Monday, October 6, 2014

One month into the Principalship...!!!

Very few people are as fortunate as I to walk into a school and take over a principalship of a good school. And it's not only me saying this. We are hearing this from all over. With volleyball session in full swing and parents and students coming from other schools in the region,  it's amazing how many people rave about the canteen we have in the school, or how clean the school is, or what a great gym we have. This speaks highly of the caretakers we have, who work so hard to maintain the school, and the students, who are very respectful when it comes to treating the school and equipment properly. Our students are great ambassadors for Bassano when they go to other schools as well. We are very proud of them. Not only are they playing well, but their character is showing through as well.

So not only do I have a great school to work at because of the facility, but the students are fantastic. Those that know me know that I like to be visible in the school. I sit with students at lunch and visit. It's all about relationships that we form with students. I've always said, and I don't have any research to back me up, but experience tells me that 80% of learning is about relationship. If teachers don't have relationships with students and just come into a class and push content out to students, it will fail. But when you take time to get to know students and show them you care, you've created an environment for students to feel safe and want to learn. I don't want to be Mr. Hill to the students for the rest of my life, I want to that principal that they can say cared for them, and I hope they can call me Vince one day too.

I'm convinced that a major reason parents don't always trust schools and struggle with supporting any school is because of their own experiences as a student. And some schools have earned that reputation fairly. But here at Bassano School, I have made it my vision and mission to ensure that student feels safe, appreciated and empowered to exceed their potential. Pipe dream? I think not. So that means, as a School, we need to builds relationships at home with parents. I hope that we can start with a clean slate with parents, who have felt isolated and distrustful of what schools may have done in the past. We need to work together and make this right.

On that note, I have a huge request. I am convinced that we need to be extremely proactive addressing literacy or reading with students. As a former English teacher, I believe we can never read enough to our children, with our children, and for our children. You notice that I added "for our children." Reading isn't just a student activity. We need to model for our children the importance of reading. I read all the time; my wife reads all the time. Reading is important. I came across this image and quote on it the other day that said, Follow the path a great book leads you on. It always leads to a more open mind! Parents, Grandparents, Uncles, Aunts, please read with our children. For their sake and their future, everyone needs to read with our students. This isn't just the schools job as I've heard some people say. I want to get the Home Reading Program going again. So in the near future, we will send out information about this program. I also want to hold Parent Information nights that will teach strategies to parents giving them the tools to help their child become the best readers possible.

Finally, the staff we have are great. I've worked in and supervised a lot of schools. We have a staff that works hard. They put in a lot of extra hours over and above the regulars hours. I am very honoured to be counted as one of the staff with these folks. Think of all the time they put in driving students to games and tournaments on the weekend. Or the volunteering for school dance night. Or planning fundraisers like Terry Fox Run, or SRC Magazine Fundraiser. This is all extra time they give to our students. They still have to prepare for their classes and teach. They show up at 7:30 AM for a professional development session because they are not done learning themselves. They are always looking for ways to be more effective teachers and education assistants. I'm impressed.

So what can you do to help. I'm glad you asked. Come to Parent Council meetings to learn in more detail the happenings at the school. We are always looking for volunteers, drivers for school sports events, and more. We encourage community members to come in and visit and see what's happening for themselves. We are also in early talks with Medicine Hat College about bringing post-secondary programming to Bassano and offering them in the evenings and weekends. Also, Newell Further Education is offering more programs in the school as well. Check out our website (www.bassanoschool.ca) regularly for updates, sign up for the monthly newsletter, follow us on Twitter, @bassanoschool.

That's it for this month. Thanks for listening!
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