2016 Reflect, Plan and Execute

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Image source: http://tentenverhuur.nl/

BY KATHY MCDONALD 

2015 ended with kind words of encouragement and for this I am truly grateful. One year ago I had just embarked on an incredible adventure. After seventeen years of focusing primarily on my biggest investments, my children, I became a trustee for the Peel District School Board. By the end of that year I began another new and exciting undertaking, that of journalism. As 2016 is in its genesis and I embark on this new chapter of my life, I cannot help myself; introspection is a must. I strongly believe in the value of self-reflection as it is an invaluable exercise that can help propel us forward. As a lifelong learner I am constantly searching for ways to better myself.

Just a suggestion for the New Year. I would like to propose that parents or guardians allocate sometime in the New Year to sit and discuss with their children attainable educational goals for 2016. Write down these goals and place them in a location that is clearly visible by all. We are half way through the school year and most students would have received a progress report card by now. This report can be a valuable tool to help parents navigate the best way to move forward, as they strive to help their child be the best student that he or she can be. I would propose that parents go into the schools and establish or solidify the relationship with the teacher and administration. Discuss your goals for your child and express the desire to partner with the school to work together for the best interest for your child. For students that are facing exams in the coming weeks, revisit your study habits and exam preparation strategies and hunker down; before you realize it the examination day will be here.

How about a bibliophile’s paradise? Rediscover the library. For a lot of you a library was a quiet place for researching information for a project, reading reference materials for a thesis or studying for an exam. Today most libraries are vibrant hubs where knowledge is exchanged, stories are read out loud, computers are accessed and people collaborate. There are often language classes, Lego or robotic competitions and craft time. While the dewy decimal system is still used we no longer utilize the massive and sometimes overwhelming card catalogue to locate a book. With the click of a button and the guidance of knowledgeable staff we can locate what we need in an instant. The function of the library is changing and in many schools as the traditional use of library space is evolving so is the name. Today in many schools the name “library” is being replaced by the term “learning commons”.

Just a few important reminders to parents as we begin the New Year. Information regarding bus cancellations or school closing will be available usually by 6:15am (for PDSB). To access this information you can follow the Board’s; Twitter account, Facebook, Website page or visit stopr.ca. In addition to this, information may be attained by listening to the radio as well as the television. On the PDSB Website there is valuable information on Cold Weather Guidelines as well as how to treat cold injuries. Now is a good time to review with kids fire safety, staying alone at home and safe active transportation to and from school. Remind kids that they “can’t beat out and Duco”. In other words if they get hit by a car, while the car can easily be repaired and look brand new, kids invariably can’t. Encourage kids to put away all electronic devices and pay attention when using the roads. Reiterate the importance of making sure the driver makes eye contact with them and is aware of their presence before attempting a crossing, watch for cars backing out of drive ways and PAY ATTENTION.

The academic year is just about half way through and we must now look towards this next phase in our journey of knowledge. So pick a weekend in January, gather around the kitchen table after “yuh belly full” and start reflecting, planning and executing for the education of your children. As always never lose sight of the fact that parents are an important member of the team at school boards, working towards the success of your child/children.  A world class education is the best gift or legacy we can give our children. At age forty they won’t remember the Elmo toys, the dolls, the hot wheel cars or the video games. At age forty they will remember they received an education, an education that no one can take away. Whatever name you may call the building that houses volumes of wonderful books, data bases, computers and a wealth of knowledge, go check it out. So Happy New Year and may good duppy walk with you for 2016. Walk Good – Belle Marche!!!

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