna drew attention to new literacy materials. “Lucy Calkins kits” are a resource for teachers that is a highly reputable, research-based program for teaching reading and writing. There is a set of K-3 reading resources in the school already, and a 4-6 writing set to come. The Lucy Calkins kits are so much in demand that there is a three-week waiting list to access the kits at the Public Schools Branch, and we have our own set.

Allergies: There are Prince Street students with allergies to tuna, peanuts, nuts, and shellfish that are considered life-threatening allergies. Please help avoid these in student lunches. Anna clarified that fish other than tuna and shellfish are okay.

Breakfast Program: The program is up and running on school mornings from 8:00 to 8:20. Kristy provided an update from Tanya. Volunteers are in place, but it would be helpful to have two more, specifically on Mondays and Thursdays. (Since the additional volunteers would be a third person helping those morning, it might be possible for them to start at 7:30.) Donations of food or money are always welcome. The program has lots of jam. Gift cards to Superstore would be helpful; most gift cards are for Sobey’s, and this lets the program access only half the sale items. Always welcome: quick-cooking oatmeal; popular dry cereals without too much sugar, such as Shreddies, or Mini-Wheats.

Hot Lunch: The hot lunch program is up and running. The Executive of Home and School met with Anna before the school year and this was one topic of discussion. A new item was available today: Taco Tuesday from Green Isle Catering. Kirsty said it was the biggest lunch order she has ever put through. The only challenge was that the gluten-free taco shells were not labelled for the child’s name. One child with celiac disease didn’t get lunch today. People did not seem put off by the $5 price this week.

Bussing Support: Some issues have come up with students out of seats and talking too loudly. Parents, please reinforce with children who take the bus that it is important to sit in seats and using indoor voices. One bus was overcrowded; this required some shifts in buses, and now the buses are evened out but both are very full.

Students Achieve: The Students Achieve system is the system Prince Street uses to collect attendance and keep records. There is an option to use mass email to parents to send messages. Anna would like to try this this winter. It would not be overused or overwhelm people’s inboxes. Parents were supportive of this idea.

Website: Anna would like to update the school’s official website http://www.edu.pe.ca/princestreet/ but has not yet had the chance. She asked for patience — and for feedback about what people would like to see. A parent noted that the link to “Enter the website” requires scrolling down too far. Could this please be fixed? Parents expressed a wish to have a listing of staff email addresses. Is there a way to include this on the website?

The Terry Fox Walk is coming up on Friday.

Orange Shirt Day is also coming up on Friday. This is a movement to recognize the legacy of residential schools. Parents wanted to know more. Could Ms R-B or someone from the school please post an explanation on the Facebook page? Parents commented that this topic requires a lot of sensitivity. Parents would like to know how to support students on this topic.

After-school Programs: Anna and Aletha would like to know Home and School priorities for after school programming. We discussed a list of options before discussing priorities.
- Recreation PEI would like to implement a cycling project. The project coordinator would like to sit down with the phys-ed teacher, the Principal, and home and school representatives to see what it would mean.
- Blue Jays Camp - Baseball, traditionally held in the spring. Students enjoy this.
- Bricks for Kids Lego program could run any time of year, but it comes at a cost. It costs $50 per student for 4 weeks, 1 night a week. At a past school, Home and School was able to subsidize. Kids love it. There is a cap on enrolment. It would be worth exploring some options for funding so that it could be kept at a $20 registration. This program may be an option that includes students from K-6.
- Red Cross Home alone program is a one-evening course for 10 and up.
- Game Force is a one-week free program, usually two hours. The project coordinator brings in laptops loaded with software and students learn animation. Grade 6 might be a good fit for this.
- Cooking Skills courses ran last year November-December for Grade 5 and after Christmas for Grade 4. The hope is that the expanded funding for the Seedling program will expand this program as well. Marilyn will be the parent-liaison for this program.
- Traditionally, the youth service worker did soccer, dodgeball, and other sports activities after school. The new youth service worker is working on getting programming planned.
- Might there be interest in a Chess Club this year? We’ve sent students to competitions (12 last year) but they have not had the benefit of a club to learn tournament etiquette. Heather and Richard are willing to run an evening a week.
- There has been art program sometimes in the past, in some years with Ruth Lacey. Parents with experience at other schools also recommended Maurice Bernard as a resource person for this.
- Students who took part in dance club are missing this. It was run by Kelly Gillis, who cannot run it this year because she is not always at Prince Street first thing in the morning. Someone will check in with Dance Virtuoso about possibilities of an experienced teacher or even a well-trained high school student who could come and gain volunteer hours while working with the children.

Parents noted it is nice to have something as inclusive as possible for as many grades and as many kids as possible.

The group set priorities for after school programming:
- Ramona and Kristy will check in with Recreation PEI about the bikes program.
- Bricks for Kids is likely to be a hit if it can be subsidized.
- Something sport-related with the youth service worker (some kind of organized game to learn the rules but also get a chance to play) - A parent noted Rugby PEI is doing outreach and could be enticed to run a program. Heather will check into this.

Heather is treasurer and shared a report on how much money came in and how much we spent last year. We will probably bring in another $1,000 or so between Christmas concert bake sale, raffle of best seats at the Christmas concert, and a family fun night.

Usually we do a “wish list” for teachers to supplement classroom supplies. This year we will work with the principal to decide on one purchase (about $800) that will benefit a wide range of students or the whole school. Anna and Aletha will bring this to the next staff meeting to start selecting a purchase.

Jane has been Prince Street’s representative on the District Advisory Council since its inception, but she has new volunteer commitments this fall and won’t be able to continue. She would like parents to think about taking on this role and selecting a District Advisory Council representative will be on next month’s agenda.

Jane told parents about Learn Day, coming up this Saturday, to discuss and create a vision for education in PEI. Jane is not able to attend because she is travelling for her work this weekend.

Parents explained that Spring Fling is our biggest annual fundraiser - a barbecue in June with carnival-style games. Family Fun Nights are smaller and simpler but lots of fun.

Last year, the fall family fun night was very successful. The event is easy to run and tends to be well-attended and well-enjoyed. The “fun” typically includes board games, a craft table, just dance and/or karaoke, and a bake sale table. Parents come with their children. Entry is by donation at the door, with a suggested donation of $2 person or $5 a family.

Parents who are new to Prince Street were asked for ideas for events that have worked at other schools or that they would like to see. One parent offered that at her child’s previous school, a math games night with different math games in different classes was a great success.

Kirsty shared an idea from CHANCES program ”Activate Your Family” with Gord McNeilly. He is very dynamic and fun — and he is willing to do fitness/activity sessions with schools. This could be a really fun night with parents and kids. Could this be a program to apply for a parent engagement grant? Heather will see what the price would be and look into a grant. We will try to line up an Active Fun night with Gord in October. As a fundraiser, we could sell milk or chocolate milk and apples. Perhaps we could get apples donated.

It was decided that a Family Fun Night will be planned for November. The date will be determined.

Raffle Basket: It was decided that we will assemble a raffle basket in time to display it at November events, such as parent-teacher interviews/book fair, and family fun night. We will sell tickets on the basket until the Christmas concert. Carla will coordinate. Tickets will be $2 each or 3 for $5. Kristy and Heather will help line up the raffle license. Several parents offered items for the basket. Donations welcome!

Candy rewards continue to be a concern for parents. Last year the treats were greatly reduced. Could this be addressed again? Anna and Aletha took note of concerns. Aletha provided some historical background about this problem to Anna and new parents.

A parent also expressed a concern about helping students to prepare for quizzes, but never seeing the quiz results, so we don’t know about progress. Anna encouraged parents to have conversations with their children’s teachers directly. Sometimes teachers are creating a portfolio for parent-teacher interviews. Progress monitoring is great for the teacher — but it would be great to have more information to parents. Feedback from teachers confirms that progress monitoring is not parent-friendly.

The regular meeting was set for the 4th Tuesday of each month except December and March. Meetings will take place at 6:30 at the school, with childcare and translation.
2017-2018 meetings:
October 24
November 28 (Note: meeting date corrected)
December - no meeting
January 23
February 27
March - no meeting
April 24
May 22

The meeting adjourned with thanks to all.