Stettler Elementary School was forced to hire another kindergarten teacher this year as enrolment so far exceeded predictions that a third class was needed.
There are 494 students at Stettler Elementary this year, up from last year and well above the projected number of students, which was 484.
Principal Sharon Fischer, who is principal for both the elementary and middle school in Stettler, said there’s no real concern about the Catholic School Board, which has Christ-King Catholic School right next door, poaching students. The concern about student loss to the Catholic board and home schooling was raised at the previous Clearview School Board Trustee meeting.
In the Middle School, which teaches grades 6-8, enrolment is down slightly from last year at 282. However, projections for enrolment in these grades was spot on, Fischer said.
The school board is currently studying the Stettler school complex, which is made up of Stettler Elementary and Middle School and William E. Hay Composite High School. Currently, grade-school curriculum runs from Kindergarten to Grade 9, with high school beginning in Grade 10 and running until Grade 12. However, the student enrolment policies at Stettler Schools has Grade 9 students studying under the umbrella of the high school.
Right now, the study is evaluating if the elementary and middle schools should be merged, or if grade distribution should change. While the study is ongoing, Fischer acts as principal for both grade schools – though should the school board choose to maintain the status quo, a principal would be hired for the elementary school with Fischer focusing primarily on the middle school.
Both the elementary and middle schools this year embark on the second year of the “Leader in Me” program, a leadership program that teaches students how to stand up for themselves and make responsible decisions. There’s a focus on bullying and what students can do to reduce the impact of the inevitable social curse.
“Whenever you have more than two or three students together, you will find bullying,” Fischer said. “It’d be foolish to say that we have no bullying at our schools. We always will, but how we deal with it is important.”
In order for the school to be able to address bullying problems, teachers or the principal need to be aware the problem is going on. It’s not always easily evident.
“Kids can be sneaky,” Fischer said.
One of the things Fischer said she liked about the Leader in Me program is how it addressed bullying and worked to make kids realize the impact of their actions, and encourages students to take responsibility for their actions.
“It’s basically teaching them to be quality people and good citizens,” she said.
The program is expensive for the schools, with the school spending two days a year on training on staff in the program. Each session, which has all teachers from both schools taking part, costs about $5,000.
Breaking that down amongst about 50 teachers lessens the pain of the cost, but seeing the smiling faces of the children every day, and seeing the results of the program, make it worth it, Fischer said.
“Students really benefit,” she said.
Kate Syson begins as vice principal at Stettler Elementary School
John Thorne is a new Grade 5 teacher this year. He was at Donalda School previously.
Amore Du Toit came on as a third Kindergarten teacher.
Becky-Jo Baltimore is the new librarian
Stefan Olafson switched from the elementary school to the middle school, where he now teaches Grade 8.
There are several new educational assistants (EAs) this year, but some are still in the process of being hired, so names were not available.