Superintendent’s Update

Posted On Friday November 03, 2023

Dear Parent and Caregivers:

In November, I will focus on the value of Sustainability (embracing our responsibility to contribute to a sustainable environment), the Grandfather Teaching of Love (giving positive messages to those around us and accepting them for who they are), and stories about the District Priorities in the 2022-2027 District Strategic Plan.

Barriere Elementary School

Ms. McLaren is the first person who greets families when they enter the school, and I also met Ms. Collier. Both shared a warm welcome and made the start of my visit very inviting, one where the Grandfather Teaching of Love was apparent in the smiles and kind words. I then walked with Principal Brogan and met Ms. Sallenbach who shared the best part about being at Barriere Elementary is the staff and how inclusive they are. I witnessed Mr. Brogan sharing his usual “good morning” with classes in which the students shared examples of how they were living the values of the school - Being kind, respectful, responsible, and safe.

We started in Ms. Oates’ Gr. 3-5 class who told me that they were excited to write about what they did last night (Halloween) in their journals. We then went to Ms. Matthews’ class who were taught by Ms. Kivari who explained how they had just finished with their “spirit buddies” and shared what they did last evening. Ms. Levin’s Gr. 2-3 class as led by Mr. Beaudry (Teacher On Call) was reading and creating with blocks. Ms. Smailes’ Gr. 5-6 class had completed Tim Burton-inspired drawings and they were joining another class to practice for their Remembrance Day poetry about “Why Wear a Poppy?” We then met with Ms. Eustache (Aboriginal Education Worker), and she shared how she had been designing wall murals with students to Indigenize the environment and how she enjoyed engaging in cultural activities with students. She emphasized how appreciated she feels in the school.

As we concluded our visit, I witnessed differentiated literacy instruction in Ms. Peterson’s Gr. 1-2 class who were engaged in word work, guided reading, and literacy stations. Mr. Scott’s Kindergarten class was applying their concept of number in Bingo, and they read the morning message using left to right directionality, beginning letters to guess words, and then explored the letter “w”.

Barriere Secondary School

Principal Tyler and I first met a Gr. 11 student, Jesimae, who is working on the school yearbook team. She shared that since students have become directly involved in creating the yearbook, students are more invested in signing and sharing their best memories in the book. She also felt that having the Media Design students create the front and back of the book also inspired more demand to want a copy. We then visited Ms. Nomm’s Social Studies’ class in which students had explained how human and environmental factors influence society. Ms. Minaker’s English class, which was supported by Ms. Zerr, was researching the 94 Calls to Action as a way to set the stage for opening a storytelling unit. We then met with Acting Vice Principal Ruberg who shared his enthusiasm for being at Barriere Secondary.

We engaged with students in Mr. Gregory’s Pre-calculus class, and he was teaching graphing and students were exploring how their problem solving resulted in different graphs using the desmos app. We also discussed how AI technologies enable pictures of a problem to turn into computer-generated solutions that do not always read the handwritten problems as intended. There is a community of secondary teachers examining Artificial Intelligence tools and how they impact teaching and learning. We visited Mr. Whitmore (Teacher On Call) who was teaching science and students were working on an “Element SuperHero” project. Ms. McDougall (Learning Assistance Resource Teacher) was working with a student. Ms. Pellegrino’s Gr. 9-11 Foods students were roasting pumpkin seeds from the pumpkin carving done earlier in the week.

As we walked to the grade 7 wing, we stopped to see the delicious meals (perogies, cinnamon buns) that Ms. Mairs was preparing with Zoe Kershaw, a student helper, who helps Ms. Mairs with cash and other duties in the cafeteria. We also met with Gr. 7 students and the teachers (Ms. Brake and Ms. Davis) who were assisting with long division problems.

BC Anti-racism K-12 Educator Network Summit

As outlined in the District Strategic Plan 2022-2027, School District No. 73 (SD73) is committed to removing barriers and creating environments that provide accessible and empowering opportunities for all students and staff to thrive. Over the last two years, SD73 has actively participated in a provincial working group to develop an anti-racism plan at the provincial level. Last spring, District Principal Bowden and Assistant Superintendent Mochikas presented on the anti-racism work they have been doing in SD73. They highlighted their efforts which included developing and purchasing resources, developing lessons, promoting student voice, reporting acts of racism, helping school teams respond to acts of racism, and developing videos to help educators understand components of discrimination and racism.

Educators and students from school districts across the province came together for the BC Anti-racism K-12 Educator Network Summit held on October 26-27, 2023. District Principal Bowden, along with Coordinator of Aboriginal Education Chelcy Ross and students Elli Ross, Mikey Friesen, and Dakoda Kelm, participated in this provincial event where they not only had the chance to listen to speakers and representatives from a few districts but also had the opportunity to make presentations themselves. Read more.

SD73’s “Take Our Kids to Work Day”

Take Our Kids to Work Day is an annual national program in which Grade 9 (or equivalent) students are hosted by parents, friends, relatives and volunteers at workplaces across the country every November. The Take Our Kids to Work Day program aligns with our Career Development Priority outlined in the District Strategic Plan 2022-2027 by helping students connect school, the world of work, and their own futures. More than 250,000 students and 75,000 organizations take part every year across Canada, from Nunavut to Newfoundland participate in the program.

On November 1, 2023, Annika Dean, Grade 9 student from South Kamloops Secondary had the opportunity to experience the day in the life of a SD73 CUPE Staffing and Benefits employee. Annika is interested in a career in finance or human resources so it was fitting that she spent the day at the School Board Office with her mom, Jaime Dean. The highlight of her day was spending time with Director Tallon and learning about budgeting. Read more.

District Honour Band and Choir Concert

This year, the District Honour Band and Choir started their auditions in September. After selecting their members, they consisted of 37 Band Members and 19 Choir Members who dedicated late-night practice sessions throughout October, including three intensive full days from October 30 to November 1, 2023. This all came together with a concert scheduled for the evening of November 1, 2023.

During the late-night practices, students collaborated with dedicated community members and teacher volunteers from across the District, who displayed exceptional effort and care while working alongside these talented and committed students. During the final three days of practice, the students had the privilege of working with guest conductors Janine Webster and Frances Roberts, who helped fine tune the music that was to be performed. There was a lot of passion and energy put into every note of the concert.

The concert was a testament to the immense passion and energy invested in every single note, resulting in an unforgettable musical experience.

It has been a wonderful start to November, and I want to share how much I have learned by talking with you in schools and departments and by witnessing firsthand how you make a positive difference in the lives of students, families, and staff. Thank you for being invested in what you do.

Take time to rest and rejuvenate this weekend.


Rhonda Nixon, PhD


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