Let’s Talk!

It’s hard to believe that it’s already been 2 years since I worked with our then School Council Chair, Alicia Shea, together writing this blog post, titled Let’s Stay Connected . It was in response to conversation during a school council meeting on communication between home and school.

The topic of communication between home and school remains as relevant now as it was then so I thought I would re-affirm our commitment to our parents and students.

While we encourage parents to contact their child’s teacher directly at any time (you can use this staff list from our website) through email or with a quick phone call, we also want to take the initiative to ensure that you are connected with what’s happening in your child’s classroom.

WHEN

As a Woodhaven Middle School parent, you can expect to hear from your child’s teacher a minimum of once per week. While some teachers prefer to send short, brief daily emails, blog posts or remind texts, others prefer to provide you with a summary of the week at either the beginning or end of each week.

WHAT

In these emails, blog posts or remind text messages, you can expect to hear about…

  • what learning is being explored within your child’s classroom
  • when significant assessments (tests, projects, major assignments etc.) are due
  • when these assessments have been returned

Other Thoughts…

As questions or concerns arise throughout the year, you can expect to be contacted by your child’s teacher. This may be through a quick, personalized email or via phone. As you can appreciate, in a middle school classroom teachers deal with small challenges throughout the day. We know it’s part of the job! 🙂 The vast majority of these problems are quickly resolved, typically with small interventions and occasionally requiring small consequences. If challenges persist, or are more significant, or significant consequences are used as part of the problem solving process, you will be invited in to the school to discuss these with your child and his/her learning team.

These sorts of daily challenges that kids face in a middle school of over 600 students also provide an opportunity to help facilitate kids’ problem solving problems. We are happy to take advantage of these opportunities to help our students continue to develop their ability to “Do Right”.

What Else…

You can also expect to receive communication from your child’s teacher or the school with more general information such as the registration process for High School for our Grade 9’s, upcoming Parent/Student/Teacher Conferences and many other events that happen in our busy middle school. While these sorts of events are on our webpage , we try to bring them to your attention directly as well.

I will wrap up by saying, please don’t ever hesitate to give us a call or email, or to make an appointment at the school with any questions or concerns that you have. We are committed to working with you to ensure the learning and well-being of your child.

Sincerely,

Mr. S. Patras

Principal, Woodhaven Middle School

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Celebrating our Kids!

At the previous two Woodhaven Middle School Council meetings, the sometimes controversial topic of awards has come to the forefront. While there are many opinions and views in this area (check out Alfie Kohn or my friend George Couros), this blog post is not intended to discuss the merits or pitfalls of awards, but rather to serve as an explanation of Awards at Woodhaven Middle School for the 2016-17 school year.

With the changes within Spruce Grove and Parkland School Division that occurred between the previous school year and this one, the result has been over half of the 630 students at Woodhaven this year are new to our school! That’s a lot of people who need to know what’s happening 🙂

During the 2015-16 school year significant time and energy was put into the Awards program at Woodhaven Middle School. Staff had multiple conversations about what should be celebrated, how and why. Students were brought together to give their thoughts, and parents were connected to the conversations through School Council meetings. While there will always be room for improvement and change, I have outlined below the awards that will be distributed to our students this June.

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 17 of the 21 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”!

While the list above outlines the formal awards being given out at the end of the school year, it is also important to note that at Woodhaven Middle School we believe that ongoing student recognition is so important to middle school kids. Programs like our Pack Pride weekly citizenship celebration, as well as Athlete of the Month and our Fine Arts Awards are just a few of the other ways in which we celebrate the achievements of our students in an ongoing way.

If you have any questions about awards and student recognition at Woodhaven Middle School, please do not hesitate to contact your child’s homeroom teacher or give me a call.

Until next time…

Mr. S. Patras

Principal, Woodhaven Middle School

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Wrapping up the Year… sort of

It’s hard to believe that we are almost on Christmas break and wrapping up the 2016 year! We know it’s true with the fantastic Christmas Concerts we’ve seen from our band program, our gr 5’s and 6’s performing the Elf and the Shoemaker, and the Senior Choir’s performance this past Tuesday.  So much has happened over the past several weeks at Woodhaven Middle School that it’s hard to keep up.

Earlier this month report cards were issued, (online for the first time) and we were able to have some good conversations with students and parents about the learning of our kids! We appreciate the patience of those parents who had difficulty accessing their child’s report card online and we apologize for the inconvenience.

We have seen the work of our Health Champions, Mr. McLachlan and Mrs. Scheidl continue to move forward. Recently, Mrs. Scheidl has worked with many of our students to form the SWAT team (Student Wellness Action Team) which will provide students with the opportunity to have a positive impact on the health and wellness of kids at Woodhaven Middle School.

Our November School Council meeting again provided an opportunity for parents to provide advice and share their perspectives on many topics ranging from the transition of the Maranatha Christian Program to Woodhaven to online school announcements keeping parents informed of what’s happening. We had a great turn out to this meeting and invite you all to join us for our next meeting on Thursday, January 19th at 6:30 p.m. in our School Library Commons.

We have been fortunate to have an extremely dedicated, small group of parents who are helping to implement our Grab and Go breakfast. For those not familiar with this program, through the generous support of Stony Plain Chrysler, any Woodhaven students who come to school without a healthy breakfast have access to a few healthy snacks. Typically there is fruit and dairy (yogurt or cheese) available to our students.

Also coming soon is our Hot Lunch program. Through the dedication of a small group of parents, we have now been able to form our Parents’ Association, which coordinates this program. You will be hearing more about this early in the new year!

 

Finally, we are truly excited about the Woodhaven Connects projects that our students have undertaken this year. Woodhaven Connects is a service learning project where students in each grade level provide some sort of service to the community. This year our grade 5’s initiated a Door Decorating contest for our school, while the grade 9’s supported several inner city initiatives through the Mustard Seed Church and Hope Mission Shelter.

We are looking forward to building on this great work in 2017!

On behalf of the staff and students of Woodhaven Middle School, I would like to wish each of you a Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday season, with time for family and friends.

Sincerely,

Mr. S. Patras

Principal, Woodhaven Middle School

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Physical Education At Woodhaven Middle School

At Woodhaven Middle School we are proud to offer a strong physical education program to every one of our students! We recognize the numerous benefits of physical activity for adolescents not only on learning, but also for physical and emotional well-being, as well as the opportunity physical education provides to students for development of their social skills.

These are just a few of the reasons why we offer daily physical education to our students. Woodhaven students receive physical education instruction from a dedicated team of experts within our school. Our PE teachers focus exclusively teaching Physical Education to the over 600 students we have in our school! We are proud of their innovative programs such as “Wellness Wednesday” and their incentives such as “Fitness Freak” and “Athlete of the Month” to name just a few. You can find more information about our PE program on their blog.

Providing this daily, high quality programming to our students is not without it’s challenges. Perhaps the most significant challenge is finding the space necessary to provide daily PE to our kids. With only 1 gymnasium to serve 600 students  our team must be very flexible!

This year the structure of PE at Woodhaven is as follows:

  • students in grade 5 E will be divided to join 5A, 5B, 5C & 5D
  • students in grade 6B will be divided to join 6A, 6C, 6D and the Gr 6  MCP PE class
  • students in grade 7D will be divided to join 7A, 7B, 7C and the Gr 7 MCP PE class
  • students in grade 8A will have PE as a group, as will students in Gr 8B. Students within the gr 5 MCP program will also have PE at this time but will not be integrated with the grade 8 students.
  • students in grade 9 (including MCP) will be divided into 2 girls classes and 2 boys classes

Should you have any questions about the structure of our Physical Education program, please do not hesitate to contact your child’s homeroom teacher, Mr. Patras or Mrs. Kronewitt.

We are excited for another great year of fun and development for all of our students.

Sincerely,

Mr. S. Patras

Principal, Woodhaven Middle School

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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!

Twitter!

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

 

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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!

Sincerely,

Mr. S. Patras

Principal, Woodhaven Middle School

 

 

 

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