New principal offers advice to make move less stressful for students
The opening date of the new Spring Creek Elementary school has been pushed back three and half weeks, to Nov. 5.
"My feeling is that I really want it to be ready and finished and safe for the young children to be in," said the schools recently appointed Principal Linda Watson.
For now all the students will remain at Myrtle Philip, where Spring Creek will run as a school within a school.
There is no doubt the move will be stressful for all involved but Watson said parents and guardians could help kids with the transition by staying positive.
"Point out things that are the same," said Watson.
"They are going to be learning the same skills, they will have the same opportunities in the gym, they are going to have a computer lab, they are going to have a library.
"And visiting the school would be really helpful. If parents can drive them by the new school site and tell them, This is where you will be going.
"Acquaint them with the area and point out similarities as opposed to differences because as adults often times what we do is we jump in and we notice the differences. But if you were to make a list the similarities would be much longer than the differences."
Watson said kids need to know that they will still see the friends they have left behind at Myrtle Philip in the community and at events and on the mountains.
"They are not moving across the world," said Watson.
"They are just moving 10 minutes down the road and I think that is a very important thing to remind them of.
"So reassure them that they will still have their friends in the community."
Moving to and opening Spring Creek is a dream come true, said Watson who left a vice-principalship in Kelownas fire zone to come here.
"I am very excited," she said.
"I feel privileged to be chosen to move to a world class community and build a new school. It really is a dream the opportunity to start at the ground and build up. Each day and each year we will build more partnerships with the community and there will be more benefits for the students."
Watson is also looking forward to enjoying the skiing, hiking and biking the resort has to offer with her husband. And the move to the coast allows her to be closer to her two grandchildren who live in Vancouver.
Watson has one son who is attending first year university in Kelowna and two grown stepchildren who live in Vancouver and Calgary.
Watson is uniquely qualified to open the Spring Creek school, which will also house the Francophone school.
She was moved into Kelownas Casorso Elementary to help re-invent that school after the district decided during restructuring to move a large French Immersion program into the elementary.
"So we were really building a new school in the sense that we were building a school culture and bringing the French students and the English students together," said Watson.
Thats not unlike the situation at Spring Creek, although the Francophone school is autonomous.
Watson has also closed schools down and worked with a variety of student profiles, from the challenged to the gifted.
"I have had a variety of experiences to draw on at the elementary school level as well as working with the two cultures, the French culture and the English culture," said Watson.
"My desire is to do whatever I can to make elementary school the best memory that a child could have."
Watson believes key to achieving this is good communication between all the stakeholders in the school parents, teachers, students, and the community.
"Everybody has to be a part of building a positive culture," she said.
"We start with school goals and we have a school mission statement.
"As we move through our new school year we will make it fit to suit the people in that building and the students that we have."
The first Parent Advisory Committee meeting for Spring Creek and Myrtle Philip will start at 6 p.m. at Myrtle Philip school on Sept. 16.