MESSAGE FROM SCHOOL PRINCIPAL
The design of a school, from its building specifications to the classes that operate within it, all contribute to how a culture lives and breaths. The Langdon School culture is exciting, generative and distinctive.
Our students begin in Kindergarten and leave our school at grade 9. These years in our school afford us the ability to know our students in ways many schools never do. We are able to follow them through the continuums of learning. This is distinctive to our school and serves to inform our direction. Culture here is generative, it moves in waves of current needs and goals. For example, this year our students in the upper middle levels of leadership desired to make more connections with the younger students and to influence the empathy of their peers. Why was this? I would say it is due to the reflection of the older students of their past years at Langdon. With this type of reflection arises empathy and mentorship. Because of our structure, it allows students to actively seek authentic mentorship and leadership opportunities in their own building.
A Letter for School Culture 2016
Dear Parents and Students,
Why do I bring a message to you today? I bring this message to you because I am seeing a general trend amongst our students in their understanding and application of “caring” and “empathy”. The trend tells us, that even though we teach about what it means to be a part of a community (e.g. How to make good choices in speech and behaviour and how to develop resiliency), a good number of students are not making theses connections in their lives. Over the years, I have read current research and have had many conversations both with educators and parents about why this trend is occurring with a good number of our population. There are so many factors that could be involved. We want to focus on how we can move ahead as a school, while addressing the various factors which could be holding us back.
There has been a long-standing history at Langdon School where we have sought to bring in numerous programs to help and assist with student wellness and school culture. Over the last 12 years, we have looked at half a dozen different programs which build resiliency, understanding of oneself, and one-to-one relationships. Yearly, we bring in speakers for students and teachers to address issues around understanding themselves, self-regulation and making a difference, both socially and emotionally. Teachers and students take great pride in pulling together school events to help students feel a sense of belonging. As a staff we bring in regular professional developed to increase our skills in teaching and understanding the whole child.
Over the last two weeks, I have had the opportunity to visit many classes and talk to students about our school goals and culture. This is something I do every year to engage the students and keep them in the know. For parents, we send out a school video to show where we are heading and why. This year, as I spoke with our students, I challenged them to think about what it means to be cared for and what it is like to care for others. This seems like a simple concept; however, for half of our middle-levels population, the understanding of what it means to be cared for by adults and by friends is not clear to them.
This year we want to engage students in the understanding of what it means for an adult to care for them. We also want them to explore and connect with what it means for them to care for each other. In every school community there are those who are the “naysayers”, who do not want to be a part of the positivity of the school, and those who actively try to derail the school's culture. While these students’ behaviour might demonstrate a lack of consideration for a safe and caring place to spend their days, we believe this does not always reflect reality. We believe every student needs to be understood, listened to, and feel a sense of belonging, even if they do not show it. We want our students to leave our school as active positive citizens. That being said, we want to focus on those students who, day in and day out, seek to do the right thing (both in their personal lives and at school); struggle through difficult situations (but with the appropriate sensitivity and attitude); and seek to treat others with kindness. We want their voices to be loud, filled with leadership opportunities, and to be celebrated.
With this in mind, you are going to be hearing about many opportunities for students to engage in positive events at school; in turn, our hope is for students to motivate each other with positive attitudes. Parents, we want and need you involved in this mission. Through our newsletters and emails, you are going to be invited to participate in various activities.
It is time for us at Langdon School to make known that our goal is to help our students and your child(ren) “connect the dots” on what it means to be cared for by staff and community, as well as how to show "caring".
I see the kindness of student’s in our building and the excellent example they are to our community. Is our system perfect? No. What we are talking about here is culture. Something that ebbs and flows through the generations. We cannot keep doing the same things that we have always done and expect different results in this area. I need your help parents. I need your support. I know you want your child to have the best possible experience at Langdon school.
If you have any thoughts or ideas on how you may like to be involved, please talk with a teacher or one of the administration team (Mr. Smith, Mrs. Sidorenko, Mrs. Dawes-Harker). See the principals address on the website for the full version of this letter.