École Meridian Heights
School (K–9)

Assurance Report

2017-2018 Assurance Report

Principal: Cheryl Johnson
School Council Chair: Ninon Bjur

Vision: Parkland School Division is a community of engaged learners where exploration, creativity and imagination make learning exciting and where all learners aspire to reach their dreams.

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Background
Inclusive Education
Quality Learning
Culture of Wellness
Universal Leadership
Engagement/Communication
Resource Stewardship

Background

As a member of the Parkland School Division family of schools, École Meridian Heights School utilizes a robust Assurance Model to understand stakeholder feedback better. Working with an Assurance Model means that Meridian Heights, Parkland School Division and the Board of Trustees actively seek to reveal all avenues for stakeholders to tell us how we are attending to our goals and priorities. One important part of our Assurance Model is deriving stakeholder feedback through insightful comments made by parents, staff, community members and students.

Meridian Heights continuously gathers feedback from a variety of sources, including students, parents, staff, the school division and the greater community. In addition to surveys, conferences and day-to-day conversations, our school also uses an online assurance process called ThoughtExchange that enables participants to read and rank responses based on three questions:

  • What are some concerns you have about our school this year?
  • What are some things you appreciate about our school this year?

The Meridian Heights Assurance Report captures the strengths, opportunities, aspirations and expected results that we gathered throughout last year. In keeping with an Assurance Model, this report provides the narrative for our achievements and challenges, and is presented on our school website.

Strengths are highlighted as areas that are working well in Meridian Heights. In our commitment to quality learning, we recognize that there will always be room for growth. We are proud of the strengths and accomplishments you have recognized in the work we do.

Opportunities are areas for growth or attention. As a school, we recognize these as areas in which we need to focus more attention, and we see that these areas are also important to you.

Aspirations are presented as priorities for a preferred future. Our stakeholders have shared a vision for where we need to go and what our world will look like when we’ve mastered our strengths and eliminated areas in need of growth.

Results capture expectations for measuring success. In other words, how will we know that we know we are successful?

In 2015-2016, Parkland School Division’s Board of Trustees approved an ambitious Education Plan that was generated through the Assurance Model. The Plan established enduring strategic processes (enduring priorities) that will always be considered in the generation of strategies (forward-thinking actionable plans). These strategies enable us to achieve our outcomes (goals).

Parkland School Division’s Ultimate Goal is Student Success and Well-Being. Students will be encouraged to explore, create, imagine and engage in lifelong learning as they develop competencies that prepare them to enter the world of post-secondary studies or work. The Division believes that student success is closely linked to student well-being and the development of social-emotional assets that build resiliency, and is therefore committed to the development of the whole child at all levels of their education. The goals, outcomes, priorities and strategies identified in the Education Plan are focused on the achievement of the Ultimate Goal: Student Success and Well-Being.

Two enduring priorities continue to guide the work of the Division. These priorities are considered to be enduring since they are necessary priorities to consider in establishing any goal:

The Enduring Priority of Engagement: Engaging all stakeholders: students, staff, and the local and global communities. Goals and strategies must include a consideration of how they will be shared and supported by all stakeholder groups.

The Enduring Priority of Resource Stewardship: Ensuring equitable and sustainable use of our resources and ensuring financial responsibility. Goals and strategies must include a consideration of how they will utilize limited resources with maximum results.

In addition to the enduring priorities listed above, the 2015-2018 Three Year Education Plan includes the goals necessary to achieve student success and well-being:

Inclusive Education: Parkland School Division is an inclusive education system. An inclusive education system is one that demonstrates behaviours and decisions that reflect valuing all students. The Division is committed to achieving this goal and to fulfilling the provincial mandate for inclusion.

In Parkland School Division, everyone is accepted and experiences a sense of belonging. Every student - no matter their ability, disability, language, cultural background, religion, sexual orientation and gender identity - has meaningful contributions to make.

Using the programs of study as the framework for learning, every student is engaged in meaningful and authentic ways. All students are treated equitably: they get the support needed when they need it, and for the intensity and duration of time for which they need it.

Quality Learning: Student success and well-being depends on quality instruction in an atmosphere that respects each learner’s independent spirit. Quality teaching practices promote the development of innovation and creativity while attending to meaningful assessment and reporting practices.

Quality Learning builds on the Division’s Inclusive Education goal in that all students are connected to the Programs of Study and all students have the supports and educational quality necessary to achieve success.

Culture of Wellness: Parkland School Division is committed to Student Success and Well-Being. The Division recognizes that, as a system, well-being must be present for all stakeholders, and therefore it is committed to fostering physical literacy, lifelong health and well-being at all levels. The Division believes that student success is closely linked to student well-being and the development of social-emotional assets that build resiliency.

The development of citizenship and social responsibility contribute to wellness and are integral to the delivery of a broad and comprehensive program of studies. We are dedicated to the development of the whole child.

Universal Leadership: Student success and well-being requires collaborative, universal leadership that employs calculated risk-taking and a determination to consider and implement new and innovative ideas. The Division’s Board of Trustees continues to embrace the direction set by Alberta Education to adopt a Generative Governance Model that demands public confidence in all facets of the system. The Division’s clear strategic direction will be maintained, administered and reviewed on an ongoing basis to ensure true stewardship of resources.

As a learning organization, the Division recognizes continued improvement through a commitment to leadership at all levels.


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Inclusive Education

Strengths

 We would like to celebrate:
  • Our ongoing School-Based Support Team meetings every Tuesday, where we hear from classroom teachers about the needs of individual students and create an action plan for going forward.

  • Our well-established social culture, which encourages a ‘feeling of belonging’ by building strong relationships between students, teachers and parents. Our many extracurricular and curricular projects and activities promote this culture.

  • Our ongoing work with the Zones of Regulation program. Zones of Regulation is “a systematic cognitive behaviour approach used to teach self-regulation by categorizing all the different ways we feel and react.” We also have small Zen Den group sessions for children dealing with anxiety.

  • Our effective school counsellor, who also teaches Health to all Middle Years students, thereby enabling him to strengthen his relationship with these students.

  • Our goal of creating better programming for all students through better Individual Program Plans and differentiation within the classroom. Our teachers are embracing new tools and classroom environments to suit all learning styles.

Parents appear to be satisfied with their involvement in making decisions about their child’s programming, but this is still an area that requires growth.

 

I appreciate everything. We have found the school to be wonderful. I appreciate when I see different cultures being explored, when I see children learning respect for one another. I was impressed upon my first visit to see a sign about bullying awareness.

- Parent via ThoughtExchange
 

 

Our staff give 100% to their students, always. Their commitment is unwavering.

- Staff Member

Opportunities

Our plans going forward:
  • We have spent the past two years expanding the availability of flexible seating and alternative learning spaces within the school. We continue to improve environments for learning.

  • Staff will continue to seek out and receive professional development regarding inclusive education, especially in the area of mental health and trauma.

  • We strive to improve communication between home and school so that student needs are met. We have a strong team of professionals working alongside classroom teachers but we will continue to improve awareness of the supports that go beyond the school.

  • We will continue our work with Truth and Reconciliation concepts.  Much work was done in the last year, with more parent involvement and the establishment of a lead teacher.

Results

In reviewing the results of our ThoughtExchange and Accountability Pillar surveys, we would like to see more satisfaction within our parent community in the area of Inclusion. We want to be a school where students feel accepted and supported, where teachers get the tools they require to meet the needs of all students, and where parents have input and are pleased with the programming available for their children.


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Quality Learning

Strengths

We would like to celebrate:
  • Our excellence in literacy. Evaluations such as Provincial Achievement Tests (PAT), an international French Immersion measure called Diplôme d'études en langue française (DELF), and our own assessments all indicate strong literacy learning in French and English. Our early literacy intervention program supports strong classroom teaching.
     
  • Our ongoing focus on numeracy. School-wide professional development and the support of our two Collaborative Teaching Partners (CTPs) have brought numeracy to the forefront in our school.
     
  • School-wide focus on mental math and calculation skills are ongoing, and we saw a noticeable difference in our PAT results.  We now use ongoing ‘check-ins’ to determine where children are at with their learning.
     
  • Our increased access to and effective use of technology. The use of Google Classroom has improved students’ organization and accountability, especially in Grades 5-9.
     
  • Our commitment to teaching all Grade 4-9 students French as a Second Language. Both English and French are highly valued in our school.
     

Parents, teachers and students have reported their satisfaction with the offering of a broad spectrum of programming and with the overall quality of basic education at our school.
 

Teachers [are] making an effort to treat their students like individuals. It is wonderful to see and hear that your child is being recognized for their individuality. Not all students learn the same, some are visual. Some need to be hands on. When this is recognized it creates effective learners. 

- Parent via ThoughtExchange
 

Love the positive learning culture in this building. Kids are happy and excited to learn and grow. Staff are ready to guide them.

- New Staff Member
 

Great Staff! I can never stop bragging to family about the wonderful staff at our school and how they treat the children and families. You don't know how important you are in our lives.

- Parent via ThoughtExchange

Opportunities

Our plans going forward:
  • We will continue our work with building a “growth mindset” where students take ownership of their learning.  We believe in regular “check-ins” with guided reading, writing and math. We will continue to work with good learner habits, especially in Grades 5-9. This involves focusing on competencies, such as problem-solving and critical thinking.
     
  • We will continue to provide more clarity in assessment and reporting to parents. We believe that good communication outside of the report card is key.
     
  • We have set goals to increase results in our Provincial Achievement Tests (FLA and ES in Grade 6 FI, Math in Grade 6 and 9 English). We will look at building vocabulary, non-fiction reading and general facility with the French language in Grades 3-6.  We will continue to build fluency with numerical skills at all grades.

  • We are exploring more competency-based cross-curricular learning - especially how we can teach it in an outdoor environment.  We will tie this to the new K-4 Science and Wellness curriculum.

Results

ThoughtExchange survey results indicated an absence of concern regarding the teaching and learning taking place at Meridian Heights. We are happy with these results, but we want to see even more contentment with learning as a whole. We would like to be leaders in French Immersion education, and we continue to provide French instruction to 85% of our students by the end of Grade 9.


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Culture of Wellness

Strengths

We would like to celebrate:
  • The variety and quality of sports and physical literacy opportunities available for students. We run exceptional running programs for all ages, including cross-country (which has over 100 Meridian Heights participants) and provincial meets like the Running Room Games. We find ways to get even more movement into the school day via our spin bikes, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, yoga and general daily movement.

  • The tremendous support from staff and families as we continue to explore nature-based learning. We have had many opportunities to improve both physical and mental health in our students and staff.  This has resulted in fewer conflicts on playgrounds as well.

  • School-wide events that build school culture, such as the Terry Fox Run, Franco-Fête and more.

  • Providing more staff in-services about mental health. Staff are learning how to become ‘master observers’, so that they can help identify children who may need access to mental health services. Our Rainbows Program, Zen Den, and Zones of Regulation have made significant progress in our ability to practice mindfulness and learn to self-regulate.

Various athletic programs are excellent and the teachers are very interactive and gain the trust and respect of their students.

- Parent via ThoughtExchange
 

The school does a great job of making the students feel a sense of pride, excitement and belonging! It's a very positive culture! 

- Parent via ThoughtExchange
 

I really appreciate the focus on health and well-being at Meridian. The staff here serve as such excellent role models for the students.

- Staff Member

Opportunities

Our plans going forward:
  • We would like to keep developing physical literacy learning opportunities. Providing even more time for movement outside of gym class should help students maintain their focus and reduce their anxiety. Anxiety and/or stress was expressed as an area of concern in some student survey data and parent feedback.

  • We will continuing focusing on physical fitness and social gatherings to improve staff wellness, providing them with opportunities to participate in student-staff games, paint nites, cooking classes and more.

  • We will continue to provide more outdoor learning opportunities. Benefits to learning outdoors include improved mindfulness, better mood regulation, environmental stewardship and overall well-being.

Results

Parents have told us that they appreciate the efforts made by staff to provide a physically and mentally healthy learning environment, and we would like this trend to continue. While our Accountability Survey suggests that 88% of teachers, parents and students feel that students are safe at school, are learning the importance of caring for others, are learning respect for others and are treated fairly in school.  We are pleased with parents’ appreciation of our new Outdoor classroom and the benefits of getting students outside for learning.


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Universal Leadership

Strengths

We would like to celebrate:
  • Our everyday opportunities for student leadership:  announcements and MCs, reading buddies, playground games organizers, recycling club, etc.

  • Our student leadership and classroom assistance group, who  learn to guide peers and younger children. This grows every year and the cross-graded experiences benefits the school culture overall.

  • Our continued partnership with a small but strong core of parent leaders involved in school council, hot lunch, fundraising and more.

  • Our ever-increasing diversity in teacher leadership. Many staff members have recently completed their Masters studies. Many new teachers joining our school community make for many mentorship opportunities for experienced teachers. Health champions, coaches, literacy leads, Collaborative Teaching Partners, the Inclusive Education Lead and French Immersion rep teachers all take on leadership roles at our school.

  • Increased School Council attendance, coupled with a positive vibe to the meetings.

Responsiveness of School Administration to parent feedback: The current School Administration team has demonstrated willingness to solicit, discuss, and implement input from parents. The result is a sense of transparency and cooperation that has parents engaged at higher levels now.

- Parent via ThoughtExchange
 

Leadership Programs: I am amazed at the programming options available for students and appreciate that the focus covers the arts to physical education and the emphasis on being kind, respectful leaders.

- Parent via ThoughtExchange
 

All of our staff have a variety of skills that contribute exponentially to the well-being and success of all of our students. From our custodians to our administrators and everyone in between, we have all managed to connect with our students and make them feel valued, loved and safe.

- Staff Member

Opportunities

Our plans going forward:
  • School Council and staff will continue to encourage and acknowledge parent participation in a variety of ways.

  • To encourage further staff leadership, we will adapt the ‘Share Your Expertise’ sessions, we place mentors with new staff, and in general believe in a distributed leadership approach with “it takes a village” philosophy.

  • We will continue our collaboration with Stony Plain Library to provide after-school programming that supports our French Immersion goals of language and literacy.

Results

We will encourage students and parents to take on leadership roles within our school. Positive ThoughtExchange and Accountability Survey comments in regards to leadership will help us gauge our success in this venture.


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Engagement/Communication

Strengths

Parents appreciate the strong French Immersion programming at our school:
 

I am so appreciative that my children are receiving an enriched language program that is built school wide.

- Parent via ThoughtExchange

Parents recognize that Meridian Heights is like a big family. They value K-9 programming, 10 grades, two languages, and 800 people in one building:

Love the cross grade collaboration! I think it is very valuable having children from older grades working with the children from younger grades. These are usually highlights of my children’s day. 

- Parent via ThoughtExchange
 

Meridian truly is a family that looks out for the best interests of our students and staff. 

- Staff Member
 

Reading Buddies is such an asset. Having a kid whose social development lags a little bit makes me appreciate this program so very, very, very, very much.

- Parent via ThoughtExchange
 

Love how ALL of our students are OUR students. We all care for them, guide them and watch out for them.

- Staff Member

Engagement of students in school decisions has increased. 

Like how our school asks us what we’d like to see in changes in our school. I like being asked. (Student Voice assemblies, surveys)

- Student

The openness of the teachers is appreciated. Whenever there has been any concerns, we have been able to talk about it.

- Parent via ThoughtExchange
 

Communication between home and school gets better and better:

Teacher-parent communication is wonderful. My child’s teachers have done an excellent job of communicating with me this year through various mediums. The time they have taken is greatly appreciated and has made a difference in me being able to support them and my child.
 

- Parent via ThoughtExchange
 

The openness of the teachers is appreciated. Whenever there has been any concerns, we have been able to talk about it.

- Parent via ThoughtExchange

The school has been great at communicating through all forms of social media.

- Parent via ThoughtExchange

Opportunities

Our plans going forward:
  • We'd like to continue an "early check-in" with parents in the form of an October interview.

  • We will continue to involve parents in the decision-making process for large field trips and events such as the Quebec Trip, Choir Trips and Grade 7 Camp.

  • We will continue the Student Voice assemblies where students provide individual written feedback and have opportunities to share with their grade level groups.  Students have seen recent improvements in their school based on this input.

  • We will improve our use of the Parent Portal, School Messenger and our website. We want to provide better communication about field trips - sending all trip information home at once in October; parents indicated their appreciation of this in the ThoughtExchange survey.

  • We want to increase parent involvement in our school via their participation in hot lunch, events, library, recycling, materials prep, supervision outside and more.

Results

We hope to see an increase in parent and staff satisfaction about involvement, voice, and engagement in our community. We hope to see continued enthusiasm from students about their learning experience at Meridian Heights.


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Resource Stewardship

Strengths

Despite our dual track education system, we still maintain small class sizes in many grades.  Some efforts were made to keep our student population closer to 700, but we have increased to over 730 students once again. Despite this, we have been able to keep our class sizes reasonable.

  • We have a number of support personnel to assist classroom teachers. We have maintained our counsellor, inclusive education lead and several quality educational assistants and lead teachers to assist with student needs.

Money has been spent on better furniture, updated audio-visual system in gym, new equipment for our renovated kitchen, archery,  more laptops for students, literacy and numeracy materials, outdoor learning and other new equipment. We have also been successful in obtaining grants to help with these projects.

Good improvements in the school. Library, gathering area and front of school look great and have wonderful seating.

- Parent via ThoughtExchange

Opportunities

Our plans going forward:
  • We budgeted for better furniture in our classrooms, while purging old books, materials and furniture. We have had our kitchen renovated and we will build a 3 year plan for our library now.

  • Our recycling bin program will continue to reduce the clutter of paper and cardboard recycling in hallways. Using electronics recycling bins each winter helps our community as well.

  • We believe hiring quality teachers is of paramount importance. French Immersion staff are difficult to find, but school administration are working hard with our Human Resources department to advertise widely and hire early.

Results

We hope to see continued satisfaction about how resources are allocated, both from staff and parents.

Positive Comments about Meridian Heights:

This is a positive learning environment for teachers and students. We are encouraged to take PD. New ideas are encouraged. The encouragement is verbal as well as collaborative. I have taught in many schools in three different provinces and this is a school in which I WANT to work.

- Staff Member
 

I appreciate less focus on actual homework in the younger grades! I love that the focus is more on just encouraging to read and finish work that wasn't completed in school. Kids need to be kids and have some family/play time.

- Parent via ThoughtExchange
 

I like the openness to trying new ways to improve learning - i.e. stability balls.

- Parent via ThoughtExchange
 

Small class sizes: Coming from a different school where class sizes were very large (between 27-37 students) we appreciate the small class sizes and the amount of individual attention it allows students.

- Parent via ThoughtExchange
 

The attitude of striving for excellence is everywhere at EMHS; we see it in our decor, in the friendliness and cheerfulness of our staff, in our sports and music departments as well as in visual arts, and in the devotion to our students which is paramount to our school.

- Staff Member
 

I'm so happy we found a place in the Meridian Heights catchment. It was one of our main criteria when shopping for an acreage.

- Parent via ThoughtExchange


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