The Face of Celebration

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The year is over. Our students are gone. Soon, the banner for our year-end art exhibit ‘Celebration’ will be taken down from the front of the school.

But the celebrating hasn’t stopped for me.

We have plenty to celebrate this year: our 25th anniversary; amalgamation with St. Georges Nursery School; the addition of 14 terrific new colleagues; and big inroads on our plan to establish a high school. These are achievements worthy of celebration, but right now they aren’t what come to mind.

Working on final report cards immerses me in the faces and stories of our students. This celebration has a face, many faces in fact. It has one for every student, and one for every teacher standing by their side. I’m celebrating:

  • the SK students who started the year unable to read, and who ended it reading in front of the school at our final assembly
  • all the students who made huge gains in their reading skills thanks to their teachers and our new efforts with Direct Instruction
  • the new students who started the year struggling in various skills or lacking in confidence, now working alongside their peers ready for their next grade, head held high
  • the dozens of students who chose to seize challenges like the Caribou Mathematics Competition because they welcomed the chance to be pushed to their intellectual limits
  • all the students who work their hardest in academics, arts, athletics and citizenship, day in and day out
  • two students who persisted in writing a book with our YAKCS program, and will have them published over the summer
  • the students who took their first steps in leadership this year, and the many other dozens who have used their leadership skills to make KCS and the world a better place
  • the students who tried out for sports they’d never played before, and the students who had the courage to perform for the first time ever at Wake Up With the Arts this year
  • those who earned banners; ribbons; public-speaking, science and math awards; Four Doors Awards; and year-end trophies
  • those who didn’t win, who weren’t chosen for a team, who struggled with schoolwork or with a friendship, and who faced each day anew, ready to try again, and seeing things get better and better as a result
  • and all those who acted with empathy, who held the door for others, who heartily welcomed visitors and who made evident their enthusiasm for life and learning at KCS.

There sure is a lot to celebrate this year. What’s most worth celebrating are our students and all they’ve been through, and grown from, thanks to their efforts and those of their teachers. Their work isn’t done, of course, nor is ours. But parents, when you receive your child’s report card in the mail, try to imagine how much your child has embraced learning, thought flexibly, created, shared what they know, persisted, made a difference and more. Think about their full story. Then look at their face, and celebrate.

Andrea Fanjoy,
Assistant Head, Academics
You can follow Andrea on Twitter @afanjoy.

Exams Got You Down? Just PAUSS

The following blog first appeared one year ago. It’s as relevant now as it was then. We all face challenges from time to time, and how we face them makes all the difference. That’s where the KCS Habits come in.

At KCS, it’s our mission to develop lifelong learners with the habits to face and embrace life’s challenges. Many of our students and parents have an extra one of those challenges on their plate right now.

Exams.

Students in grades 6-8 write exams starting January 28th. Love them or dislike them (yes, we’ve had students say they love them!), learning to prepare for and take exams is a challenge we all have to face at some point. Starting them in grade six, with ample guidance and time learning how to prepare, is the best way to start. Though a big deal, exams at KCS are also a safe opportunity to face this challenge, ‘try your best’, and learn from mistakes.

Looking at our Habits poster in my office Friday morning, I wondered which of the habits students should focus on to be successful preparing for exams. Five stood out. When written down, it became clear they made for a nice little acronym – a beacon for calm in the storm of stress that often surrounds the ‘e’ word. The acronym is PAUSS. The habits are:

Persist – this is a marathon, not a sprint

Adapt – old patterns of studying and time management likely need to change

Use past learning – use notes and old tests; use strategies that you already know to work, and avoid those that you know don’t

Show self-control – stick to the study plan; focus on the task; remember to also rest, eat well and get exercise

Strive for accuracy – follow the study keys, test yourself, aim to understand any errors

Exams inherently stir up anxiety. PAUSS, happily, does not.

If your child is writing exams, encourage them to PAUSS. And watch with pride as your child develops habits that matter. Take heart. Dread will soon be replaced with delight, and doubt will be replaced by well-earned confidence. And the unknown challenges to come will face a tougher foe.

Our People + Effort = Successful Change

Last week we announced our proposed amalgamation with St. George’s on-the-Hill Nursery School (SGNS).  The faculty and staff of both schools reacted to the announcement with a positive mixture of excitement and anticipation as we tackle our future together.  Both organizations understand the benefits of amalgamation.  I really didn’t expect anything less.  And here’s why.

I joined KCS back in September 1999 as the grade 8 homeform teacher.  At that time I taught history, Language Arts and geography to our grade 7 and 8 students.  In 1999, KCS had one class in each grade, and we had approximately 150 students in the school.  Our  staff was about 25 people, a number of whom still teach at KCS today.  Halfway through my first year, I was happy with my decision to join the KCS team.  Even then, I knew this was a great school.

Over the past fourteen years, KCS has grown to 317 students and 46 faculty and staff.  The school has faced many opportunities and challenges along the way – some planned for, others unanticipated.  We’ve opened two additions to the school, one in March 2003, and one in December 2009.  Those of you who have lived through a renovation know the inconveniences you have to live with during construction. We have managed our school through an economic recession and a flood in February 2010 that closed six of our classrooms for an extended period of time.  Through each opportunity or challenge, I’ve watched the people at KCS listen, ask questions and propose solutions, and then get to work to make sure KCS comes out the other side a better school.  And importantly because of that can-do, positive attitude, we’ve created many memories and had many laughs along the way.  I know that the people at SGNS have had to face similar opportunities and challenges over that same time period that they have successfully dealt with.

Change either succeeds or fails due to the efforts of the people involved.  Based on past experience at KCS, I am confident that the people at SGNS and KCS will all grow and learn together as we amalgamate the two schools at this exciting time.  We have responded successfully to opportunities in the past, and I feel the future will be no different.  In fact, with such a positive outlook with the faculty and staff of both schools, I am certain we will be better together.   We are excited for the outcome of the vote at both upcoming AGMs, which will put a stamp of approval on this project and enable us to move forward.

Derek Logan
Head of School