We are a dual track, high needs elementary school. Our students are full of energy, curiosity, and a desire to fit in and make friends. We are grateful for the hardworking staff and wonderfully diverse families who work hard to fill in the gaps through fundraising and other initiatives. We have the benefit of a breakfast and lunch program and after school clubs, many of which are funded by outside agencies. We do our best with what we have, but it would sure make a difference if we had more funding to meet the needs of our students and staff.  

Here is what some of our staff shared about what they love about our school and some of our challenges: 

  1. My story would include students with so many problems who are suffering in a system that does not have enough resources for everyone. I often feel overwhelmed with the knowledge that these kids need so much that I can’t give them, and that’s even before tackling the academic curriculum. On the happier side, the staff is such a strong group of amazing educators who are here to give the best they can, and the students feel that. We have created a nice community that I’m glad to be a part of.  
  1. I love our school because of how the staff come together to support each other through every day joys and struggles. I think there would be less turnover in staff and less burnout if we had more EA hours, more counsellor hours, full time CCW hours, and an SD Program. 
  1. I’ve really enjoyed my first few months at our school; the staff is very welcoming and inclusive. It has been a very supportive place to work. I love the school community that’s been created here. Something that has been challenging for me, as the school’s music teacher, is my classroom space. My classroom is a renovated changing room that was not built to be a classroom. It’s a tiny space and is a very cramped space especially for my larger classes. My students enter from the gym which causes disruptions to the classes in the gym and can dysregulate students when they are entering my classroom. It can be very difficult to calm them down and cuts into the limited time I have with them. I have no built-in classroom storage for instruments, and the space that is available cannot hold all the instruments the school owns. This means, I’ve found many instruments stored in other spaces all over the school. Music is so very important for students’ well-being but it’s very difficult to teach under these conditions.  
  1. To me, teaching is all about collaboration. To achieve a successful year, you need to be able to collaborate. I have been lucky enough to find an amazing teaching partner so that we can work well to create unique, fun, and engaging unit plans. This has saved me because I am not alone. I can bounce ideas off them and push my creativity. This has led to better teaching and more engaged students but this job can be so draining. Teachers are now expected to do exponentially more than their job description. We all care so much about our students and our classrooms that we are too often pulled into many directions because we want to support them all. However, this so quickly leads to burnout. The LST, IST, and counselling team are also pushed to their limits because they’re not funded in a way that allows them to meet the needs of students. As a district registering new students every month who come from areas of civil unrest and widespread violence, our students carry the trauma of their experiences with them when they enter our classrooms.   

We have seen a huge influx of Spanish speaking students at our school. However, as our LST schedules are set at the beginning of the year meaning that they do not have the time in their schedules to see these students as much as they need. There is a limit as to how we can support these new students in our classroom with such limited resources. I am now resorting to using Duolingo and Google Translate to teach this students English because it’s the best resources that I have available. This is not to blame any of our LST as they work so hard to meet all our students’ needs. It doesn’t help that LST is all too often pulled to cover a failure to fill thereby removing important supports for vulnerable students.  

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