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January 25, 2007


Dale Sorensen

Great to hear your thoughts about Englewood and what makes it special. I have always believed Englewood to be a special school, having attended there myself from Grades 1-9. Now, my own daughter is in Grade One there, and I know it is the right place for her. I wondered if my view of Englewood was biased as a result of my own connection to the place, until I started to see others' reactions to what they witnessed there. Here is one example: a few years ago, our music group, Maritime Brass, gave educational concerts in several schools across the Island. By far, Englewood had the best-behaved kids, and we even performed for the entire school there, not just the music classes (which was the case in some of the other schools). One of our musicians had grown up in Ontario, and he was simply blown away - we musicians expect to put up with a certain degree of fidgeting/noise/misbehaviour, etc. when we perform in schools, and it was simply non-existent at Englewood. If only all school children would listen to us so intently... Interestingly, this took place before the implementation of the strategies outlined in your article. From great to greater! I am looking forward to seeing how things progress with these new initiatives.

Mike Languay

Sounds like the folks at Englewood are on to something good. There is no doubt in my mind that "Small is beautiful!" when comes to schools. When I first started teaching at the school where I am now VP there were 275 students in the school (K to Grade 9). Being the PE teacher I taught every student and knew every one the kids and most of their parents. Now my school has 900 students (K to 11 now). Something has been lost in the process. We are still a small High School (about 400 students) but the feeling of connection and family is fading. I do not know every student in the school anymore. It is easier for kids to fade into the woodwork and not get the support or attention they need. It is easier for people to not care about each other because there is a growing anonymity. We still have a good school but we need to start breaking it into smaller more family size pieces (like the teams of 10 at Englewood that allow everyone involved to connect and eventually really care about the other members of the group).

I think involving the parents whenever possible is great but there are more than a few disinterested, narcissistic parents out there. Holding them accountable by consistently informing them is a good idea but it will obviously not help every child. In some cases they are more cared for at school than they are at home.

"Another design flaw is that all the power issues are between the teacher and her students. The students can and often do gang up on her. They certainly take no responsibility for either themselves or each other. Their learning and their behaviour are her job not theirs."

-this quote from your post is almost a direct copy of something a teacher said to me yesterday! We are thinking as a staff about ways to overcome this attitude and give the students a chance to care about themselves and their education. Drawing connections to the real world of work and life after school almost always is effective but it is not always evident to the teachers yet. When a student starts to see what they might want to do for a career they seem to instantly get focused and discover the skills and motivation needed to succeed.

I also really like Randy and Kent's spin that it is not "Change" but "adapting" and "growing" that matter. They are right, no one likes change (or even the thought of it!) but it is hard to be seen as working against adapting and growing, so people will much more naturally buy in. I think this is more than semantic, I think when teachers start to think in these terms great things start to happen. It is our job as administrators to facilitate this by encouraging them and by removing as many barriers as possible.

Thanks for sharing a success story in the making.

William M Sargeant

There is nothing more pleasing to read than stories about the future generation taking advantage of the opertunity of learning.

I was interested to read of the different grades being brought together, something which I believe is a very positive way to encourage children to interrelate with each other.

This took me back to when I was a child starting school at 4 years of age in Wales.
During the first three years in school we would have a mixed class with the next grade up on one day of each month.

The interaction enabled us younger ones to talk and play with children a year older and gain advanced notice on what to expect in the class we were going to move up into.

Back 50 years ago the knowledge we had to take in was reasonably straight forward ie;
Reading, Writing and Mathematics compared to the volume of learning required by school children today.

Present ruling for children starting school in P.E.I. is that they must reach the age of
6 years on the 1st of September before being allowed to attend school!

I have two grand children living on the Island and both their birthdays are in September which means they will both be weeks away from 7 years of age before they can start school.

I understand the need for a cut-off date to start school, but almost 7 years without a formal introduction to education and groups of children cannot be beneficial for children in their early learning years.

Is there no way the powers that be on the Island can introduce two school entries per year or better still reducing the starting age to 4 or 5 on the 1st of September each year?

I do not know who else to ask about the school starting age of children on the Island

Thank you for your positive story.

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