Elm Street Elementary recently received word that it is the only recipient east of Ontario of the Welcome to Kindergarten Award for Partnership Excellence.
“We’re really proud of their work and leadership at the school,” said English Language School Board superintendent Jane McMillan. “Elm Street is being recognized for going the extra mile.”
The award, which will be presented to the school in January, comes with a $1,000 cash prize, said the school’s principal, Tracy Beaulieu.
“We were really excited,” said Beaulieu. “We already purchased different pieces of technology that we can use with all students in the school. That’s been spent before we received the money. We are looking at raising money for Smartboards. We have bought some iPads that we are using in the resource program.”
Beaulieu, speech language pathologist Corrie Urghart-Lynch and parents Jennifer Birch and Tammy MacInnis collaborated on the nomination for the national award.
“As schools opened their doors to kindergarten, there was uncertainly blanketing the province with regards to how this transition would unfold. The strong desire to have new kindergarten teachers supported, classes ready and children and families being offered the best experience possible was the goal,” Beaulieu wrote in last September’s nomination letter. “One way to build comfort and confidence in our school community was to invite families to a Welcome to Kindergarten evening.”
The evening allowed incoming kindergarten children and their parents and guardians to come into the school, meet teachers from all grade levels, see the classrooms and even ride the bus for the first time.
“It’s not just the kindergarten teachers that do this evening,” Beaulieu said Wednesday. “A lot of people make this evening happen.”
Several community agencies also participated including Canadian Parents for French, Home and School, community libraries, speech language pathologists and police who, with staff members, signed guests in at the beginning of the evening.
“A lot of people come to make it a great evening to welcome parents and students,” said Beaulieu.
Students were given name tags with a coloured sticker and passport representing the group they would be with for the night. At each station, passports were stamped.
There was a reading station, which emphasized the importance of talking to children in rhymes and playing word games, and a cutting station, which observed children’s motor skills when using scissors, paper and glue.
Snacks were provided and a Public Health nurse spoke about the importance of healthy eating and the youngsters with their parents got a ride on a school bus.
At the end of the night, children were provided with a Welcome to Kindergarten bag, which contained all the information they needed for their first day of class.
Beaulieu said the fun and informative evening was held in the spring before incoming kindergarten children came to the school for their assessments “so that their first experience at a school is a positive one and that they would have already seen these teachers and they are not complete strangers.”
“We are going to continue it that way because we do think it makes a difference.”
There are currently 53 students enrolled in kindergarten at Elm Street.
A FEW FACTS
- Five awards handed out nationally by The Learning Partnership.
- Awards launched to recognize individuals, agencies and/or school teams who have demonstrated excellence in community/school collaboration, providing support to children and parents and advocating for the Welcome to Kindergarten program.
- Welcome to Kindergarten is designed to help prepare preschoolers for a positive start to their school journey. Parents and their children attend spring and fall orientation sessions where they receive early learning and literacy resources.
- Since 2004, more than 450,000 children and families have taken part
- The Learning Partnership is a national charitable organization dedicated to championing a strong public education system in Canada.
- Since 1993, more than 4.9 million students and teachers have participated in one or more of its programs, including Take Our Kids to Work, Welcome to Kindergarten and Change Your Future.