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Jul 15
Film project aims to bridge the gap between youth and seniors

​The Surrey School District's Safe Schools Department has joined forces with the City of Surrey and Tell Your Story Productions Inc. for a community video and story-sharing project involving youth and seniors in Surrey.

What Generation Gap? aims to bring teens and seniors together to form new bonds. Twelve youth aged 15 to 18 are being supported by the Safe Schools Department to participate in the program, in which they will be strategically paired with a WhatGenerationGap.JPGsenior citizen from the community.

As the participants get to know one another, the teens will each direct and create two videos: one sharing their own story and a second sharing the story of their senior partner.

The final films will be shown at a public gala on July 23 at the Surrey Arts Centre. The films ­– along with a short behind-the-scenes documentary – will made available on the project website (www.whatgenerationgap.com) the same day and will be on Telus Optik Local TV Video on Demand by August 2016.

Mangla Bansal is the owner of Tell Your Story Productions. The concept for What Generation Gap? was inspired by her longtime friendship with 104-year-old Kay Charter. The pair's friendship began after a newspaper article was published about Mangla when she was a teen. Charter responded with an encouraging email and the two quickly became pen pals. They now have a unique friendship where age is irrelevant and they view one another as equals. Both women have learned how much youth and seniors can benefit from such relationships. While young people face many challenges, seniors are an equally vulnerable population.

For more information on the project or to get on the guest list for the gala event, email tellyourstoryproductions@gmail.com

Jul 12
After-school sport programs garner Premier's Award

The Surrey School District has been recognized by the provincial government for its commitment to helping vulnerable students participate in sports and arts programs.

The After School Sport and Arts Initiative was selected to receive the 2015 Premier's Award for Innovation in the Interior/North region of B.C. The award recognizes individuals, teams or organizations that have designed or redesigned how public programs or services are delivered so that clients, the public service or citizens benefit.

As part of the initiative, Surrey's Community Schools department has helped plan, deliver and expand programs such as the Canadian Tire Jumpstart Academy and Play On.

Offered in 27 elementary schools, Jumpstart is an after-school sport and recreation program developed to create opportunities for students who don't have the means to participate in organized sport and recreation outside of school hours.

Play On is a weekly adapted after-school program for elementary school children with physical and cognitive disabilities that focuses on physical literacy and expressive art programs and is offered at seven Surrey schools.

"We are proud to support programming that meets the needs and interests of students within your schools who face barriers to sports and arts participation," said Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development Peter Fassbender in a congratulatory letter to the Surrey School District.

 ​ASSAIPremiersaward.jpg

(Left to right) Community Schools program facilitators Stefan Leslie and Silas Goddard, Community Schools manager Sukh Shergill and District Supt. Jordan Tinney celebrate receiving the 2015 Premier`s Award for Innovation.

Jun 17
Surrey Board of Education adding 160 district jobs in 2016-17 preliminary budget

With 780 more students projected to be attending district schools in September, the Surrey Board of Education plans to hire an additional 70 teachers and 81 education assistants for the 2016-2017 school year. Two school administrators, four professional staff and four support staff are also to be hired, bringing a total of 161 additional staff to the district.

Despite significant increases in enrolment, with a total of 71,115 students is projected for September, Surrey Schools expects to continue to have the lowest proportion of its operating budget spent on district administration in the province at just 2.11 per cent.

The board faced a $6.7 million deficit to duplicate existing programs and service levels for next year. However, the board's surplus of $6.3 million this year from unspent funds for snow clearing, unfilled positions and utility costs, as well as district revenues, will cover most of the deficit.

Last month, the Ministry of Education announced $25 million in redirected administrative savings would be returned to schools districts with Surrey Schools receiving $3.1 million. These funds will be used to offset the maintenance costs for the Next Generation Network fees of the same amount applied by the province.

"While we can't depend on surpluses every year in order to balance our budget, I'm pleased the board is in a position to be able to add staff in support of the students of the Surrey School District," says Surrey Board of Education Budget Committee chairperson Terry Allen.

​Operating funds, along with special purpose and other funds, amount to a $722.7 million total 2016-17 preliminary budget. The final school district operating grant will be based on the September 30, 2016 enrolment count and any adjustments to the preliminary budget will be made after that date. All figures have been rounded.

Jun 17
French Immersion program at crowded Woodward Hill Elementary to be reduced in 2017

Due to ongoing school enrolment pressures in the South Newton neighbourhood of Surrey, the Surrey Board of Education has voted unanimously to reduce the French Immersion program at École Woodward Hill Elementary from two kindergarten classes to one, beginning September 2017. Over subsequent years, the effect will be to eliminate one full "stream" of K-7 French Immersion classes.

Woodward Hill, located at 6082 142 St., has both French Immersion and English students. There are currently more than 300 children in the French Immersion program, comprising almost half of the school's student population. Approximately 20 of those students live in the catchment area of Woodward Hill.

The one-class reduction will not affect existing French Immersion students at the school and siblings will be grandfathered in, giving them first priority for new intake into the language program.

The change is being implemented to ensure that in the coming years, there are available spaces at the elementary school for students living within the catchment area, located in one of the fastest-growing neighbourhoods in the city.

French Immersion is one of many programs of choice offered by the Surrey School District. There are now seven elementary schools offering early French Immersion. Cougar Creek Elementary (12236 70A Ave.) is the newest addition. As of this week, there are 16 students registered for the new program, with enrolment expected to increase prior to the start of the 2016-2017 school year in September.

Trustees seek choice program review

At the June 16 public board meeting, the Surrey Board of Education also approved a motion presented by Trustee Laurae McNally to devote the first trustee meeting of the upcoming school year to analyzing all choice programs, considering capacity, boundaries and policy revisions in terms of the school district's long range facilities and education plan.​

Lack of capacity, said McNally, results in ongoing challenges to expanding and sustaining Surrey's programs of choice and the board must continually consider moving programs, which is a disruption to school communities.

Jun 15
Tamanawis students win stock market contest

Four Tamanawis Secondary students out-invested 1,650 teams from across Canada in a recent online stock market simulation contest, doubling their money in just six weeks.

The competition featured a game in which participants were given $100,000 to buy stocks from the Toronto Stock Exchange, Nasdaq and New York Stock Exchange. At the end of it, the investments made by Grade 11 students Gurjot Waraich, Haider Tauseef, Harjap Thandi and Karan Dhillon of team Corn Hub rose higher than any other team's, leaving them with a final portfolio of $202,288 and the Invest JA competition win.

Corn Hub's closest competitor was a team from Calgary's West Island College, which ended with a $192,106 portfolio.


JA Tamanwis.jpg
Left to right: Karan Dhillon, Harjap Thandi, Junior Achievement CEO Jan Bell-Irving, Haider Tauseef and Gurjot Waraich

Each year, Accounting 11 and 12 classes at the Surrey secondary school take part in the Investment Strategies Program through Junior Achievement (JA), an organization dedicated to educating youth about business and inspiring them to succeed in the global economy. During the classes, students work with mentors from the business community to learn about investing.

The four Tamanawis students were invited to attend the Junior Achievement Awards Ceremony at SFU's Beedie School of Business to receive their award.

The full list of team rankings can be viewed here: https://investja.org/private/game/rankings
Jun 13
Superintendent's parent letter: Changes for 2016-2017

​Dear Parents,

As you know, education in BC has been undergoing many changes. These changes are the results of years of collaborative work between our education partners and the Ministry of Education. The purpose of this note is to highlight important changes as we head toward the fall. One of the most significant changes for our secondary schools is the change to provincial exams. These changes will alter the exam structure and equally as important will alter calendars at the end of January and in June of next year.

Provincial exams

For several years, we have tested core skills in grades 10, 11 and 12. Specifically, the subject areas tested are:

  1. English, Math and Science in grade 10;
  2. Social Studies in grade 11; and
  3. English in grade 12.

A student's final grade was always a blend of the trusted teacher assessments and the provincial exam. In grades 10 and 11, the teacher's classroom-based assessments counted for 80% of a student's final grade and the exam counted for 20%. In grade 12, the teacher's assessment counted for 60% and the exam counted for 40%. The provincial exams themselves have always been designed and written by teachers, and marked by teachers.

Beginning in 2016/17 there will be no provincial exams in grades 10. This does not mean that there are no standards and no expectations. Instead, rather than 80% of a student's mark being from the teacher, 100% of the mark will be based on teacher assessments. This is not a radical departure from practice and reaffirms our trust in teachers' classroom-based assessments which formed the vast bulk of a student's marks in any case and has always been based on the standards in our provincial curriculum.

Beginning 2016/17, in grades 11 and 12, students will still have 2 provincial exams. One exam in numeracy (math) and one exam in literacy (English).

For 2016/17 while the creation of a new numeracy exam is underway, there is no change to the English 12 provincial exam which follows the current curriculum.​

Calendar Changes

Parents and students are used to a "Provincial Exam Schedule" at the end of January, which is semester turnaround, and in June, which marks the end of the year. These schedules often resulted in many days where students were not fully in session as exams were being written. Many students wrote exams and many students did not. Specifically, the last week of January and the last two weeks of June were primarily for exams. The above change to exams will certainly change how we do semester turnaround and year-end given that the number of exams is being reduced.

As is our normal practice, we are reaching out to teachers and to our administrators to discuss what these changes look like. When we know for certain the structure of the dates, we will be communicating to parents. This news does not mean a shorter school year; what it likely means is more "full" days in session in the coming year. Again, the full details are to be discussed and will be communicated.

For those headed to post-secondary institutions, we have worked closely with our post-secondary partners and these changes were considered in light of recommendations from an Advisory Group on Provincial Assessments (AGPA) that was co-chaired by representatives of UBC and Simon Fraser University. Not only has post-secondary been part of the conversations, they have helped shape these changes and have been important partners in the process.

There are other changes, but we wanted to communicate this piece to parents as soon as possible so they are aware of the Ministry changes to provincial exams and the implications for next year. As stated above, teachers have always been central to the process of creating and marking provincial exams and the bulk of student marks were always based on classroom assessments. Students will still have standardized assessments in literacy and numeracy before they leave secondary school. We trust our teachers, we stand by the quality of their work and their classroom assessments and, from a district perspective, the changes to exams are welcome changes indeed.

Sincerely,

Jordan Tinney
Superintendent of Schools/CEO

May 13
Staff groups pursue “Pro-D” day

Through-out the district, May 6 was a busy day, with virtually all staff groups participating in a variety of professional development day, or Pro-D day learning sessions.

Surrey teachers participated in the annual Surrey Teachers' Association Convention. The STA convention is the largest teacher-led professional development event in B.C. It is fully organized and funded by the Surrey Teachers' Association. Thousands of teachers attended events at Johnston Heights Secondary, Kwanten Park Secondary, K.B. Woodward Elementary, Mountainview Montessori and David Brankin Elementary.

Staff groups Pro-D Richard Wagamese web.jpg

(Photo: Native​ author Richard Wagamese speaking at the STA Convention)

This year, the STA Convention theme was Changing Our Ways​​: Weaving Threads of Truth and Reconciliation Throughout our Practice. The event featured keynote addresses from Richard Wagamese, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, and Susan Aglukark. There were also over 200 workshops on a wide range of educational topics, including embedding Aboriginal perspectives and knowledge into classroom teaching.

For CUPE support staff, several sessions were tailored to the work of specific staff, such as clerical, custodial, maintenance, education assistants, systems support and more.

Training was therefore varied; from time management, software courses and the MyEd student information system, to trauma-sensitive schooling, communication dynamics and connecting with autistic students as presented by autistic guest speaker Alexander Magnussen.

​District school administrators, through the Surrey Principals and Vice-Principals Association (SPVPA) held their own Pro-D day. They heard from renowned developmental psychologist and speaker Dr. Gordon Neufeld. Dr. Neufeld has more than 40 years of experience with children and youth and is a foremost authority on child development.

May 05
School district seeks community views on populating new school

​Thousands of students and parents are being asked for their views as Surrey Schools prepares for the opening of a new state-of-the-art secondary school.

When the school at 7278 – 184 St. in the Clayton area of Surrey opens in 2018 it will ease overcrowding at École Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary and Clayton Heights Secondary. Those schools are running at 149 per cent and 133 per cent of capacity respectively.

Surrey Schools is asking the Clayton and Cloverdale communities for their views as it develops new catchment boundaries to balance student numbers between the three schools. The review will also consider where the secondary French Immersion program for the area should be located.

New Clayton Area School_web.jpg 

(School design and renderings by KMBR Architects & Planners)

A dedicated website – www.placespeak.com/new-clayton-secondary – has been launched to explain the process, to share the options explored by Surrey Schools and to gather public feedback via an online survey. Students at elementary schools in the Clayton and Cloverdale area, and Grade 8 and 9 students at Clayton Heights and Lord Tweedsmuir, have been given information packages to take home.

Furthermore, Surrey Schools is hosting a series of community forums to share information about the potential boundary changes. Each forum runs from 6.30 p.m. to 8 p.m.:

  • May 9 at Clayton Heights (Clayton Heights, Hazelgrove and Katzie families)
  • May 10 at Lord Tweedsmuir (Lord Tweedsmuir families)
  • May 11 at Lord Tweedsmuir (Sunrise Ridge, Martha Currie, Surrey Centre and Cloverdale Traditional families)
  • May 16 at Lord Tweedsmuir (Don Christian, Adams Road, George Greenaway and A.J. McLellan families)
  • May 17 at Clayton Heights (Port Kells, Clayton, Hillcrest and Latimer Road families)

Families are being encouraged to attend the specific evening for their own school in order to balance forum attendance numbers for each meeting. However, as the information presented at each forum will be the same, they can attend another evening if that suits them better.

The consultation period runs until June 14, 2016.

May 03
New secretary-treasurer to lead B.C.'s largest school district

Burnaby School District secretary-treasurer, D. Greg Frank has been chosen by the Surrey Board of Education to succeed retiring secretary-treasurer Wayne Noye, effective August 1, 2016.

Mr. Frank CA, CPA has been secretary-treasurer with the Burnaby School District for 16 years.  Prior to that, he was the secretary-treasurer for Nanaimo-Ladysmith School District.

"Mr. Frank was among several talented and knowledgeable individuals presented to the board to evaluate and select from," says Surrey Board of Education chairperson Shawn Wilson.  "In Mr. Frank we have someone who not only has the necessary experience and expertise, but also someone who has vast experience with governance and negotiations with government and various stakeholders. We anticipate that Mr. Frank will be an excellent fit for the district and we look forward to working with him."

​The board's selection concludes an extensive, nation-wide search conducted by an executive recruitment firm.

Apr 28
Fraser Heights Secondary wins district’s 2016 Conservation Cup

District and environment also winners from student energy conservation efforts​

As the largest school district in the province, Surrey Schools has an important leadership role to play when it comes to inspiring future generations. Projects and services to promote sustainability have been part of the Surrey culture for many years, and energy conservation has been a foundational element of the districts sustainability efforts.

One of the annual sustainability projects is called the Energy Conservation Cup, which is a six-month competition between secondary schools to see which one can save the most energy. Each school is rewarded points for both energy savings and participation in conservation programs throughout the year, with the highest scoring school winning the Cup. The "Elite Eight" energy savers compete for the Cup in "Finals Week". This year's competition came down to the wire. Although Queen Elizabeth Secondary saved the most during the final week, Fraser Heights Secondary came out on top as the overall 2016 Energy Conservation Cup winner and Sullivan Heights Secondary placed a close second. Fraser Heights saved an incredible 5.8% of their average energy use.  

"We were surprised that we won! It showed us that the small actions that we take every day really do add up. " said Natasha Zhang, a student leader at Fraser Heights.

Representatives from the Surrey School District, BC Hydro and energy intelligence software provider EnerNOC were all on had to present the Energy Conservation Cup trophy to students and staff at Fraser Heights just in time for Earth Day. In addition to bragging rights for the next year, Fraser Heights will receive $1,000 from the superintendent's office to support ongoing conservation and student leadership initiatives in their school.

Saving energy is becoming part of daily life across the Surrey School District, with many different projects happening at both elementary and secondary schools. The Energy Conservation Cup drives home the message that reducing energy consumption is more than turning off the lights one day of the year. For energy conservation efforts to be effective, they need to be persistent over the long term. Staff and students work together to find creative ways of reaching their peers and showing them how they can change their habits to be more efficient.

"Energy conservation is about innovation and planning for the future, and those two skills are essential for the success of our students in any path they choose." said Jordan Tinney, Superintendent of Schools.

Over the last six months, Surrey Schools has reduced electrical energy consumption by 4.4% compared to baselines using historical data from the previous year. This amounts to a total of 403,800 kWh of energy saved by the schools so far this school year – enough electricity to power 36 homes for year. Simple choices, like unplugging electrical devices when they are not in use, turning down heating and cooling systems along with other actions such as recycling, composting and walking to school, make a big difference in reducing the districts' overall environmental footprint. ​

For inquiries about the Energy Conservation Cup, contact:

Tracy Blagdon, Manager, Energy Management & Sustainability

Ph:  604-595-6303

E-mail:  blagdon_t@surreyschools.ca


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