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School district review by government mostly positive

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The Howe Sound School District scored well in the government’s district review process.

"I was pleased with the overall report," said school superintendent Dr. Linda Rossler.

"Some districts have been considerably lower.

"It has set a baseline for us and we will be improving from here. We will be working on those things we need to be improving on as priorities and continuing to focus on student achievement."

The review praised Howe Sound’s early intervention program for at-risk students, teacher’s willingness to share new ideas, creative ways of communicating with parents and community partnerships such as breakfast programs and work experience sites.

Of particular note, said Rossler, was the parent teacher meetings set up at Totem Hall within the Squamish Nation.

"Howe Sound actually goes out to the reserve to meet parents because sometimes First Nation’s parents are hesitant to come to the school," said Rossler.

"The parents come to Totem Hall because it is a safe place so we are increasing the number of interviews with First Nation’s parents.

"It makes a big difference. Research tells us that if parents are involved in a child’s school then in fact student success is greater.

"When the school and home are co-operating it makes a difference. When they aren’t co-operating the student thinks they can do whatever they want."

But the review team, made up of a teacher, a principal, a ministry official, a parent and two administration staff, all from other districts, did point to some areas which needed work in order for the district to make a genuine difference in student achievement.

They include:

• Making explicit goals for the improvement of student achievements which are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely. The goals need to be reduced in number and must be clear and the district must continue to make early success a priority.

• The district must work as a team to improve student achievement in key areas including with Aboriginal communities.

• The district must continue to focus on using performance standards, classroom, school and district based assessments in addition to provincial data sources.

• The district must continue to develop simple systems for collecting, organizing and using data in a meaningful way to set goals, inform instruction, set targets and monitor results.

The review team also wants the Howe Sound district to share some of its great successes with other districts in B.C.

Meanwhile the school board has chosen a new principal for Spring Creek.

Linda Watson will start in the position Aug. 1. She plans to attend the next Myrtle Philip Parent Advisory Committee meeting May 20.

Watson has been an educator for over 26 years, 10 years as an administrator and 16 years as a teacher.

She is currently a principal in Kelowna.

Gerri Galloway, currently vice-principal at Myrtle Philip, will become vice-principal at Brackendale Elementary effective July 1.

The board has also decided that Whistler Secondary will continue to teach the Grade 7s next year.

It had been hoped that Grade 7 would move back to Myrtle Philip and Spring Creek. But uncertainty over the opening date of the new elementary school and pressures to arrange staffing and timetables at the high school scuttled the plan.

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