Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Calgary Parent Upset with Teacher Arranges Secret Recording in Classroom

From Global Calgary:

"A Calgary mother who says her child has been the victim of a bullying teacher now says she has the evidence to prove it.

After raising the problem with the principal of Grant MacEwan Elementary, she felt there was no resolution. Her next step was to send her son to his Grade 5 classroom with a recording device.

'We went from having a son excited and happy, to very worried and not sleeping at night and not wanting to go to school in the morning,' the mother told Global News. 'That’s when I noticed there was something I needed to look into.'
The device caught the following exchange between the teacher and another student.

Teacher: 'Can you stop making excuses? Did you call the teacher’s attention to say I was trying to write this and ask your neighbour? Did you talk to your neighbour?'
Student: 'Yeah.'
Teacher: 'Which neighbour?'
Student: 'Her- she said she didn’t know and I asked, and then I didn’t get the rest of it' (student crying)
Teacher: 'Oh, so keep crying, Prince. After you ask, I asked everybody to put a red strip on the top of their table if they needed help. Did anybody hear me say that?'
Class responds: 'Yes.'
Teacher: 'Where is your red strip?'
Student: 'I don’t know.'
Teacher: 'How then would I know you needed help? I am not a magician. Stop making me one or I will make you vanish.'

In other portions of the recording, the teacher was soft-spoken and encouraging to students.

Officials with the Calgary Board of Education say they cannot comment on the case because it is a personnel issue. They add they are aware of the concerns and have taken action to 'ensure the safety of students.'"

The tone of the teacher's voice portrays a clearer description of how the conversation was carried out.

Listen to the recorded conversation here.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

CBE Trustee Candidates Forum

This past Thursday, I attended Centennial High School Parents' Association Forum for the Board of Trustees Candidates in wards 12 & 14. The attending candidates were Amber Stewart, Christina Steed, Todd Newman, Helen Mowat, Malik Amery and current trustee, for wards 11 & 13, Sheila Taylor. The two hour forum included an opening and closing remark from each candidate, as well as, an open question period by audience members directed at the panel. The evening was informative and helpful in forming my decision on what CBE trustee candidate to vote for on October 21. Here is my summary of what each candidate presented:

Amber Stewart described herself to be "well rounded," "understanding parents in the thick of it," as she is a parent of school aged children herself. She advocates for transparency, communication, more detail and discussion within the board. Stewart expressed concern around mental health issues in students, particularly at the middle school level. She offered a unique idea for future board meetings, with a "we come to you" approach by using facets like Twitter, Facebook and holding board meetings at high schools. Stewart energetically jumped to answer audience questions promptly during the forum.

Christina Steed, who currently works for an MLA, spoke of her expertise in understanding "how government works, who to talk to, how to talk to them." Having a special needs youngster (and three other children), she feels strongly about early intervention in education. Christina struck me to be intelligent and methodical. She often took her time to answer audience questions and offered lengthy answers.

Todd Neuman, a software developer and small business owner, expressed his ability to "break apart complex issues." He is focused on getting the "attention of the CBE back on learning" and to "open the doors of communication" by connecting parents with the trustees. Neuman feels disconnected to the existing board and if elected, plans to engage open communication between the board and school councils. I appreciated his direct and 'to the point' approach. When the panel was asked a series of fact based questions like, "how many schools are currently within the CBE?" Neuman was the only candidate who knew the facts.

Helen Mowat passionately spoke about character, integrity, holistic learning and working/ speaking from the heart. As a former teacher of fifteen years, she spoke of the "hierarchy" that has caused "a lot of problems within the CBE." She stated that the top management at the CBE "does not want to listen." Mowat feels strongly about providing a sound foundation at the beginning of education for kindergarten and grade one students. At times, her answers got off track and confusing. 

Malik Amery introduced himself as a "product of the CBE." With his expertise in finance, Amery offers a business-like approach to the trustee role, expressing his commitment to "allocating resources." He feels that the current group of trustees has "failed to safeguard the image of the CBE" and spoke of offering more public forums like Peter Demong's 'Alder-talk.' Amery was the only candidate that touched on the diversity within wards 12 & 14, recognizing the range of needs from maintenance of schools to the "middle school issue."

Each attending candidate has a website you can visit to obtain more information. Check them out and plan to vote on Monday, October 21. Your child's education is worth the vote.

Amber Stewart: www.stewart4trustee.ca

Christina Steed: www.steed4trustee.ca

Todd Neuman: www.toddneuman.ca

Helen Mowat: www.helenmowat.com

Malik Amery: www.malikamery.com

Computers Available for Families with Limited Resources

The Calgary Board of Education has partnered with Alberta Computers for Schools to support a number of families who don’t have the financial resources to equip their child with a laptop for learning.

The CBE program has 100 refurbished computers available. In the event that there are more applicants than computers, students will be selected through a random lottery process.

The purpose of this program is to supplement teaching and learning activities, in and out of the classroom. Successful recipients will have a computer delivered to their school. Please note that as the computers are refurbished, they will be provided as is, and the CBE will not be providing a warranty or support on the hardware or software.


To receive a refurbished laptop from the Computer for Kids program, you must have had your school fees for the current academic year waived and be between grade 3 and 11.

Only one computer will be allowed per household.


Please fill out the application to apply. A teacher reference is also required. Teachers will be contacted during the year to gather data in order to determine the success of the program. The application is to be signed, scanned and submitted to Suhayl Patel in the CBE Learning & Innovation Department at supatel@cbe.ab.ca by Oct. 21, 2013.

CBE’s digital citizenship

All students must adhere to the CBE digital citizenship guidelines.

Computer specifications

All laptops will have the following specs:

  • 80GB hard drive
  • 2G RAM
  • Microsoft Windows 7
  • Microsoft Office 2003
  • Wireless Capability
  • And will be accompanied by a laptop bag

Download the Application for a Refurbished Computer.

Nominate a Great Kid Today

Nominations for the 2014 Great Kids Award have opened. 

Nominate a special young person whose generosity, leadership, courage, and compassion made a positive impact.

Every year, young leaders make outstanding contributions – at home, at school, and in their communities. 

Why not thank them for their great achievements and share their stories to inspire other Albertans to reach their full potential and build a better Alberta?

The Alberta government will honour all nominees and 16 great kids at an awards ceremony at the Fantasyland Hotel in Edmonton in April 2014. All winners will receive a trophy and a prize package from Fantasyland and IBM.  Investing in youth is one way the Alberta government is investing in families and communities to build a better Alberta.

How to nominate a great kid

Go to the website below, print off the nomination form; fill it out; and fax, mail or e-mail it to:

Alberta Human Services
Community Partnerships Branch
10th Floor, Sterling Place
9940 106 Street
Edmonton, Alberta T5K 2N2
f | 780-644-2671
e | HS.greatkids@gov.ab.ca

All nominations must be received by Dec. 9, 2013 at 4 p.m

For more information, please visit www.greatkids.alberta.ca, call 780-415-8150 (for toll-free access, dial 310-000) or email HS.greatkids@gov.ab.ca.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

CBE Chief Superintendent Stepping Down

From the Calgary Herald:

"The hunt for a new chief superintendent for Calgary’s public school board unofficially began Tuesday with the surprise announcement that Naomi Johnson plans to retire next April.
Johnson, who joined the Calgary Board of Education 33 years ago, made her decision known at the last public board meeting before the Oct. 21 election.
She was contractually required to give the board six months’ notice, and her five-year term that was set to end July 2014.
Her resignation takes effect April 8."

Read the full story here.

From the CBE

"CBE celebrates another year of strong student achievement:

Calgary Board of Education students demonstrated another year of strong academic results on those 2012-13 Provincial Achievement Tests and Diploma exams that were written. ... 'Alberta continues to be one of the highest achieving jurisdictions in the world,' says Naomi Johnson, chief superintendent of schools. 'Our objective is to exceed provincial targets and we have done so in almost every subject and grade level. For another straight year, our student results are outstanding.' "

Read the full post here.

News from CAPSC (Calgary Association of Parents and School Councils)

Upcoming Events!

CAPSC October Meeting
Our next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday October 16th, 7:00-9:00pm.  Along with the CBE, we will be co-hosting a development session for school councils, facilitated by the Alberta School Councils Association.  This workshop is designed to help school councils learn about what they can do and the resources available to them in addition to providing them with tools to work effectively with their school community.

Place: Multipurpose Room, Education Centre, 1221 – 8 Street S.W.
Parking: Free underground parking provided (access off 12 Avenue)
Topic: Tools for effective school councils

Public School Board Trustee Forums
Our president, Jeff Bowes, will be facilitating 3 city-wide forums for the upcoming school board trustee candidates.  Please join him at one of the following three locations to hear what the candidates have to say.  And don’t forget to check out the Uservoice service being offered by CivicCamp – a crowdsourcing tool where you can have a say in the questions the candidates will be asked.
Citizens’ Public School Board Trustee 12+14, 11+13 Forum

Monday, October 7, 2013

School Costume Bans

ST. CATHARINES - Thomas Puckett would have some choice words to say if told he couldn’t wear a costume to school on Halloween.
“I would just say, ‘That’s not fair, because I want to have some fun,’” the nine-year-old student said of a move by a select few Niagara schools to bar kids from wearing their Halloween costumes. Instead, those schools are going with variations on “Spirit Day,” asking kids to come not in costume but in orange and black clothes.
McKay public school in Port Colborne, and — for older students — Canadian Martyrs School have both instituted such days, but reaction has been broadly negative to the idea, and it was no different when The Standard took the question to the streets Sunday.

Read the full story here.

Let's talk about this.  Leave your comments in the comment box!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Peter Demong wins ex-opponent's backing for Ward 14

(From the CBC website)

Richard Dur, 2nd-place finisher in 2010 race, endorses incumbent council member

An incumbent alderman in the southeast has won the backing of his top opponent the last election. Peter Demong was endorsed on Thursday by Richard Dur, who placed second in the 2010 vote.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

From Karen Drummond, Communications Advisor, CBE

Attend Oct. 16 development session for CBE school councils
The Calgary Association of Parents and School Councils (CAPSC) and the Calgary Board of Education (CBE) are pleased to co-host a development session for CBE school councils.

This session will be delivered by Alberta School Councils’ Association as follows:
Date: Wednesday, Oct. 16
Time: 7 – 9 p.m.
Place: Multipurpose Room, Education Centre, 1221 – 8 St. S.W.
Parking: free underground parking provided (access off 12 Avenue)
Topic: Tools for effective school councils
RSVP: kldrummond@cbe.ab.ca or 403-817-7951
This workshop will provide school councils with tools to work effectively with their school community. "It's very difficult to be an effective school council until the ground work is in place and everyone understands the council's purpose and possibilities. We found that the ASCA workshop completely changed our school...you will be so grateful for the time you spend at this ASCA workshop," says Karen Lloyd, Co-Vice Chair, Sam Livingston School Council and Second Vice-Chair, CAPSC.
This session will replace the “regular” CAPSC meeting scheduled for October.

Keep your school community informed
Parents often ask how they can stay informed about what is happening at the CBE. Many are not aware of the ways that information is shared. Here are some ways your community can stay informed.
RSS feed - This is the best way to stay on top of timely and important news from the CBE. The RSS feed sends system messages directly to subscribers. These messages can usually be found on the front page of the CBE website, and are also posted on all school websites. Subscribe today!
School websites and school newsletters - Check these out on a regular basis for information on school activities.
CBE school council information - On the CBE website, there is a section dedicated to school councils. Here you can find information about meetings, the CBE school council handbook, past issues of the Key Communique and many helpful resources for school councils.
Key Communique - This e-newsletter includes information and invitations relevant to school councils. Included on the circulation list are school council chairs and key communicators/other council contacts.
Public board meetings - Attend meetings held 3-6 p.m. on two Tuesdays a month September to June. Click here for specific dates.

Annual reports to be sent to Board of Trustees
CBE school councils are asked to provide a copy of their annual report to the Board of Trustees each year, in addition to providing the principal with a copy. Reports were to be submitted by Sept. 30.
If you have not submitted this report to the Board of Trustees yet, please do so by e-mailing to Boardoftrustees@cbe.ab.ca or mailing to: CBE Office of the Trustees, Education Centre, 1221 - 8 St. S.W. Calgary, AB T2R 0L4.

Your vote counts
What could be more important than helping Calgary children achieve their highest personal potential? And what can you do about it?
On Oct. 21, 2013, Calgarians will elect school board trustees for the Calgary Board of Education. Take the time to learn about the candidates running for trustee in your ward. Information about upcoming trustee forums is available on the CAPSC website.
Learn more about the election, including how and where to vote, on the City of Calgary website.

What is happening with key communicators?
The key communicator is not a required school council role. However, many school councils still find it helpful to have this role and can choose to include this member as part of their council. Typically, the person in this role helps keep the school community informed about CBE-wide system news and other relevant information.
The common and required school council roles are outlined in the 2013-14 CBE school council handbook.
Contact Karen Drummond if you have further questions.

Police offer community alert service for residents
Families are invited to consider signing up for a new system that Calgary Police Service (CPS) is using to provide community alerts, public warnings and missing persons notifications.
CPS has introduced The Hub Messaging System, a community automated notification system, that delivers information to residents and business owners within the City of Calgary. The Hub Messaging System sends information to residents and businesses who have signed up for the service.

How much power do Calgary school board trustees have?

... here's an excerpt from an interesting article found on the CBC website:

"Jacquie Hansen, president of the Alberta School Boards Association, believes the power of boards started to erode in the 1990s. That's when the province took education property taxes away from local school boards and the money was pooled. That allowed Alberta Education to make the financial decisions."

With the election approaching, it might be a good idea to bring some of the points made in this article up to candidates that visit your house. Everyone want to win your vote - make them earn it!

Click here to read the full story.