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Following the announcement of the provincial government's return to school plan, please see this video message for parents, students and staff from Surrey Schools Superintendent Jordan Tinney.
"We’ve had a chance to dive into the details of the framework for opening schools in September. In my last message, we were just wanting you to know that we had received the main announcement of what the opening of schools should look like and we have been working hard on our plans for running schools in cohorts. I want to talk more about cohorts and what it means for the planning in our schools and for our staff and students," says Tinney.
The health and safety of all students, staff and school communities is our top priority. In consultation with public health officials and the provincial government, Surrey Schools is closely monitoring the situation with regard to COVID-19 and its impact on schools. We will provide updated information as it becomes available.
Everyone's trying to beat the summer heat, and there's no better time than now to cool down with a book in the shade.
National Relaxation Day is this Saturday, so kick back with a new book and take it easy with one of our teacher-librarian's latest summer reading suggestions.
Surrey Schools has polled several teacher-librarians for a weekly summer reading series, asking for their recommended reads for July and August. This week, Janine Gleeson, teacher-librarian at L.A. Matheson Secondary, shares her literary recommendations for intermediate and secondary students, all available at the Surrey Public Library and Fraser Valley Regional Library in hard copy or as e-books.
A Good Girl's Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson (Grades 9+) – "The perfect murder mystery to binge read this summer!" says Gleeson, suggesting it for anyone who enjoyed One if Us is Lying and the podcast Serial. In it, high school senior Pippa Fitz-Amobi reinvestigates a local murder case gone cold for her capstone project, but not everyone likes her pursuing old leads…
Snapdragon by Lat Leyh (Grade 5+) – The story of a young girl who becomes friends with a local witch, and comes to discover she possesses her own magical powers. "This quirky little graphic novel is everything you need right now!" says Gleeson. "Wholesome story, great diversity, beautiful artwork, and a dash of magic."
Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen (Grade 9+) – "Just the summer fling you've been looking for – a heartfelt, coming of age novel full of romance, rebellion, and identity," says Gleeson. The story follows Ever Wong, a student sent by her parents to Taiwan to study Mandarin over the summer. She expected a strict classes, but they're anything but – instead, they're Loveboat.
Gleeson also shared a few rules of thumb to keep up summer reading:
You can also check out more recommended books for youth from École Salish Secondary teacher-librarian Tammy Le here, as well as see all the winners of our Surrey Schools readers' choice book awards programs.
In addition to academic courses, Surrey Schools offered a variety of other remote and safely distanced programs to students this summer, such as this self-defence and self-care program for girls.
The district's Summer Learning program saw more than 5,500 Surrey and White Rock students in virtual classrooms, taking more than 6,000 full credit courses and 1,000 remedial courses.
This year, Surrey Schools ran most of its Summer Learning programs in July remotely, offering courses through Microsoft Teams to thousands of students. Full credit courses are offered to students who haven't taken the course before, while remedial are for students who have taken the course already but want to increase their knowledge or improve their mark.
Additionally, more than 150 vulnerable and at-risk learners attended courses through a hybrid model of remote learning and physically distanced face-to-face instruction.
Of the full credit and remedial courses, more than 200 were taken by international students who reside in Surrey. Adult students also took more than 600 courses.
Guildford Park Secondary opened as a new summer school site this year, allowing more than 300 courses to be taken by students with physical distancing measures in place.
Summer Learning ran a number of programs in collaboration with Education Services School, Student Support and Safe Schools. They also collaborated with the Welcome Centre for English Language Learners to offer instruction to more than 40 students, as well as Aboriginal Learning for aboriginal math courses.
Programs offered through Surrey's Safe Schools department (in partnership with Yo Bro/Yo Girl Youth Initiative) included a female-only youth group that met at Princess Margaret Secondary through July, focusing on self-defence and self-care. Surrey students also met at L.A. Matheson Secondary over the past month, with children from nearby elementary schools (below) getting together for plenty of physical activity, as well as mentorship programs.
Check out our recent story about electronics and animation courses we offered virtually!
August 9 is National Book Lovers Day, and Surrey School District's teacher-librarians have some great book suggestions to celebrate as part of our weekly summer reading series.
Surrey Schools has polled several teacher-librarians, asking for their recommended reads for July and August. This week, Tammy Le, teacher-librarian at École Salish Secondary, shares her literary recommendations for teenagers – from romcoms to dystopian thrillers!
The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu – "For those of you who love Marie Lu, you will be ecstatic to know that she has a new book out! This one is a fantasy historical novel about the other Mozart. While we all know about the famous Wolfgang Mozart, we know nothing about his sister, Nannerl, who was equally talented. Lu dives into the world of magic with Nannerl's desperation to be remembered forever."
Frankly in Love by David Yoon – "This is a romantic comedy about a boy named Frank Li who is a Korean-American teenager. His parents have traditional and high expectations for him in school and in love. They expect him to date a Korean girl and when he falls in love with Brit Means, who is white, he decides to not tell them. Instead, he conspires with a family friend, Joy Song, to pretend that they are dating to satisfy his parents' expectations and also to allow him to continue his dates with Brit. Unfortunately, things get complicated!"
The Grace Year by Kim Liggett – "For those of you who enjoyed Lord of the Flies and The Handmaid's Tale where you just don't know which way humanity goes, then you just might like this one. In this dystopian world, girls may have magic like witches that need to be dispelled before returning as a woman. As a result, when they turn 16, they are taken to a camp far outside the safety of their village to release their powers and survive for the year. Some return and some never do while others have permanent scars but no one ever talks about it. They just pray for the best. We follow Tierney as she heads to this camp with the rest of the girls to survive the year and try to make it back alive."
Get your hands on these gripping novels at the Surrey Public Library and Fraser Valley Regional Library, in hard copy or as e-books.
You can also check out recommended books for K-7 students from Riverdale Elementary teacher-librarian Marilyn Carr here, as well as see all the winners of our Surrey Schools readers' choice book awards programs.
Following the July 29 announcement of the provincial government's return to school plan, please see this video message for parents, students and staff from Surrey Schools Superintendent Jordan Tinney.
"Yesterday, the Government announced a plan to open schools in September and I wanted to provide an update on some of the central elements of the announcement, what it means for us and what we will begin doing to plan for September when our students arrive back to school," says Tinney.
"I want to highlight what we heard in the announcement for September and I want to underscore that the new plan has only just been announced and there is lots for us to digest and to consider as we move forward. For this message, I've chosen to comment on a couple key items that will shape your child's education and the structures of our schools."
Vancouver Pride 2020 - SD36 from
Surrey Schools on
Surrey Schools will be showing its pride in the Vancouver Pride Parade on Sunday, Aug. 2 – only this time, it will all be held virtually.
"This year marks the first time we have participated in Vancouver Pride, one of the largest Pride events in the world and the oldest in Canada," said Rachel Friederich, Inclusive Practices Helping Teacher, noting the district has participated in Surrey Pride for many years.
With this year's parade being held virtually, the district has prepared a brief video (above) showcasing its efforts to promote inclusion and a sense of belonging among LGBTQ+ youth. The video features photos from the districtwide Pride Prom (going into its fourth year), the rainbow crossing between the District Education Centre (DEC) and Resource & Education Centre (REC), and staff and students celebrating and supporting Pride.
Friederich said the district has taken big steps toward welcoming and accepting LGBTQ+ youth with the implementation of the
Safe and Caring Schools policy, staff training on gender identity development and gender-affirming approaches, awareness campaigns and accessible gender-neutral washrooms and changerooms.
"We have an inclusive school policy, regular training in
SOGI-inclusive language, practices and atmosphere," she said, "(as well as) teams of teachers who meet regularly and work together to make their schools SOGI-inclusive. We celebrate Pink Shirt Day, Day of Pink and the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia."
For more information on the district's Safe and Caring Schools policies and regulations,
Whether the sun is out and calling your name, or it's an indoor day and you're trying to keep busy, there's always a good time to sit down with a book this summer.
Surrey Schools has polled several teacher-librarians for a weekly summer reading series, asking for their recommended reads for July and August. This week, Marilyn Carr, teacher-librarian at Riverdale Elementary, shares her literary recommendations for elementary students, from kindergarten through Grade 7, all available at the
Surrey Public Library and
Fraser Valley Regional Library in hard copy or as e-books.
Ray by Marianna Coppo (picture book, K-3) – From the creator of
Petra, Marianna Coppo writes and illustrates a truly enlightening story about a lightbulb named Ray that goes from living in a dark closet to seeing the world in a portable lantern. Ray's trip takes him on a journey of discovery that changes his outlook on life forever.
All the Impossible Things by Lindsay Lackey (Gr. 4-7) – A fantastic book with a lot of heart about Red, a young girl going through foster care and trying to find a sense of belonging. Possessing an inexplicable power over the wind whenever she's angry or scared, Red causes the wind to pick up with every new placement with a new family. And just as she settles in with a quirky couple, another storm blows in – this time, in the form of her returning mother. This book is thought-provoking and a tearjerker, so a box of Kleenex is recommended.
Hamstersaurus Rex by Tom O'Donnell (Gr. 4-7) – Who knew a class pet could be so ferocious? The first in a series about a Grade 6 class and their pet hamster,
Hamstersaurus Rex features an overzealous Hamster Monitor, a very mean school bully, an "evil" corporation and a giant squirrel, as well as tons of laughs. Expect the unexpected in this one!
Carr suggests looking online for other digital reading resources, like
Surrey Schools eBooks,
Scholastic Bookflix and the
B.C. Summer Reading Club. There are tons of reading opportunities outside of your local library!
You can also check out recommended books for intermediate and preteen readers from Coyote Creek Elementary teacher-librarian Kaija Farstad
here, as well as see all the winners of our Surrey Schools
readers' choice book awards programs.
Using Microsoft Teams, a document camera and wireless headset, Adam Drake teaches his daily summer electronics course to about 16 Surrey students who are live online with him. Below right are a series of images created by student Barinder Bahia, who is taking a separate animation course this summer, taught online by Josh Erickson.
More than 30 Surrey secondary students are spending July learning specialized skills in two new live virtual summer programs – and earning credits toward graduation while they're at it.
With ongoing restrictions and limitations related to COVID-19, "we decided to focus on just a few courses," says principal Doug Litke, who's overseeing the programs.
Two of those courses are animation and electronics, which are being taught synchronously (live, online) for four hours every weekday morning all month.
"Students check in every morning – they're live with the teacher and watch what they're doing," says Litke. "They're able to have conversations and can chat or ask questions directly."
Electronics, offered in partnership with SFU, provides students both theoretical and hands-on experience with analog and digital electronics, binary and programmable interface controllers, and more.
In late June, teacher Adam Drake prepared and delivered toolboxes for students, packed with all the necessary components and equipment. Now into the third week, he's impressed with his students' dedication and how quickly they're learning.
"These kids are doing really, really well," he says, adding they all diligently log on for class each morning at 8:15 a.m. "This sort of elective summer school is brilliant because these students want to be here."
Drake has a document camera so students can see demonstrations, and a hands-free microphone so he can explain what he's doing in real time. Students are able to post photos, explain problems they may be having and are encouraged to help one another by sharing ideas and solutions.
"The purpose of this is to whet appetites and get kids thinking 'wow, this is so cool'," says Drake, who teaches at Kwantlen Park Secondary during the school year. "I love teaching and love seeing kids face to face in classrooms and in the hallways – but this isn't half bad."
Teacher Josh Erickson's Animation course is project-based and introduces students to basic animation and game development. His 16 students are developing their own original characters and learning programming logic to have their character complete actions, interact with other objects and appear alive.
Erickson says teaching animation online is working great, as he can use screen sharing for demonstrations, as well as to trouble shoot and monitor student progress.
"I would not hesitate to do it again," he says. "The students are responding well to it, too, and have produced some wonderful animations."
Grade 10-12 students were referred to the summer programs by career facilitators at various Surrey secondary schools, and earn four credits upon completion. The courses, Litke says, also help students stay connected during summer break.
"I'm part of the team, so I can pop into classes and see how it's going," says Litke. "It looks like they're having a great time!"
Above are still images by students Dawson Ho (left) and Param Shergill (right), who are are taking Surrey Schools' summer animation course.
We may be a few weeks into July, but it's never too late to pick up a book and get into summer reading!
Surrey Schools has polled several teacher-librarians for a weekly summer reading series, asking for their recommended reads for July and August.
Kaija Farstad, teacher-librarian at Coyote Creek Elementary, chose three wonderful books for intermediate readers and preteens, all available at the
Surrey Public Library and
Fraser Valley Regional Library in hard copy or as e-books. Check out her recommendations and comments below:
Pie in the Sky by Remy Lai – "If you make one of these pies or cakes, I want a piece! This book talks about what it's like to be the older sibling, to move to a new country whose language you don't speak, to lose a parent, to miss your home with all your heart, and how confusing English is. There's something for everyone in this charming, delicious-sounding book for those who can read at a Grade 4 level and up!"
Go With the Flow by Lily Williams & Karen Schneemann – "Finally, a book that talks normally about real life, including getting your period. This is the first book to deal with menstruation since
Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret was published 50 years ago. Everyone – boys and girls, kids and teens – will love this book!"
Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes – "This is a shocking, touching, accessible book that has been approved for Grades 4 and up. If you haven't read it, you're missing out on a lot of who we are, including our current social uprisings. The book alternates voices from the main character after he's been killed by a white police officer while playing in the park, and before. The hardest part for him isn't the death or even watching his family, it's that the only one who can see and speak with his ghost is a girl his own age: the daughter of the man who shot him."
Farstad also recommends students take advantage of Project Gutenberg, an online library with digital versions of more than 60,000 books with expired copyrights. "There are some amazing books in there, like A Girl of the Limberlost, Freckles and The Secret Garden that can keep kids busy all summer exploring different times, places, and personas!" she says.
You can also check out all the winners of our four Surrey Schools readers' choice awards programs for more book recommendations for all ages and reading levels.