Who’s On First?

Rather than allowing Abbot and Costello to continue their bickering, I thought I would answer their question by giving you an idea of who will be teaching what next year. At this date, some of this information is still tentative.

Tentative Staffing for 2018/2019

Lorene Hind                                     Kindergarten/Prep Release

Naomi Brecht                                   Grade 1 (Possible Grade 1/2)

Natasha Stonehouse                       Grade 2 (Possible Grade 2/3)

Tammy Parker                                 Grade 3

Christina McVittie                           Grade 4

Rachel Kopperud                             Grade 5

Ashley Palm                                      Grade 6

Pat Taylor                                          Grade 7

Andy Baetz                                       Grade 7/8

Jenelle Lepp                                      Elementary Prep Release

Tracy Cherry                                    Arts Ed 9; Visual Arts 20 (for Grade 12); Chapel Band                                                                    10/20/30; Prep Release

Ken Desjardine                                Computer/CWE 9; Accounting 20; Photo 10 (Grade 10);                                                                  Photo 10 (Grade 11); History 10; Graphic Arts 20;                                                                          Computer Science 20; Economics 20

Jocelyn Friesen                                Pre-Calculus 20; Pre-Calculus 30; CoCo 10 (Grade 10);                                                                    CoCo 10 (Grade 11); Calculus 30; Accounting 10;                                                                              Foundations and Pre-Calculus 10; CoCo 20 (Grade 12)

Esther Gokavi                                  History 20; History 30; CE 9; CE 10; Psych 20; Psych 30;                                                                History 30; SS 9

Katrina Whelan-Korchinski         ELA A30; ELA A30; ELA B30; ELA B30

Murray Long                                    Math 9; Math 9/Health 9; CE 20; Life Transitions 20;                                                                     Dinner Theatre; Prep Release

Aletta Luma                                     CE 20; CE 30; CE 30; ELA A9; ELA B9; ELA A10; ELA                                                                        B10; ELA 20

Glen Ukrainetz                                 Wellness 10; Law 30; PE 9; Sc 9; PE 20/30; PE 20/30; Prep                                                               Release

Temp Teacher                                   Math Foundations 20; Math Foundations 30; Sc 10; CH                                                                 30; PH 30; PSC 20; HSC 20; BI 30

The time table will be made available when the secondary students register for their classes.

NEW

Currently we offer awards for academics, athletics, and citizenship. We will be discussing new awards for our secondary awards ceremony next year. The discussion will pertain to the following list:

Academics: Honour Roll, High Honours, Administrator’s List, Top Academic Award

Athletics: Cougar, Most Outstanding Athlete, Most Improved Athlete (for each sports)

Character: Paul – Workmanship – Minimum 80% in Honour Roll Subjects; Spiritual –                                            Displaying the Fruit of the Spirit and involved in church and                                                    outreach; Integrity – Committed to keeping and supporting all school                                      rules; Respect – showing respect to teachers, fellow students, and the                                       property of others; Extra-Curricular Involvement – serving the                                                 broader Christian school community by a willingness to attend and                                         serve at non-compulsory activities; Attendance – being punctual and                                       attending consistently

Jonathan – genuine friendship and concern for classmates

Caleb – perseverance and diligence to assigned tasks

Daniel – godly development and testimony of body, mind, and spirit;                                                       being willing to stand alone for righteousness, regardless of who                                             else is

Ruth/Job – female/male student who has ensured extraordinary hardships                                               with a positive, God-honouring testimony

Christian: Berean – displaying a love for God’s Word through memorization and study

Joshua – exemplary Christian leadership characterized by participation                                                  ‘heartily, as unto the Lord’

Golden Apple – Memorizing the book of Proverbs ($400 monetary gift)

Silver Apple – Memorizing Proverbs 1-16 or 15-31 ($200 monetary gift)

David – students who strive after God by knowing and showing Him more

Fine Arts: Asaph – outstanding music student based on leadership, scholarship, and                                              character

Bezaleel – outstanding visual arts student based on leadership, scholarship,                                             and character

Jeremiah – outstanding drama student who has displayed consistency,                                                         creativity, strength of conviction, perseverance, enthusiasm, and                                             co-operation in proclaiming the Word of God through drama

PAAKoinonia – given to the top Commercial Cooking student based on                                                               academic achievement and hospitality mindset

No name yet – given to the top photography student based on academic                                                            achievement, creativity, and attempts to glorify God

Caveat: These are earned awards; not every award will be handed out every year.

 

 

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Who Is In Charge Anyways?

Every year brings change. Dealing with change is hard. It is emotionally draining, stressful, and often incomprehensible. This year, one of the challenging changes is that enrollment has dropped and this has necessitated a corresponding drop in teaching staff.

It is always difficult to say good-bye to teachers, especially if they have worked in the building for many years. School staff, particularly in a Christian school context, often become like family and that makes changing schools even more stressful.

This year we have seven teachers moving to different positions and one teacher superannuating. The seven teachers are:

Chelsea Abramoff

Carmen Bekkatla

Rebecca Krieg

Wes Letkeman

Seth Peters

Sheryl Salen

Michelle Wiens

Tracy Janzen is superannuating this year.

We want to thank all eight of these teachers for the time and effort they have put into SCS. Without them, we would not have been able to offer all the programs that we have offered. We will miss them and ask for God’s blessing on them as they transition to different assignments next year.

Emotional turmoil is a common side effect of change. We often play with metaphors such as ‘the ship (SCS) is sinking’ or ‘how can those in charge do this’? There are two passages in Scripture that deal with this topic. The first one is Mark 4:35-41: 35 On the same day, when evening had come, He said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side.” 36 Now when they had left the multitude, they took Him along in the boat as He was. And other little boats were also with Him. 37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. 38 But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” 39 Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. 40 But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?41 And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!”

There are several key messages found in this passage. First, the Lord Jesus told His disciples that they would cross over to the other side. Jesus, being all-knowing, knew what would happen. The storm did not catch Him off guard. He was not surprised by the storm. A second message is that there were other boats there with the one that the disciples traveled on. The other boats were noted at the beginning. Once the wind started, the other boats were ignored. They were impacted by the storm as well. And yet, they were no longer important to the disciples. Other schools have gone through what we go through. We may look to them at first, but often choose to ignore that other schools have gone through similar situations as well (and have survived or even thrived). The disciples accused the Lord of not caring. They took their eyes off Him and lingered on the storm. No wonder they worried. The chorus of Helen Lemmel’s famous hymn comes to mind here:

Turn you eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.

After the disciples woke the Lord Jesus up, and accused Him, He rebuked the storm and it stopped. There are times when the storms of life are close to swamping us. At such times, we need to remember to consider Christ and not our issues and that He is with us in the midst of the storm. That fact should be more than enough to bring calm to our spirits.

The second passage is Isaiah 6:1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. This is a similar situation. As far as Isaiah could tell, the throne was empty (King Uzziah was now dead). He (may) have felt like panicking, until he lifted his eyes and had a vision of the heavenly throne. THAT throne was still filled; God was still on the throne and in control. If Isaiah had wondered who may have been in charge now that the king was dead, he no longer needed to wonder: God was still in charge.

We need to come to the same conclusion. There will be times when we wonder why we are going through the different (difficult) circumstances. During such times we need to remember that God is still on the throne and that the Lord Jesus is with us in the midst of the storm.

The following hymn shows this really well. The storm is acknowledged at the beginning, but the calming presence of Christ is relied on at the end. I’m sure we can relate.

Peace, Be Still

Master, the tempest is raging!
The billows are tossing high!
The sky is o’ershadowed with blackness,
No shelter or help is nigh;
Carest Thou not that we perish?
How canst Thou lie asleep,
When each moment so madly is threatening
A grave in the angry deep?

Refrain

The winds and the waves shall obey Thy will,
Peace, be still!
Whether the wrath of the storm tossed sea,
Or demons or men, or whatever it be
No waters can swallow the ship where lies
The Master of ocean, and earth, and skies;
They all shall sweetly obey Thy will,
Peace, be still! Peace, be still!
They all shall sweetly obey Thy will,
Peace, peace, be still!

 

Master, with anguish of spirit
I bow in my grief today;
The depths of my sad heart are troubled
Oh, waken and save, I pray!
Torrents of sin and of anguish
Sweep o’er my sinking soul;
And I perish! I perish! dear Master
Oh, hasten, and take control.

Refrain

Master, the terror is over,
The elements sweetly rest;
Earth’s sun in the calm lake is mirrored,
And heaven’s within my breast;
Linger, O blessèd Redeemer!
Leave me alone no more;
And with joy I shall make the blest harbor,
And rest on the blissful shore.

Refrain

Ireland

Ireland just recently held a referendum on whether or not to repeal the 8th Amendment (Right to Life). The pro-abortion side won (66% in favour of repeal). During the subsequent days, I came across two widely different perspectives. The first comment was on Facebook and said, ‘I’m sorry. Let me get this straight. A guy walks into a classroom and shoots 20 children causing a nation to believe it’s time to re-examine gun laws? In 2012, in the US alone, 1.2 MILLION unborn children were hacked apart and discarded like trash but that’s OK? I think it’s time for our nation to re-examine its morals.’  The second comment came on my Twitter feed and said, ‘Huge congrats to #Ireland for overturning their archaic and dangerous abortion law. They will repeal their Eighth Amendment in the name of a more humane law. See U.S.A., it can be done! #GunReformNow.

What is really interesting to me is that both quotes equate abortion laws with gun laws. They just come at it from differing perspectives. The first comment is about how abortion kills far more people than guns, and yet we only care about restricting access to guns. The second comment is about how abortion is more humane than gun deaths. I guess the second person has never really thought through what an abortion actually involves.

If you read any article on either abortion or gun laws, you will see people holding very strongly-worded opinions. Each side almost vilifies the other. Rather than appealing to reason, the object seems to be to call the ‘other side’ more derogatory names than they do ‘our side’ (whatever that means). As Christians, we are not to participate in such conversations. God has called us to support and encourage those who are weaker (1 Thess. 5:14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all), and this includes unborn children. According to Isaiah, we also need to ‘Learn to do good; Seek justice, Rebuke the oppressor; Defend the fatherless, Plead for the widow’ (1:17).

So, how should we engage in this debate? First, pray. Then pray some more. Then let your actions speak before your words. Realize that social media is (usually) not the forum to hold a civil, nuanced conversation. Don’t just talk, but act (James 1:22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves). We need to be an example (lead by doing) rather than just telling others what to do (lead by telling).

Some good books on this topic are:

Love Thy Body: Answering Hard Questions About Life and Sexuality by Nancy R. Pearcey

A Practical Guide to Culture by John Stonestreet

Same-Sex Marriage: A Thoughtful Approach to God’s Design for the Family by Sean McDowell and John Stonestreet

 

The Politics of Collaborative Expertise

This is the second of two John Hattie articles on how to improve learning at SCS. [As before, my comments will be in square brackets.]

‘The real problem (of education) is that the locus of system-wide improvement is actually at the individual level. The only way to improve this to get INSIDE classrooms and work with teachers where they do their business – and that takes a ton of courage for all educators (formal leaders and classroom teachers alike) as well as the system overall and time. [The bottom line is that the teacher has the biggest impact on how much students learn.]

‘Expect a Year’s Worth of Progress

The student of high expectation teachers [are] very successful in achieving their teachers’ expectations and the students of teachers with low expectations [are] similarly successful at making lower gains.’ [What I have learned is that it does not matter where one sets the bar; students will always fall just short. So, if the bar is set low, students will just fail to reach it; if the bar is set high, students will just fail to reach it. So set the bar high. However, that is only half of the story. The other half is that the teachers then need to provide the scaffolding and supports needed to help each student reach the high bar. That, to a great extent, is Hattie’s argument in this article.]

‘Develop New Assessment and Evaluation Tools

We need to understand teacher and student expectations to ensure that they are appropriately high – and then to provide teachers with decent assessment and evaluation tools to help them set and evaluate these expectations.’ [This is about what administrators need to provide their staff and not about the failures of teachers. Teachers do the best they can with the tools they are given; it is up to the administration to give them better tools. Just getting data is not good nor enough; it must be the right data. Giving the teachers better evaluation tools helps generate the right data.]

‘Know Thy Impact

School leaders [need to] become leaders in evaluating the impact of all in the school on the progress of all students…. Schools need to become incubators of programs, evaluators of impact and experts at interpreting the effects of teachers and teaching on all students.’ Teachers [need to] be clearer about what success would look like and the magnitude of the impact and we ask them to prepare assessment to administer at the end – before they start teaching.’ [Here we see three different roles set out: administrators as educational leaders, schools as incubators of programs, and teachers as evaluators. This should become a discussion point within SCS and withing SPSD.]

‘Ensure Teachers Have Expertise in Diagnosis, Interventions, and Evaluation

If students are not learning, then it is because we are not using the right teaching strategies….[Teachers need to] have a high level of cognitive decision-making skills; that they are able and willing to say ‘I was wrong in my choice of method of intervention and need to change what I do or say’ or ‘I was right in my choice of interventions as they led to me successfully teaching these students’; and that they engage with others in collaborative inquiry about their diagnoses, interventions and evaluations – based on the evidence of their impact.’ [This requires huge amount of trust. We are not there yet, but this is something that we will be working on next year as it is truly what is best for students. Also, this is what it means for teachers to actually be professionals – working together, based on evidence, to help students achieve academic and spiritual success.]

‘The Implications of Collaborative Expertise

The focus of collaboration needs to be on the evidence of impact, common understandings of what the impact means, the evidence and ways to know about the magnitude of the impact and how the impact is shared across many groups of students…. Led by instructional leaders, the community would aim to have teachers sharing and learning how to become more expert…. The school leader must have the expertise to create opportunities, develop trust, provide the resources needed to understand the impact on students of all the teachers (and their own impact as school leaders) and to lead these discussions among the teachers. The leader’s role is to seek the answer to two major questions: (1) what is the evidence that each student is gaining at least a year’s progress for a year’s input in every subject and (2) what is the school doing in light of this?… The school, not the individual teacher, should be the unit of analysis. [We have known about the importance of collaboration for teachers for a long time. However, that does not mean that we are engaged in collaboration to any great extent. This is something that needs to change (but I know it takes both time and trust). We also need to decide on which assessment tools will actually give us the data we are looking for. This will take some time. It is something that we will be working on again next year.]

Bibliography.

Hattie, J. (June 2015). What Works Best in Education: The politics of collaborative expertise. Pearson.

The Politics of Distraction

This is the first of two articles by John Hattie that I would like to share with you. [I will comment on what I quote within square brackets.]

Hattie’s fundamental argument is that the ‘minimum goal of education, when rightly expressed, should be for all students to make at least one year’s progress for one year’s input, no matter where they start.’ [This is a good basic assumption. Where we go from here is to look at the various suggestions that Hattie makes to ensure that this happens.] Hattie then argues that ministries of education have good intentions, but often the good intentions do not lead to where we need to go. Hattie explains that political leaders and department officials often struggle with the ‘variability in the effectiveness of what happens at the classroom level and instead focus on policies which are politically attractive but which have been shown to have little effect on improving student learning…. The typically expensive proposals…distract us from implementing policies that can make a significant difference, defined here as interventions with an effect size of at least 0.4, the average expected effect size for one year of progress in school.’ [As an administrator, I am all about student learning. How can we, as an administrative team, help our students make one year’s worth of progress with one year’s worth of teaching. Some of Hattie’s suggestions will work at the school level; other suggestions need to be made at the provincial level and so we don’t really have a large say on that issue. Let’s start to consider Hattie’s various suggestions.]

‘Fix the Infrastructure

We need more sophisticated diagnostic tools to help teachers ascertain each student’s recent successes and work out the best way for them to progress to the next level.’ [This is true for us here at SCS. There are a variety of assessments we need to complete by virtue of being an associate school. However, there are other assessments that we will start to implement next year that have not been used at SCS in the past. The two main areas across all grades is literacy and numeracy. There is a simple literacy test that we can implement for grades K-6. We will then look for some assessment tools for literacy from grades 7-12. I also have a numeracy assessment tool that we can use for K-8; we then need to find a good tool for grades 9-12. Once we have these tools, we can start tracking students and seeing where we need to make adjustments and which adjustments we need to make. That will help us move forward with each student.]

‘The art of teaching is to balance the need for surface knowledge with deep processing of this knowledge. Deeper thinking skills need content on which to work. You cannot use deeper-thinking skills unless you have something to think about.’ [This has been something I have argued for years. Students need a lot of background knowledge before they can be asked to think critically about it. So let’s give them the background knowledge and then challenge them to evaluate that information critically. This would not require a big change at SCS; it is more that the teachers just need to be more intentional about doing this. In other words, we do this; we just need to know that we are deliberately choosing to do this.]

‘Fix the Teachers

Teachers attain additional expertise (such as studying to become a learning-difficulties coach, assessment coach or literacy coach) and take responsibility for improving the skills of their fellow teachers within a school.’ [This is something that we at SCS already do in some of the elementary grades. We have a data team that is getting further training in assessment and instructional strategies and bringing that information back to SCS and then sharing it with the other teachers in the elementary. It does not work quite the same way in the secondary grades, but several of our staff are also very involved in acquiring greater expertise in the secondary subject areas and then bringing that information back to the secondary departments. We have seen how beneficial this is at SCS. The only real change that needs to happen here is that the efforts should be documented so that we can be even more intentional in making this happen. (Much of what has been done has not been documented and so is not well known.) As we become aware of other areas that are less developed, we will start to send staff to get further training in those areas so that we can help improve the entire teaching staff. This form of professional development has been shown to be the most effective style of professional development.]

Bibliography

Hattie, J. (June 2015). What Doesn’t Work in Education: The politics of distraction. Pearson.

What If Jesus Meant What He Said? Part 5

Part 9

Suffering and Persecution Refocuses Us on Eternity

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal (2 Corinthians 4:14-16).

In these verses, we are reminded that the light afflictions which we suffer foretell a greater reality. Not only are they a token reminding us of what is to come, but they are the tool which is ‘working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.’ Could our lack of vision be due to a refusal to embrace the ‘light afflictions’ that will accompany being associated with Jesus Christ? Could our lack of eternal perspective flow from our tight grip on temporal things? Does our response to life’s afflictions cause others to refocus on eternity, or does it point them to futile pursuits that will end up looking like Athens’ abandoned Olympic Park?

Part 10

Suffering and Persecution Revives our Hope

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience (Romans 8:18-25).

How easy is it to grow weary! But notice again the blessed work of suffering.

Not only does suffering refocus us on eternity, but it also revives our hope. ‘Hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees?’ What is this hope? ‘Waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ’ (Titus 2:13). Could it be that, as members of the bride of Christ, we have such little longing for our Bridegroom’s return because we are far too comfortable in the world that crucified Him?

In 1 John 3:2-3, the apostle states, ‘We know that when He appears we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself as He is pure.’ Do we long to be like Him? Affliction, persecution, and suffering awake us to the reality that our hope is not to live a long life in this world, but to be in his presence. ‘For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it one we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened – not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life’ (2 Corinthians 5:2-4).

When Your Life Earns a Question

Peter, a disciple who accompanied Christ throughout His earthly ministry, told the early church, ‘But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect’ (1 Peter 3:15). Our lives should invite questions. Questions about what? Our hope. And such questions are most likely to come from unbelievers when we rejoice in the lord amid hard times.

The kind of hope which surpasses earthly understanding doesn’t generally show on your wedding day or when your boss gives you a promotion. ‘Hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees?’ (Romans 8:24). Hope evidences itself when the bottom falls out of your life and you still have a foundation to stand on. Are we allowing the difficult times to be the catalyst for demonstrating hope? Do we have something that the hurting world wants to participate in? Do our lives provoke questions?

When Jesus first sent out His disciples, He had warned them, ‘And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in this city, flee to another’ (Matthew 10:22-23a). Persecution was not a matter of if, but when.

Before going to the cross, Jesus told His disciples, ‘If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you’ (John 13:18-20a).

What if your greatest blessings come from persecution? What if Jesus meant what He said?

Bibliography

Bramsen, N. (2017). What If Jesus Meant What He Said? Dubuque, IA: Emmaus International.

PCAP 2016

SCS just received the results for the latest PCAP (Pan-Canadian Assessment Program) results; this assessment is for grade 8 students. The focus for this year was reading. There are two ways of looking at the data. The first way is to look at how many grade 8 students were able to read well enough to ‘participate effectively in school and in everyday life’ (PCAP 2016 Highlights, http://www.cmec.ca). In this way of looking at the data, Saskatchewan students performed well: 90% of students were able to read at that level.

A second way of looking at the data is to compare Saskatchewan to the rest of Canada. In that way, students in Saskatchewan did not do as well as the Canadian average. The mean score for Canada was 507 while the mean score for Saskatchewan was 491 (a difference in mean score of 16). This, in my mind, is somewhat concerning but something that we, at SCS, can and will address next year.

One other piece of interesting data, based on the work I did for my dissertation, has to do with the differing results between boys and girls. I will quote the pertaining paragraphs from the document: ‘Girls performed significantly better than boys…on the overall reading assessment, as well as in each of the four subdomains…. [G]irls outperformed boys by 27 points in Canada as a whole….Boys were more likely to perform at Level 1 – that is, below expected levels of reading proficiency – and were less likely than girls to achieve Level 3 for Canada as a whole’ (PCAP 2016 Highlights, http://www.cmec.ca).

For May 25 and June 1, I will share some thoughts from John Hattie (a researcher from Australia) on changes we can make to improve the academic standing of our students here at SCS.