School’s Out for Summer!

Not sure if back in 1972 Alice Cooper had any idea that a song he penned would see annual popularity for decades, but School’s Out for the summer here in New Westminster. It’s been a huge year for the New Westminster School District and Board of Education. The obvious feather in their cap is the announcement that the provincial government has, at long last, allocated funding and approved a plan for a new high school to be built before 2019. Colour me impressed. I, along with many others, have been critical of the delays, and even started researching ways to homeschool my child before the announcement. I still remain a bit reserved and will “believe it when I see it”, but I feel good about it and am breathing a sigh of relief.

The recent byelection (which had abysmally low voter turnout at just over 4% of the voting populace – this is a whole post unto itself) saw Mary Lalji elected into the position by only 60 votes. If you look carefully at the polling station numbers, it was really decided at Ecolé Glenbrook Middle School.

Something I heard more than once was that people didn’t really understand what trustees did, and didn’t really think it mattered to them who was in charge if they didn’t have children in the system. I’ve written about it before on Tenth but the TL; DR version is that trustees set policy, approve budgets and act as overseers to the way the district runs, and, by extension, the way the schools fit into our community. Big picture: they help churn out great kids despite budget shortfalls, which improves our community’s feel and value.

To help dispel the myths and get a summary of how the 2015/2016 school year went on a board level, I reached out to Jonina Campbell, Chair of the New Westminster Board of Education. Many thanks to Jonina for her time in putting all of this information together for me.

The New Westminster Schools Board of Education: from left: James Janzen, Kelly Slade-Kerr, Michael Ewen, Jonina Campbell, Mark Gifford, Mary Lalji, and Casey Cook

Note: this post is enormous, as there is so much to report, so I’ve indexed it here if you want to jump around in the post.

Continue reading “School’s Out for Summer!”

New Westminster Montessori Society Eyes Expansion to Middle School

The Montessori Society invites families interested in having their child attend Montessori during middle school – no matter how old they are now – to attend a parent information session on May 30th at Lord Tweedsmuir Elementary (Room 108) from 6:30-7:30pm and express their interest. During the session, the Society hopes to shed light on what a Montessori middle school program would look like, and the benefits of such a program. Some of the current district teachers will be available to answer questions, and special guests from the very successful Coquitlam Montessori Middle School Program will also be on hand. Child minding is available – and they ask that you email to let them know your child’s age to before the session.

If you cannot make the session but have an interest, please email the society to tell them – they need expressions of support from New Westminster families in order for the District to fully appreciate if there is an appetite for a Montessori program in the middle school (much like how there is Late French Immersion already). The more voices, the better. 

This info session is the culmination of a lot of work by Montessori teachers and the society and it’s a critical part of making sure District staff fully understand there is an appetite and a need for a program expansion such as this. If parents speak up, it may happen – the District is responsive (well, as responsive as is realistically possible) but they really, truly, need to hear it. This is one of those times where advocating for your child’s education makes you a squeaky wheel. Continue reading “New Westminster Montessori Society Eyes Expansion to Middle School”