Success of Botha School hailed

Botha School has been lauded for its effective leadership to help students under the Alberta Initiative for School Improvement (AISI).

Botha School has been lauded for its effective leadership to help students under the Alberta Initiative for School Improvement (AISI).

Views about the schools’ growth and development over the past four years were presented by the Botha AISI 2010 team and principal Peter Weeks to a standing-room-only audience at the 10th annual AISI conference in Edmonton on Feb. 8.

“Reaction from the session has been very positive,” said Weeks.

“In addition to many positive verbal comments, particularly as to how well-spoken and self-aware our students are, Botha School, Big Valley School and the Clearview School Division were singled out for mention and praise in the closing comments on the conference, the remarks coming as a thank you from the director of school improvement branch of Alberta Education.”

“It was a pleasure and a privilege to work with you and your team, “ Alberta Education school improvement manager Deb McFarlane-Smith said in an email to Weeks.

“What a first-class act you had! I . . . could see how impressed everyone was.”

“Kudos to all of the Clearview students and staff who participated.”

The session entitled “Why We’re Celebrating Our Engagement: Students and Parents Speak Out About Real World Literacy was very popular as educators, academics and government officials don’t often get to hear the real voices of these groups in an open honest dialogue.

The session featured the authentic voices of Botha School students, alumni and parents as they told the story of their school’s Real World Literacy project.

A short student-created video provided the background and context of the student learning that took place during Botha’s three years of cross-grade, cross-curriculum, inquiry-based literacy projects.

This was followed by a panel of grades 4 and 5 students, parents, and grade 6 Botha alumni, who told how this project positively affected learning, as well as sharing their concerns and suggestions as to how to better prepare our students for transitions to other schools.

The team had a very successful dry-run, honing their presentation by sharing with the Stettler Middle School staff during an embedded professional development time.

“Our thanks go out to the Botha AISI 2010 team,” said Weeks.

Botha School’s cross-curriculum, cross-grade inquiry- learning work has been featured in presentations provincially at the AISI, English Language Arts Council (ELAC), Leading and Learning conferences and the central east teachers’ convention, nationally at the Canadian Rural Education Congress in Saskatoon and the International Conference on Learning in Barcelona Spain.

The school’s work has been featured in articles in the academic journals Alberta Voices and most recently, the International Journal of Learning and has been studied as part of larger research studies being undertaken at the University of Calgary and Boston College.