by Andru McCracken

Photo: Evan Matthews

Principal Priscilla Davis of the Valemount Elementary School has a plan for the year and with a relatively stable student population, she’ll be able to do it with a full slate of teachers and support staff.

“Last year we started at about the same number, but by the end of the year, we were at 156,” she said. “We always gain a few throughout the year.”

School enrolment has dropped as low as 112 during her tenure as principal over the last 10 years and she is pleased with the current upward trend. Davis said that the school hasn’t had any trouble recruiting teachers.

Davis said the elementary school staff is continuing to focus on increasing the level of literacy of kids in Kindergarten through Grade 4 using a literacy intervention program.

“We’re quite excited about it,” she said. “A lot of teachers have taken the training for it.”

She said students continue to work on problem solving and numeracy and an aboriginal education worker is helping develop a sense of belonging and understanding of aboriginal culture.

The school is also working to increase awareness of skills, trades and careers with an online program called ‘All About Me.’ The Valemount Elementary School piloted the program last year.

“Children learn about themselves and how to set goals and to look at careers, even for Kindergarten children,” she said. “All About Me saves the data and it goes with them throughout their school career. When they go to high school, it’s called My Blueprint.”

Davis said that the emphasis is on getting kids thinking about careers and their future.

“It actually makes them more aware of like, say, if they really enjoy science or math, it gives you all of the careers that really have a big focus on mathematics. It gives you all kinds of careers, not just the normal doctor, lawyer, dentist,” said Davis.

Davis is proud of a new room in the school dedicated to helping kids reset and learn from their mistakes.

She described how it works for a student.

“If I’m having a bad day, I might go down to the room for a 15-minute break. There will be a staff member who will help guide me through a reset process, get me a snack, or just be there while I have a little break from everyone. Then I’ve reset myself for the rest of the day.”