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Parent Council Meeting
Feb 14 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Trillium Waldorf School Parent Council Meeting
February 14, 2018, 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Location: Forest Frog Kindergarten, Trillium Waldorf School
In attendance: Parent Council committee members: Mary Kate Craig, Kristin Gyuran, Cheryl Hume, Shauna Blois, Anna Bowen; Board rep: Aaron Maksym; Faculty member: Arlene Kamo; Parent reps: Neetu Singh (Meadow Mouse), Jason Porter & Rachel Lambert (Gr 1), Michelle Muller & Lisa Detriler (Gr 3), Melinda Newell (Gr 5). Community members: Simon deBoer, Marion Baldwin.
- Welcome: Recited opening verse together
- Land Acknowledgement was read by Anna
- Group introductions were performed.
- Update on school staffing:
Arlene and Mary Kate addressed the recent staffing change – that Rob is no longer serving in the position of Enrollment Coordinator for the school. Updates on programs that Rob was involved with included:
- The Healthy School Culture program was co-chaired by Arlene Kamo, and Arlene is continuing to chair the committee in its usual activities.The Student Support Care coordinators will be meeting Feb 15 to discuss how to maintain the support networks.
- Spring Fair committee – grades involved have already met, committee is formed, Fair organization is in progress, committee will reach out to Rob’s contacts to maintain communication.
ACTION ITEM: The Spring Fair committee will try to investigate any contacts that were made regarding Spring Fair (e.g. people providing activities have had preliminary contact) with the Administrative staff.
Other discussion points regarding the staffing change included:
- The position will be re-advertised shortly.
- A parent brought forth the concern that a sudden exit of a community member can sometimes lead to a sense of fracture within the community – how can the community be guided in this area while maintaining sensitivity and privacy for the staff member. Can the next monthly meeting with Kim John Payne offer any suggestions on a healthy way to handle these situations?
ACTION ITEM: Arlene will look into approaches.
- A parent asked if the staff needs extra support from parents during the period where they are lacking an enrolment coordinator. E.g., parents could speak with potential new families to answer questions.
ACTION ITEM: Arlene will bring this to the faculty meeting (which Admin staff attend).
- The previous Minutes were accepted without changes/amendments
- Call for additional Agenda items
- A parent asked for for clarification on parking guidelines in the school parking lot (parking circle in back, backing into parking spaces).
ACTION ITEM: communicators to email Jennifer for a parking clarification & diagram/picture to be emailed to the school community.
- Review of previous action items & updates:
Kristin gave an update on the New family welcome initiative:
- All class parent reps were contacted and asked to notify Parent Council when any new families join the class to ensure that the families are added to the email groups. In addition, parent reps were asked to contact the family (in phone or in person) to ensure they are getting the school communications and to personally invite the new parents to the Council meetings.
- A welcome basket with items from the community was part of the initiative, and has been running for 4 weeks. There have not been many responses from the community regarding this initiative. Kristin suggested that this was put on hold. It was noted that the Healthy School Culture group is working on other initiatives on how to welcome new families, and perhaps the basket idea (or other welcoming ideas) could be further advanced by group’s work.
- Arlene suggested a committee be created to further identify what should go into the baskets, then specific donations solicited. The idea can be kept in the Strategic Plan, and further developed.
ACTION ITEM: communicators to put announcement in Friday Forget-Me-Not calling volunteers.
- Further ideas were discussed by the group on how to best welcome parents to the school. In other schools, and previously at TWS, a “Parent Buddy” system is in place. In this system, parent buddies from older classes / experienced in the school would be identified and paired up with kindergarten families. This provides new parents of kindergarten children, or new additions to the school, a personal contact to answer questions regarding the school.
ACTION ITEM: communicators to email Social Strategic Plan group with these ideas.
- A Look Ahead to Upcoming Events:
An update on AED installation & training was provided by Kristin:
- The AED has been installed outside of the Parent & Child/Bounding Bunnies room. An AED is used in cardiac arrest and is becoming as common in schools and public buildings as a fire extinguisher. Anyone can use the machine without training, but
- Kristin is also hosting 2 training sessions to increase awareness of how to use the AED. Links for the training are in the Friday Forget-Me-Not , and on Facebook. This is not a certification course, but will include CPR, First Aid, and AED training and is a free session.
- There is an internal alarm on the AED cabinet for school safety in case the cabinet is opened inadvertently (please note the alarm is not linked to an external alarm company, and when opened it does not trigger a call to emergency services).
- Arlene noted that Kristin previously led a First Aid seminar with faculty & staff, and the session was very informative. Kristin is also attending tomorrow’s faculty meeting to update staff on the AED.
An update on Spring Fair organization was provided by Kristin:
- The Spring Fair Committee has been formed (6 people), and class reps are chosen from Grades 3, 4, 5.
- Mentors for the big areas (café, activities, etc) have been identified and are working with the committee.
- Zahra is relaying the information to class reps, and the committee is making minutes of their meetings to record the information for future years.
- The committee will be meeting with Tracy soon to discuss budget.
- Monthly meetings are planned, and Parent Council will be updated in progress.
- Committee members are still welcome, and will be asked to commit to monthly meetings and fun work.
- The Update from Faculty was provided by Arlene, who described the activities of several teachers during Feb 9th’s PD day:
- 3 faculty members visited Everlasting Tree School in Six Nations. The school members welcomed our school visitors warmly. The program is full immersion in Kanyen’keha, the students make all their snacks in the school, a cook is on the premises to make lunch for the school. The Trillium visitors were given Wampum as a gesture in beginning our relationship with their school. These gifts will be placed in a special location in the school to honour the relationship between the schools.
- The visitor group will write about the visit, and send this to the school community through the Friday Forget-Me-Not or another communication.
- The Everlasting Tree School members are interested in attending the Trillium Spring Fair, and there are other opportunities for the schools to build this relationship.
- During the PA Day, Mr. Koop visited with a public school (Ross) and shadowed a Grade 9 math teacher.
- Some ECE teachers attended the Spring Valley conference and had an inspiring experience.
10 Healthy School Culture update was provided by Arlene:
- The Social Action Class is continuing once a week and the Grades 7 & 8 students appear to be greatly enjoying the class.
- The Student Support Care Group is made up of the chairs of each of the 3 streams (social care, chaired by Jessica Gladio; behavioural, chaired by Jon Koop; learning support & therapeutic, , chaired by Arlene). In addition, there are 2 coordinators of the group (Arlene & Rob shared previously to work with faculty & parents, respectively; Jennifer sits in on the meetings as well). The group meets every Thursday from 30-60 min. They review any new referrals for any child needing extra support, exchange information, and help plan what stream(s) are to be involved in a student’s individual support plan.
- The volunteer Parent Support Circle has been established, and will work with parents of any students that are receiving social support within the school.
- The once monthly mentorship phone call with Kim John Payne is continuing. These calls allow the group to ask questions, check in regarding the school’s progress, and have discussions related to the program. The program was started in October 2018 and Arlene reports that a lot of ground has been covered.
- Faculty are working with the in-class strategies, and the group is working to maintain consistency throughout the school in these approaches. Tomorrow’s faculty meeting will include full & part-time members, will go through these skills with role-play and discussion. Arlene provided several examples of these strategies:
- Calling-out scale: 1 – right comment/right time; 2 – right comment/wrong time; 3 – wrong comment/wrong time. This information is exchanged between faculty & student privately. This approach helps a student become aware of their own behaviour without shaming the student.
- Disapprove, affirm, discuss, do-over (DADD): when there is behaviour that needs changing. E.g. – a student kicked another child. A faculty member will remind student that we are kind at the school (disapprove), remind the student that he/she is a kind person with an example (affirm), discuss what happened, talk about what the student could do differently in the future (do-over).
- Goals & achievement card: if a student is struggling with a behaviour, the behaviour group will work with the student to write down goals, check in with the child frequently to discuss progress & achievements.
- Buddies – this program is starting by maching an upper-grade student with a younger child that needs support. Instead of sending the child out (to the office) they are sent “to” – will join their buddy in their class. Buddies have been trained in helping the younger student.
Additional discussion regarding the program included:
- A parent asked if the referrals have started already, Arlene answered that they have. Parents would be informed if their child has been referred. Additionally, a support circle will be provided for the parents.
- A parent asked if older children would be paired with a buddy, and this could happen. Another parent asked if older children could be sent to a younger class to help out. This could be investigated in the future, and the older student would likely be paired with a faculty member (e.g. faculty member’s assistant).
- Arlene reports that the faculty are appreciating the program and are fully involved.
- Board update was provided by Aaron and described the current stage of the Strategic Plan Process:
- There is a 2-week break in the Strategic Plan Process to allow for feedback from the community. Feedback will be accepted up until the end of this weekend.
- Next, the 3 subcommittees will resume their meetings to incorporate feedback and prioritize plans.
- Once these meetings are finished (prior to March Break). The overall Strategic Plan committee will then gather to synthesize information from all 3 groups into one document.
- Partnerships of Hope: Aaron read a passage relevant to our school’s stage in the Strategic Plan Process. The group split into partners or small groups to discuss their thoughts on the Strategic Plan.
- Strategic Plan Update: Mary Kate led the group in a discussion regarding the Strategic Plan and asked the group to share their thoughts on the Plan. Feedback is detailed below:
- Several parents discussed how the plan includes many ideas that have been discussed or suggested previously by parents at community meetings, informal discussions, and other venues. Parents are happy to see these ideas being discussed in a more formal context of the Plan.
- Several parents expressed the question of how the ideas will be financed.
- Several parents expressed the question of what on the list is the priority, what part(s) will be focused on first. What are the foundational steps needed before other actions can be taken (e.g., related to the space of the school, what core things need to happen before we can address taking a step into a new option).
- Regarding the priorities, Mary Kate asked parents to get involved in committees. Priorities will be paired with an implementation plan, and interested people will help shape the priorities and actions taken.
- A parent noted that one idea that could be prioritized was related to the Administrative section – specifically the need for someone with IT and HR skills on the staff. Now that the school is needing to fill an Administrative position (Enrolment Coordinator), could there be an opportunity to develop the job description to fit these and other purposes rather than advertise the current job description for the Enrolment coordinator.
- Similarly, a request was voiced that any time a new position or other decision is made, can it be cross-referenced to the Plan then modified to be in accordance to the Plan?
- A parent brought up the media policy part of the Plan, and felt the need for this to be updated as a priority. The parent expressed concern that tech and media is moving at such a fast pace, that previous strategies might not be sufficient.
- A parent asked about integrating Indigenous knowledge into the curriculum, and the background or “why” on this area. How will this be accomplished? This is an important part of the Canadian history and overlap with the curriculum, how is this integrated (in all curriculum, in a block? Which grades?) A member from the Indigenous curriculum study group relayed that this would be further clarified with specifics on what lessons will be modified, what is in place already. The group would like our school be leaders in this area of curriculum development. A parent asked who will be teaching these lessons, or guiding faculty in these areas. Mary Kate discussed how the Strategic Plan is not working out each of these details specifically, but rather put the necessary tools in place to address these items (e.g. committees formed to approach each area and work out the specific details).
- Arlene discussed the Canadian Waldorf working group regarding Indigenous curriculum, and had a discussion with the group today (takes place monthly). Today had a discussion with a member from Everlasting Tree, and many of the discussion points overlapped with parent concerns – how do we work with the curriculum, how do we become informed. To date, the group is starting to make contact with may people and thus far members of Indigenous groups have been involved in discussions on a volunteer basis.
- A parent raised the question of who should be teaching this part of the curriculum. Another parent raised the idea that settlers would not be teaching Indigenous culture, but the teaching would likely be from a perspective of colonialism. The idea is to teach from a whole child perspective, rather than introducing shame in these areas.
- A parent raised the idea that there would be benefit in identifying the ideal number of students per school (from a financial and social perspective – maintain sense of community).
- A parent asked if a cover page could be produced with priorities for the first year (e.g. 400 sq ft new space needed, then more information be included within the document).
- A parent raised the concern regarding growth, when we haven’t achieved certain goals such as accreditation, enough faculty or retained faculty for language subjects. The school hasn’t had a few years of meeting the goals, and should we be getting bigger before these issues are addressed. Responses included that growth could be interpreted as solidifying programs, rather than increasing sizes of the class.
- A parent raised the point that academic excellence is not specifically highlighted in the plan. While this is likely a goal of everyone at the school, this might not have been met previously with certain faculty positions not filled, and the goal does not appear to be explicitly stated within the Plan.
- A parent asked about the ATAP policy – how is this addressed in the Plan? This was brought in many years ago and has been very successful. The program has changed in subtle ways and might be fragile, and a desired sentiment from the meeting was that this is preserved in the Plan. This could be included in a preamble describing the school community and desire to maintain the ATAP.
- A parent expressed the desire to include the school identity within the Plan.
- A parent asked if exit interviews have been done with families that leave the school. These families are part of the community relaying their experience, and the school may not know their feedback. A similar exit interview could occur with staff members.
- A parent asked if the school hosts an alumni event, and this could be added to the alumni committee. Such an event could give current parents a chance to speak with previous students regarding their paths, and their parents. This was previously paired with Spring Fair – alumni came to volunteer and came for an hour prior to the Fair to have a reunion.
ACTION ITEM: communicators to contact alumni committee with this idea.
ACTION ITEM: Kristin to discuss the alumni volunteer/reunion idea with Spring Fair committee.
Other feedback was welcomed, and the community has until the end of the weekend to do this. People are encouraged to go online to complete the feedback form, as this will give the opportunity to give feedback on their satisfaction with the process.
ACTION ITEM: communicators to ask Jennifer to include this deadline and reminder for feedback in the Friday Forget-Me-Not.
- Next meeting is March 7, 2018 at the Common, Open Mic.
Trillium Waldorf School Parent Council Meeting
February 14, 2018, 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Location: Forest Frog Kindergarten, Trillium Waldorf School
- Welcome: Recite opening verse together
“A healthy social life is found when, in the mirror of each human soul the whole community finds its reflection and when, in the community, the virtue of each one is living”
- Land Acknowledgement (Anna)
- Group Introductions
- Acceptance of Minutes from last meeting – changes/amendments (Mary Kate)
- Call for additional Agenda items (Mary Kate)
- Review of previous action items & updates (Mary Kate/Kristin)
- New parents initiative
- A Look Ahead to Upcoming Events (Cheryl & Kristin)
- AED installation & training
- Spring Fair (with updates on previous action items)
- Partnerships of Hope (Stefanie)
- Update from Faculty (TBA)
8:00 – 8:10 – Refreshment/Social Break
- Healthy School Culture update (Rob Helmer)
- Board update (Aaron)
- Strategic Plan Update (Mary Kate)
- Parents to offer feedback on plan
9:00 – Adjournment