8 More Sleeps…..WHAT?

Prior to starting this first One91 post of the 2015-16 school year I would like the Gray family to know that our collective thoughts and prayers are with them for their loss.  I know that many SD 91 staff on the  West end of our district have been directly helping and supporting the Grays and for this we are so thankful.

Counting by sleeps seems to be a universal way for many of us to count down to an exciting event and is often a strategy that we use as parents.  You can be assured that there are many, many students who are counting their sleeps until Tuesday, Sept. 8th.  In fact I believe that 100% of our incoming Kindergarteners (and our Kindergarten teachers) are counting their sleeps until Screen Shot 2015-08-30 at 8.57.41 PMthe first day of school.  As I go up by grade, I reluctantly accept that the percentage of students looking forward to the first day decreases by age.  Why is that and isn’t that something that we all can agree should change?  Well if you agree with that, then this is the year where those ideas around engagement, depth of exploration and success for ALL students can be focussed on.

Look closely at this teacher’s welcome back board and think about the message conveyed to her students.  Shouldn’t a similar message be converted in our own way to ALL our students?

In that same spirit, I have also come to the conclusion that it is vital that we use a communication tool to share our stories and so One91 arises from a lengthy hiatus.

tell your story phrase handwritten on the school blackboard

Your responsibility is to assist me and my colleagues (specifically Eugene and Mike) by sharing stories about what is occurring in your part of Nechako Lakes School District.  Let me be absolutely clear in saying that stories are not the sole domain of just educational staff.  Every employee of our school district plays a role in contributing to the success of our students and it is up to all of us to collect  these stories and share them broadly.  This is not a time to be humble….shout out what you are proud of, share your accomplishments and those of your colleagues, your school, your department and OUR students.

With that, let me start by passing on a very BIG THANK YOU to all our maintenance, technology and transportation departments for their hard work this summer in ensuring that our schools and busses are ready for the first day.  The lengthy list of accomplishments that these folks have done this summer is nothing less than impressive and almost always done with a smile (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.)   While many of us enjoyed our summer break, these people were committed to using these 60 days to maintain, repair, build and construct a variety of projects throughout the district. Please know that YOU ALL are appreciated and we thank you for your commitment to Nechako Lakes.

A big welcome also to our newest employees.  Welcome to our beautiful part of the world and we are pleased that you have chosen to work for us.  We look forward to learning more about you and listening to the stories of your first few years here.  You should be warned that like many of us who chose to come here for just a year or two, this school district grows on you!

Also we would like to pass on best wishes our newly retired friends who are not necessarily counting their sleeps.  To see some photographs of some of our 2015 retirees on the District’s Facebook page, click HERE.

We would also like to send best wishes to the following friends who reluctantly left us to pursue new challenges in BC and beyond:

  • Dan Duncan, FSJSS VP, has moved to Merritt, BC to begin a elementary principalship.
  • Brigitte Atwood, our longtime Core French / French Immersion Teacher Coordinator, has moved to Ontario to pursue new challenges.
  • Jocelyn Thalheimer, District Counsellor, has moved to the Kootenays.
  • Roz Harper, WLM Teacher, and her husband, Hugh Harper (bus driver), have moved to Victoria.
  • Phil Johnson, LDSS VP, is moving to a principalship in Lillooet, BC.
  • Holly Nikiforuk, SLP, recently married and moving to Calgary.
  • James Blake, DistrictCounsellor, has returned to his home community of Prince George.


Some exciting news on the technology front that will benefit every employee of SD 91 and will help us to collaborate and work smarter.  Office 365 for Education and access to Microsoft Office 2013 suite is available to every SD 91 employee. These products are free to all staff with a SD 91 email address.

Students in our district will also have access to this suite of tools later this school year once we complete our upgrade to the Next Generation Network (NGN) which will provide expanded bandwidth to all our communities.
Two specific tools within Office 365 have powerful implications for technology within the classroom.  OneNote and OneDrive are two tools that provide significant potential for:
  • Working from a variety of locations with multiple devices;
  • Working together through powerful collaboration tools;
  • Capture thoughts, ideas and to-do’s for easy recall;
  • Storage in the cloud for easy retrieval.
OneNote for Teachers is a very good site to explore to get ideas on how OneNote can be incorporated into the classroom, especially when access is provided to students.  We have booked a Microsoft Trainer to be in our district for the April 22nd pro-d day.
To get started with using Office 365 and to download the traditional Office Suite of programs, please go HERE.  Login in using your SD 91 credentials and you will be redirected to the SD 91 Nechako Lakes login page.  Again use your regular SD 91 credentials and you should be taken to the Office 365 page. Once you get to the page below, click on the install link under “Install Office on more devices” heading.  This will install the office suite on your home computer to be used by you.  You can do this on a maximum of 5 computers.

Important September Lessons

Experienced teachers know that September is the most important month of the school year.  Classroom routines, relationships, and creating a sense of belonging all happen in September.  Many of you will be familiar with the work of Dr. Carol Dweck on Growth Mindsets.  I encourage you to think about lessons in September that cement a Growth Mindset with our students.  I’m attached two resources to help you with planning these lessons for your age group or curricular area.  The first is a TED talk give by Dr. Dweck which is just over 9 mins long but well worth watching, especially if you are unfamiliar with this work.

The second is a webpage that suggests 6 ways to teach about a growth mindset (it also contains a video that is suitable for intermediate and high school students.)In addition to that video, your students may be interested in watching Caine’s Arcade which is embedded in this blog post from A Year of Reading.  The author of that post also recommends a variety of picture books to help begin the Mindset discussion.

Although many of you are busy preparing your classrooms, finishing off summer projects, thinking and planning for the coming school year, or refusing to wear socks, in 8 sleeps we kick off another school year.  Think about the students you will come in contact with and set clear goals on how they should be feeling about school in the first 10 minutes, first 10 hours, and the first 10 days.  We know that if you have engaged your students in the first 10 days and have made them feel attached to their the school, you are off to a great start.


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