Martensville school community councils coordinate efforts

Dr. Louise Humbert of the University of Saskatchewan provides information on the Physical Literacy project to School Community Council members at a gathering in Martensville on Monday, February 11

School Community Council (SCC) members from Martensville’s five schools got together to talk shop and coordinate plans last week.

SCC members from Lake Vista Elementary, Venture Heights Elementary, Valley Manor Elementary, Martensville High School and Ecole Holy Mary School gathered at Venture Heights School on Monday, February 11.

The annual meeting marked the first time the city’s Catholic elementary school was involved. Participants reviewed SCC activities at each school and heard a presentation on the Physical Literacy Project currently underway in Martensville.

Lake Vista School Vice-Principal Amy Orth said the meeting was very helpful for all the parent volunteers and school administrators.

“Anytime stakeholders from the community come together and share their successes, that strengthens the SCC within each school,” said Orth. “It’s helpful for the families to learn from each other and share ideas. It’s great to have Holy Mary School involved as well because the issues and challenges are the same for every school in our community.”

Orth noted SCCs are mandated by provincial legislation to ensure community input into school activities.

“But what we’re finding is that, as we really explore this concept of family engagement, what it actually means for schools to become more family-centric,” said Orth. “As we work alongside parents and families to support kids in their learning, we’re exploring ways to go beyond traditional fundraising activities. There is so much potential for bringing the knowledge and experience of community members into the classroom, and enrich students’ education.

“For example, if a Grade 4 class is learning about flight, then we could connect with parents who are pilots and bring those voices into the school to provide a very authentic explanation based on real-life experiences.”

Ecole Holy Mary School Principal Luisa Giocoli Clark said sharing information among the SCCs will enhance the lives of all students in the community.

“It’s great to get together to collaborate, plan and celebrate the great work being done in all our schools,” said Giocoli Clark. “Our SCC is relatively new, but many of our members bring their experience from previous schools to the table.

“It’s good to see the work that other SCCs are doing because at the end of the day we’re all part of the same community. Having that broader perspective means we can work together for everyone’s benefit.”

Valley Manor School Principal Garth Harrison said the annual SCC meeting  ensures the schools are not competing with each other when it comes to fundraising efforts, and facilitates community-wide coordination of projects.

“It’s important not to overlap campaigns,” said Harrison. “The well is only so deep, after all. And there are also opportunities to combine our efforts. Instead of individual schools each doing their own Terry Fox Run in September, it could be done on a city-wide basis, and get 2,000 kids out, instead of 300, at the same time.”

Harrison said the involvement of city administrative officials in the SCC joint meeting is also helpful in getting maximum advantage from the joint use agreement between the city and the school divisions.

Venture Heights School Community Council Chair Misty Husnik said the annual gathering is informative and helpful.

“It’s a great way for all of us to get together and hear what’s working at other schools,” said Husnik. “We learn from each other. We’re all part of the same community, and we want to give all our kids the same opportunities.”

Venture Heights School Principal Ron Biberdorf said because SCC membership is always changing, the annual meeting provides “good professional development” for parent volunteers.

Biberdorf said this year’s joint-SCC meeting focused on the Physical Literacy project currently underway in the city. A collaborative effort between the schools, the city, In Motion and the University of Saskatchewan Faculty of Kinesiology, the Physical Literacy project aims to encourage physical activity and educate students and parents about the importance of lifelong healthy activities.

Data is currently being gathered, and the findings of the project will be unveiled in the spring.