First Day Questions… Here are Some Answers

With the 2016-17 school year almost upon us, we have had questions from incoming students and parents about class lists and how the first day works at Woodhaven Middle School .

This proves to be an exciting year with new students joining us in grade 5 from both BrookwoodBrookwood and Millgrove School, as well as with the Maranatha Christian Program moving into Woodhaven  and finally, students joining us from Greystone Centennial Middle School with the new attendance areas.

With all of these changes, we would like to help our parents and students understand how the first day at Woodhaven will unfold. As we continue to accept new registrations daily, our class lists continue to require changes and revisions. With that in mind, we will be posting our class lists for students upon their arrival tomorrow. Students in grades 5&6 will find their class lists at the north entrance on the front of the school.

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Students in grades 7-9 will find their class lists posted near the main entrance of the school.

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Staff will be there to help students find their name and their classroom. As students move through the building, teachers will be at their doors guiding them in, with support staff and administration assisting kids and parents along the way :). You can get a sneak peak of where grade level classes are located using this map .

Students will spend the day with their home room teacher and will get to know their classmates and teachers that they will be working with this year. Mrs. Kronewitt and I will be greeting each class during the day and welcoming them to the Woodhaven learning community.

Parents, please don’t hesitate to come in and introduce yourself when you drop your child off. We would love to meet you, as would your child’s teachers. We are looking forward to a fantastic first day for all.

Until tomorrow,

Shaye Patras

Principal, Woodhaven Middle School

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Words of Wisdom…. errr “Advice” for new teachers

I was recently asked to join a panel of Parkland School Division staff to share my “advice” to teachers new to our division. Typically this is a pretty diverse group of people, coming from near and far, with varying levels of experience in the education field already. Some have taught for many years but are new to our division while others are new to the profession and just beginning their journey!  I feel quite honoured to have this opportunity and humbled to be a part of a panel with some great colleagues.

Connect the Dots!

This blog post is an example of connecting the dots. When I started to make some notes about what I might share, I realized that this wasn’t an additional task to complete, but rather an opportunity to connect the dots!

We talk about how much is on the plate of teachers, and the list continues to grow. I have often found that if you can’t find a way to fit new work into what you are already doing you have 2 choices… let the new task go or remove something else! I have long had a goal to find more time to blog but there’s never enough time. I had to make these speaking points anyway so why not work towards my other goal of blogging more! Maybe these thoughts will even benefit someone else 🙂

My message to teachers is connect the dots. Find ways to use your time efficiently by uncovering the connections of your various tasks. If you choose to coach a team, coach students that you might have the opportunity to teach. We all know that relationships are key, coaching is just one more way to form them! Consider asking a colleague to join you as an assistant! Assure them you’ve got the heavy lifting (practice plans, player agreements etc.) but that another adult helping would be appreciated. It’s a great way to build relationships with colleagues! Offer to practice with another team every now and then. Another great way to meet other students and to work with the coach from the other team.

Focus on Your Core Work

You were hired because you are an awesome teacher. You are going to be able to help our students create, learn, explore and take risks. While extracurricular contributions are always welcomed in our schools don’t overcommit. Make sure you have enough time to create learning experiences you are proud of…. then consider if you are able to fit in extracurricular commitments while still ensuring your health and wellness! Don’t put your family and personal life on hold! (I am still working on this one myself!)

Lean on Your Colleagues

We are blessed in Parkland School Division with amazing staff, everyone from our support staff to our Superintendent are here to support you and to make sure you succeed! Your success is a direct result of the success of your students.

I can speak from experience when I say that you will not have to look hard… or at all to find the teacher(s) that will be there to help you. When I arrived in this division 15 years ago we hadn’t finished the first August PD day before Mr. McConnell and Mr. Smithaniuk had approached me and set a meeting to discuss our Science and Math program for the year! I became great friends with them and learned so much from both… we also enjoyed a few practical jokes along the way!

I have worked in several schools in our division as well as our Central Office and have never had to guess who would be helpful… you won’t either! Use these colleagues… someone helped them before and they are now paying it forward 🙂

Whose Your Best Friend?

This one’s so important that I can’t assume everyone knows… It’s not Admin… not the head custodian (though ours is awesome!) … not even that one teacher who was in that school the last time the Oilers made the playoffs… THE SECRETARIES! These ladies are the heart and soul of your school. Ask them for help, ask questions… bring them little treats!

One Last Thought

My advice wouldn’t be complete without giving a shout out to the Lead Team in PSD! Your administrators are there to see your success! Ask us for help… come bounce ideas off us… invite us in to your class, even  especially when you are taking a risk! Access the Learning Services facilitators, your Inclusive Education Lead Teacher, the school Learning Coach or anyone else on the leadership team! Parkland School Division works hard to develop leadership many staff members. Access them all!


I can t believe I almost forgot this one! Get on Twitter! It’s a great way to connect with other professionals. If you feel like you don’t have time, you can “lurk” 🙂

I would love to hear from others what advice you would give… maybe I will have the chance again sometime in the future :)!

Shaye Patras

Principal, Woodhaven Middle School


Posted in Developing and Facilitating Leadership, Embodying Visionary Leadership, Engage our Staff, Fostering Effective Relationships, Leading a Learning Community, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

3 Quick Tips For Our New Families..and Great Reminders For Our Current Ones

Another school year is approaching quickly and with it comes much excitement… and many questions 🙂

We are excited to welcome so many new students and families to the Woodhaven learning community  from Greystone Centennial Middle School, Brookwood School, Millgrove School, and from Broxton Park School with the Maranatha Christian Program.

With all of these changes upon us, I would like to share with our new families, and perhaps remind our current ones of a few helpful features within our learning community that will help make your middle school experience just a bit more easier.

  1. Communication through technology!

At Woodhaven Middle School we are committed to keeping our families informed of what’s happening in our school. You can connect with us in so many ways, a few of which are listed below.

  • Get texts from the “Did You Know” Remind account for Woodhaven Middle School
    • Text (587) 316-1097 – your number is completely confidential. Type in the message screen “@didyouknow”  and you will be automatically registered.  It’s that easy!
  • The Woodhaven Middle School Website – here you can find everything from staff contact information to daily announcements. Yup you heard me correctly. We post our announcements for the day on our website. It’s a great way to keep connected with what’s happening!
  • The Woodhaven Middle School Facebook Page – updates on what’s going on with the Pack!
  • Follow us on Twitter too!
  • Check out the Physical Education Blog – updates on PE activities, extra curricular sports teams
  • Ask your child’s teacher how they intend to communicate with you

Definitely do not hesitate to call us or to arrange an appointment. Nothing takes the place of sitting down and talking about our kids together!

2. Not quite 7-11.

While we aren’t exactly open 24 hours, access to our school is available after school until approximately 6 p.m. on most nights as we have sports happening in our gym daily! Don’t let your middle schooler tell you (s)he forgot his homework!

3. School Council.

You will not be asked to sell anything! We are extremely fortunate to have 2 separate, dedicated groups of amazing parents. One is dedicated to fundraising and is, of course, always willing to accept more help but our School Council meets monthly. If you choose to attend, you have an opportunity to hear what’s happening at our school, speak with our Trustees and administration and have input into our school. Consider attending a meeting in the future 🙂 Dates are on our school sign board, our website and information comes home monthly regarding these meetings.

We are excited that you have joined our learning community and look forward to spending time with your and your child. Please come in and introduce yourself. We would love to meet you!


Mr. S. Patras

Principal, Woodhaven Middle School




Posted in Embodying Visionary Leadership, Engage our Community, Engage Our Students, Fostering Effective Relationships, Leading a Learning Community | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Students Leading the Change

While middle school can bring with it some unique challenges, it also presents exciting opportunities along the way that just don’t exist in the early years. I was reminded of this recently when a small group of students left me a letter outlining why they believed the “No Hat” rule at Woodhaven Middle School should be removed.

Within the letter the students outlined several reasons they believed it was time to permit hats during school. One which I found quite interesting was their perspective that the first thing they hear from staff upon arriving at school is “Good morning, please remove your hat”. They explained that it doesn’t start the day off on the best foot for them when their first interaction with adults is giving them an “order”.

To further examine the process, I asked these students to come meet with me and discuss. After our conversation, they committed to creating a presentation for our school’s Design Team (a team of teacher leaders that meets to discuss learning within Woodhaven Middle School). About a month later, they came and used this presentation to further their cause.

As you can see from the presentation, the kids made some pretty strong arguments for a reasonable request. For example, they asked “Are hats truly a sign of respect in today’s day and age? ” As I sit here writing this post I am wearing a hat! I’ve had more conversations with parents wearing hats than I can count, but I’ve never asked them to remove their hats.

The design team posed several questions to them, one of which really stuck with me. One member asked if students would take hats off during presentations, to which the student responded “probably not“. When pushed a bit further as to why explained that on our recent career day, one of the Keynote speakers was wearing a hat!

The students did such a great job explaining their perspective that we took the conversation to our entire staff, who after a lot of conversation, agreed that it was probably time to let this outdated practice go. The next step was a conversation with our School Council, where we again shared the student presentation and discussed. We arrived at the same conclusion as the staff had a week earlier.

We have now arrived at the place where students are permitted to wear hats at Woodhaven Middle School. The change to this practice is really nothing worth writing a blog over, but the process of students leading change is one that I am proud of for these students!

Until next time…

Mr. S. Patras

Principal, Woodhaven Middle School



Posted in Engage our Community, Engage our Staff, Engage Our Students, Fostering Effective Relationships, Leading a Learning Community | Leave a comment

Awards at Woodhaven Middle School

We have been discussing awards and their purpose in the Woodhaven learning community for the past several months. It’s been a good, eye opening conversation in so many ways.

I’ve heard from parents how they still remember being excluded from an award in their school days and how they have had to have hard conversations with their children if they did not receive an award that they had anticipated receiving.

Then there’s the discussion around student recognition vs awards, and what place each has in our education system today. While we have tried to further develop our student recognition through initiatives such as our “Pack Pride” program, awards still have a place within our learning community and require some conversation.

We know that we have not solved the problem of creating the perfect awards program but we have taken a significant amount of time throughout this year to continue to try to refine and improve awards at Woodhaven Middle School.

The staff at Woodhaven Middle School took in all of the feedback from last year that we received from parents and students. One of the most common concerns brought forward was with respect to students who received an award previously (for example for citizenship) but did not receive it the next year. The question posed was

“How was my child a great citizen last year, but is no longer considered a model citizen this year?”

This, and many other good questions, brought forth much conversation with teachers, parents, administration and students. Through this conversation, we arrived at several conclusions – one of which is that we had not done a good enough job communicating with our students and parents what our intentions were for our awards program prior to the celebration.  This blog post is just one way in which we are working to provide further clarification and conversation around our awards.

To further refine and improve our awards program at Woodhaven Middle School for the 2015-16 school year we had significant discussion with many stakeholders. Staff discussed the purpose of awards, the relationship between student recognition and awards, how our current program fit those purposes, what some of the challenges were with our current system and how to proceed.

Probably the most common challenge identified was that awards were becoming less meaningful because staff, students, and some parents felt that just about every student received an award. This was an interesting revelation because after discussing awards with staff, I met with students to gather their feedback. I asked teachers at each grade level to provide me with 2 or 3 students who would be confident enough to contribute to a conversation on awards. I did not exclusively want students who are typically our awards recipients. I was looking for a cross section of students who represented our whole school population… and I certainly got it!

I facilitated a discussion over a pizza lunch with these students to hear what they thought. They had a lot of great ideas and feedback but they also identified that some awards had little or no meaning because they felt that everyone received one. They also said that medals are really important to them… I am glad I asked because I had no idea!

I took the student feedback and went back to staff. We created a small committee to try to rework our current awards structure to reflect parent feedback, the student perspective and our thoughts as well. I then met again with our students to gather more thoughts as we continued to make revisions to the program. During this journey I shared with school council that we were working through this process and information would be coming. Parents provided a few more thoughts during these conversations which we were able to incorporate as well.

We have been back and forth between students and staff several times throughout this process making revisions and gathering feedback. At our previous school council meeting I shared with our parents where we had arrived. After some great conversation I was able to take just a bit more feedback to our awards committee where they made some final changes.

It’s been a long, thorough process, but one that was certainly necessary for our learning community. While we know that as reflective practitioners we are going to need to seek out feedback again after this year and make further revisions, we are pleased that we have been able to gather feedback and use that to guide our discussion and work.

The results of this process are demonstrated with the awards outlined below.

Woodhaven Middle School Awards 2016-17

Academic Excellence

Students who receive this award have demonstrated a deep understanding of learning across the four academic core subject areas (Math, Science, Social Studies and English Language Arts). They are engaged and dedicated learners who have achieved Exemplary as a cumulative mark in at least 21 of the 26 process skills in these subject areas.

Learn How To Learn

Students receiving the Learn How To Learn award have exceeded the high expectations that their teachers have for them. These students have become engaged in the learning process and have demonstrated extraordinary growth in realizing their full potential for learning in all core subject areas.

Leader of the Pack

Students receiving the Leader of the Pack award have achieved academic success and demonstrated outstanding citizenship.  These students have not only met the criteria for either the Academic Excellence award or the Learning How To Learn award but have also been positive role models within our Woodhaven community.  These students have demonstrated a willingness to share their leadership qualities in both formal and informal ways, to give of their time through volunteering and to show respect for the property and environment of our school.  They have represented Woodhaven, and themselves, with great pride.

Athletic Do Right Award

The Athletic Do Right Awards are presented to students who have represented Woodhaven as an ambassador in inter-school athletics.  These students in grades 7-9 have played on a minimum of 3 school teams and in grades 5 and 6 have played on a minimum of 2 school teams.  These school teams include cross country, volleyball, basketball, badminton, track (at the County level) soccer and/or competed in the annual golf tournament.

Pam Plourde Award

The Pam Plourde Award recognizes students who serve our school through outstanding citizenship at all times. These students support staff, parents and fellow students throughout the year, in a variety of ways and expect nothing in return. Students receiving the Pam Plourde award are extraordinary, selfless representatives of the Woodhaven learning community.   They consistently go above and beyond the high expectations of students at Woodhaven Middle School to give to others and exemplify the expectation to always “Do Right”!

I look forward to seeing many of our parents at our Awards Celebration in June!


Mr. S. Patras

Principal, Woodhaven Middle School


Posted in Engage our Community, Engage our Staff, Engage Our Students, Fostering Effective Relationships, Leading a Learning Community, Providing Instructional Leadership | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Moving Forward :)

As most Spruce Grove parents are aware, many students will be attending new schools in the 2016-17 school year. With the opening of the Prescott Learning Centre in September 2016, and a second new school in September 2017 we are excited for the relief for our overfilled school in the future 🙂

With this great opportunity comes the work of ensuring effective transitions for all of the students who are moving schools.  At Woodhaven Middle School, we have been facilitating smooth transitions for our students for years.  There have been many structures and processes put in place to help our students and parents transition into Woodhaven Middle School in Grade 5 (as well as out of Grade 9 and into High School for Grade 10).

Parents, students and staff have been very pleased with that process for the past several years.  We remain committed to reaching this high level of satisfaction not only for our new arrivals in grade 5, but also for any other new arrivals in grades 6-9 and for our Maranatha Christian Program students, staff and parents.

In order to ensure smooth transitions for our students, we have been working closely with the other Spruce Grove Schools for the past few months developing a plan to support these transitions. This post will provide you with just a few of the upcoming events and activities intended to support students and parents through this process. If you have questions about anything you read here please don’t hesitate to email your school principal or call your child’s current school. We are excited to continue our work with you!

What’s Happening?

Spring League – Spring League began on April 12th and is open to students in grades 4-6. Spring League offers a great opportunity not only for kids to develop their basketball skills, but equally as important is the chance to get to know each other and the PE teachers and admin! Many students in grade 4 are currently enjoying this fun-filled opportunity 🙂

Grade 4 student meet and greet – on May 2nd, Greystone Centennial Middle School principal, Mrs. Darla Senkow and I will have a few of our current grade 5 students join us to visit Millgrove, Brookwood and Ecole Broxton Park School. We are excited for this first opportunity to meet some of our new students coming into grade 5, as well as to give our current gr 5 students an opportunity to share what the Middle School world looks like! Teachers from these schools have already been asking their students what questions they would like us to answer for them. The range of questions has been impressive! We have everything from:

Can we decorate our lockers?


What extra activities do you have for students?

Parent Student Orientation Evening – Woodhaven & Greystone are going to be busy places on Tuesday, May 3rd. This evening will provide an opportunity for students and parents who are new to their school for the 2016-17 school year to connect with school administration, school counselors and the teaching staff. It will serve as a great opportunity to begin to get to know each other and to put faces to names. Please note that there has been a change for those students attending Prescott in 2016-17. This orientation will take place in August at Prescott Learning Centre, with additional details to come. Please refer to your child’s placement letter which was recently sent home with your child to ensure you attend the appropriate Orientation location. If you have any questions about this, do not hesitate to contact your child’s current school.

In order to provide the best opportunity for all to meet and greet, we have created the following schedule for our Orientation Evenings.

6:00-7:00 p.m. – Grade 5 students and parents. Let’s learn about Middle School together 🙂

7:00 – 8:00 p.m. – Families and students in grades 6-8 who are new to their school (including MCP families new to Woodhaven Middle School).

Wolfpack Student for a morning – is another great opportunity for our kids. On Wednesday, May 18th from approximately 9 – 11 a.m., Gr 4 students joining WHMS for gr 5 in 2016-17 partner up with current Gr 5 students and learn what it’s like to be a member of “the pack”! We will be excited to welcome our new students from Brookwood, Millgrove and the Maranatha Christian Program. Students will move through learning activities in the morning, meet staff and administration at our school and work with our current grade 5 students to get know the culture of Woodhaven Middle School from a kids’ perspective!

Grade 6-8 School Visits – are also coming soon. On Monday, May 16th students moving into grades 6-8 at Woodhaven or Greystone who are transitioning to a different school in 2016-17 will be visiting their new school. This will be a great opportunity for kids to meet others who will be joining them, to start to build friendships and to re-connect with staff and administration in these schools. It’s going to be a busy and exciting day for all of our students. Students will be bused to the school that they will be attending next year for these visits. Students attending Prescott School will be completing their visit at Greystone.

As you can see, there’s a lot happening to support the transition of our students in Spruce Grove. If you have any questions or would like to share information about your child that will support us as we continue to work towards next year, please do not hesitate to contact your child’s current Principal. We look forward to hearing from you 🙂


Mr. S. Patras

Principal, Woodhaven Middle School







Posted in Engage our Community, Engage our Staff, Engage Our Students, Fostering Effective Relationships, Leading a Learning Community | Leave a comment

Coming and Going!

The past few weeks with “The Pack” has been really busy. While I typically focus on what’s happening within our school, this post is going to touch on two exciting opportunities where our students are learning through experiences beyond our walls.

We are really proud of our Show Choir, who under the guidance of Ms. Young and Ms. Weimer, have traveled to Anaheim to perform on the main stage at Disneyland! THey have been rehearsing for months and are sure to be fantastic!

Show Choir

Show Choir In AnaheimA Fun MealI can’t wait to hear the stories from our students, parent chaperones and staff from this trip. What a great opportunity for our kids to learn and to share their amazing talents!

While one group heads south, we have a second group of students moving West. With Mr. Bradshaw and Ms. Foster leading the way, over 20 dedicated runners hit the road for the Vancouver Sun Run. I’ve done the trip several times with the Parkland Sun Runners and know from experience that it will be a great time!

I am really proud of our Sun Run team. These kids have been training for months, many of them are not avid runners but wanted the experience.

Until next time…

Shaye Patras

Principal, Woodhaven Middle School

Posted in Engage our Community, Engage Our Students, Fostering Effective Relationships, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment