Superintendent’s Update

Posted On Friday March 08, 2024

Dear Parents and Caregivers:

As we enter the last week before Spring Break, students continue to thrive by taking part in learning opportunities that support their intellectual, social, emotional, and personal development. These are only some of the good news stories emerging in our district, and I am grateful to learn about them from students, parents, and staff.

Haldane Elementary School

Principal Topolovec and I first stopped in Ms. Stengel’s Gr. 1-2 class where the students were engaged in a body break and shared how much they loved the “growing tower” (growing herbs in the classroom in a portable tower) supported by the Parent Advisory Council. Ms. Hebert was leading a small group to engage in “emotions bingo” where she would share an emotion and they would locate it on their bingo card.

Students were also excited about their personal goal-setting that is displayed in the classroom. One example is a student’s “wall of words” that showed how the student progressed to learn 100 vocabulary words. Every student also has a display that shows the year that they graduate. This form of positive vision-setting for the future is a proven strategy to create hope.  Ms. Stallard’s Gr. 3-4 class was engaged in a game known as Lahal, which is a guessing game that involves two teams seated across from one another. Lahal is also called the Bone Game because the game pieces that are hidden in the player’s hands were traditionally made from small animal bones that were carved or marked in some way. The students enjoyed the learning of language, traditional songs, and engaging in a positive way.

Ms. Jacobson’s accessibility project is one that I had written about in an earlier update because it was so compelling. This was my first opportunity to meet two students, Pyper and Flynn, who had taken an active role in this project.  They each described what they learned by being in a wheelchair and testing out the accessibility inside and outside of their school. They found the playground to be the hardest to access due to the elevation of the grassy hills and then the “bumps” to get over from the ground into the playground.

Pyper explained that another problem is the height of basketball hoops. She and Flynn decided to encourage the class to raise funds to buy wheelchair accessible basketball hoops. The class has raised three times their goal, and they have colored in a money meter in the hallway to keep the school community informed of their progress. Paralympian Greg Stewart supported their initiative by donating $500. 

Student presenters from multiple classes that have now joined this project showed their cardboard models of different spaces in the school that they had traveled through in their wheelchairs. For example, they analyzed the accessibility of bathrooms for those in a wheelchair. To verbally and visually describe their experiences, they designed the spaces out of cardboard to scale. The students created wheelchairs within these spaces to show how the bathroom sinks, as one example, are at the wrong height, and how the taps and towel dispensers are difficult to reach. The tiled floors made it hard to maneuver the tight corners within the bathrooms. This project compelled the students to seek out spaces that are accessible to gain even more ideas for how to transform their school spaces to be more inviting, welcoming, and inclusive for everyone.

We ended our tour in Ms. Kreutzer’s class, and she shared how she and the other staff are committed to the Science of Reading. Students study phonetics and use decodable readers to gain fluency. She has been working collaboratively with staff to develop a common language and practice of implementing individual and small group reading strategies that are making a positive difference to students’ reading achievement.

Chase Secondary School

Principal Gartrell and I started by reviewing one of their school goals – “Our goal is to make school an inviting, safe space for students and one where they are engaged and want to come every day.” In semester one, students took part in a literacy block daily, and they had a pilot project in which students who required specific interventions had support to improve. They have two Learning Assistance Resource Teachers who have learned how to apply research-based reading strategies, which started because of Literacy Coordinator Carson’s involvement in a pilot to build capacity to teach reading last year. The staff and students have witnessed increased literacy and attendance because of this focus on improving student engagement in reading.

We started our classroom visit by first stopping in to see Fran, who is a wonderful cook and is infamous for inviting long lineups at the cafeteria. When I asked her what her secret is, she shared, “I ask the kids and make them what they tell me they feel like. Today, it was baked spaghetti.”

As we continued our visits, Ms. Stallard’s Gr. 9-12 class was studying Secwepemctsin. Mr. Lehman was teaching Gr. 11-12 French. Mr. Kanigan was working with multiple students in a blended Math class where he had students who were taking @KOOL courses and he offered help on their independent work, and others who were completing courses and required assistance. Mr. Brake’s Gr. 7 class was studying electric motor models and one student explained to me how an electric motor worked. We then visited Mr. Gilowski and Ms. Johnston who were supporting students in the Learning Assistance Resource room.

We concluded our visit in a video conference class where five students were participating in Pre-Calculus 12 being taught in Clearwater with Barriere students joining at the same time. I spoke with a couple of students about how they felt they could learn best in a video conference class. One student said, “Pretty well. I can ask questions if I need to know something.” Another student admitted, “I do well when I come, but I have missed a bit too much.” One suggestion was to keep a bank of video-recorded VC lessons to support students who could not attend. One of the students said, “I have found other classes online of the same course, but it would be good to have this class recorded.”

Vice Principal Lowe shared, “We are branding our school shirts with team logos and Indigenous acknowledgements such as “Le Estcwicwéy? (the missing). Principal Gartrell added, “We have stickers and t-shirts to build a community.” As we ended our visit, Principal Gartrell showed me how he writes his newsletters using “Sway”, which is a platform that enables parents to see pictures, videos, and portfolios that are widely accessed.

Westsyde Secondary- Celebrating Success

SD73 Curling Teams at Provincials.  Westsyde Secondary Girls became the Provincial Champions and Norkam Boys took home Bronze.

Thank you to Ms. Kendra Hallstrom for cheering on these teams and sharing pictures.

Celebrating Good News in Brock

Multiple groups experience success doing what they love in Brock. Grade 8 boys are City Champs and earned a spot in the Provincials. Mr. LeClerc’s students went to the Skills Canada competition and experienced success in the following competitions: VEX (Gold: Sebastion Davies and Eathen Connor Brisson; Silver: Johnathon Varty and Phoenix Winchester) and Spaghetti Bridge (Silver: Alyssa Smith, Ariana Grosse Bronze: Casey Henderson).

Leadership students, Lasha Shantz, Jillian Marrington, Abidemi Jilani, Brooklynn Burnette, and Cassandra Choy planned and baked all the treats to host a bake sale at the end of January to raise awareness and funds to support BC Children's Hospital.  Over the two days of selling, they were able to raise $358 from their baked goodies. The leadership class supported them and helped to top up the funds to make it an even $400 donation.  Principal Perry shared, “These students are a ‘beaming example’ of our Brock values with their display of Compassion, Courage and Curiosity."

Discover Day: Rocky Mountaineer – March 7, 2024

In the 2022-2027 District Strategic Plan, we prioritize students’ development of their passions, interests, and their potential career pathways. Rocky Mountaineer recently hosted a Discover Day for students to gain insights into train operations and mechanics. Read more.

Thank you for all that you do to support your children to thrive through curricular and extracurricular learning opportunities (District Mission). I hope that you have plans for Spring Break and that this week brings you the joy of learning and anticipation of a well-deserved break for those who are taking one. For those who work during the break, it is a time of appreciating the change of pace to focus on tasks and appreciate being able to complete them.

Have a wonderful weekend.


Rhonda Nixon, PhD


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