Holy Family excited that school is back

The Holy Family Roman Catholic Separate School Division is excited to have another school year underway.

Director of education Gwen Keith said enrolments are up this year, although she didn’t provide specifics, as the figures still need to be presented to the division’s board at its Sept. 11 meeting. The final registration numbers won’t be released until Sept. 30.

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As for the two schools in Estevan, St. Mary’s School and Sacred Heart School/École SacréCoeur, Keith characterized those numbers as “status quo.”

Holy Family also has schools in Weyburn, Radville and Wilcox.

“We always take a look at our schools and what it means for staffing and what it means for the whole school’s progress going forward,” said Keith.

The enrolment numbers mean the division hasn’t had to make any changes due to staffing.

Keith said when they look at the school year, they always start with a theme, and focus on a sense of the word community. The theme for this year is Sharing our Learning Story One and Many.

“Last year each one of the schools kept a recording of special learning stories, and so this year we continued to do that, and we weave our values into it, and recognize those stories,” said Keith.

Academic excellence is what they’re striving for, but they also have an extra emphasis around Deep Learning and 21st century competency.

The division also has stability for this year, with the same trustees at the board table, the same central office supports and the same principals in each school.

“It’s looking very good and positive as we move forward,” said Keith.

The biggest challenge for the division this school year will be implementing a new student information system to communicate with parents and the province. It’s been a major planning and training piece for the division.

“It’s a management piece, really. It’s not a leadership piece, but it has to work properly, and so that’s been taking a lot of time. But as far as the provincial curriculum and the subject areas, our goals are very much into the areas of readiness and reading and writing and math, and into engagement.”

Holy Family will use a new reading assessment to measure reading in primary grades, so teachers will have to learn different skill sets.

With engagement, they use a different assessment process by getting feedback from kids in the fall, and then doing a followup in the spring.

“From the outside, it looks like pretty well status quo, but inside, there’s some minor adjustments to help us be more precise and go deeper with what it is we’re showing as student progress.”

Keith said she always loves starting a new school year and the development of bringing people back into the field.

An annual opening mass was held at St. John the Baptist Roman Catholic Church in Estevan before the start of the school year.

“It was really, really well received, and so that was a great sendoff. That one had all of our schools and all of our staff there.”

Then there was a full-day session with the teachers and a math expert, since math is an area they are monitoring.

Teachers then lent their expertise for sessions that dealt with skills training and technology.

“It’s quite something else to actually have practitioners teach each other,” said Keith. “I have to commend my staff because school is starting and they have lots of things to do, and yet they spent time learning from each other and guiding their peers.”

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