Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Adventures, Thoughts and Musings

Adventures, Thoughts and Musings

The best way to keep on top of school issues and to have input into your child's school career is to actively participate at the school. After 4 active years on the Bright's Grove Public School Council, three as Chair and Co-Chair, I have joined the School Council at Northern Collegiate Institute and Vocational School in Sarnia. I have been elected as Chair and will have one or two Co-Chairs working with me. School Councils are an advisory board for the Principal and are comprised of parents, the Principal, a teachers' representative and one or two community reps. School Councils are mandated by the provincial government.

We meet monthly to discuss any issues that affect the school, including codes of behaviour and dress, security, changes in education policy, etc. The Chairs/Co-Chairs throughout the Lambton Kent District School Board meet with the Trustees at least twice each year in Petrolia and Wallaceburg. The Lambton Kent Disctrict School Board extends from Sarnia and Grand Bend on Lake Huron, south to Lake Erie, not including Windsor. Other meetings of the Chairs choose Regional representation to deal with Queens Park in Toronto.

By being involved I am in a better position to help David with his special issues in a positive, rather than combative, environment. School has certainly changed over the 40 years since I graduated from Northern and went off to the University of Toronto and then the University of Western Ontario. The kids are the same with the same teen issues, but there are greater demands made on them, particularly under the new curriculum. Further, they have crammed 5 years worth of high school into 4 years now. Grade 13 has now been eliminated. Grade 13 was traditionally the equivalent of first year university in other provinces, but at government expense. Fortunately, there are also more resources to help students with special needs, through Student Services.

David is in Grade 9 this year. First semester courses include Business Technology, Geography, Science and Music. He is struggling with the high demands of high school. Business Technology will cover the full Microsoft Office Suite, including Word, Excel, Access, Publisher and PowerPoint. Excellent grounding for whatever he does in the future. He is also using his AlphaSmart 3000 computer to take notes in class. Geography is a serious challenge, at times overwhelming to him. He needs more time to complete tests, and is entitled to that time through his IEP (Individual Education Plan). I have met with his teachers and will continue regular meetings throughout his high school career. He enjoys Science and is looking forward to doing chemical experiments. David has a background in music (piano, guitar, recorder, flute, Irish whistle) and this year he has chosen to learn the Trumpet. He is doing very well and we enjoyed a bit of a jam session the other night. This year will be a major challenge for all of us. We are balancing FASD, puberty and other changes. Why don't kids come with an Operating Manual?