At the Calgary Catholic School District (CCSD), we encourage parents and guardians to participate in their school community. Two of the most common ways are through school council or volunteer opportunities.
All parents/guardians with children attending school are members of their local school council and are encouraged to participate in council activities. The purpose of school councils is to provide an avenue for parents, school administration, teachers, community members and students to work together to create teaching and learning environments where students reach their full potential and succeed in all areas of learning. Councils usually meet once a month, including some evenings, to allow those parents who work during the day to attend. During meetings, parents can hear about important news, upcoming programs and initiatives and can provide recommendations to the principal regarding important decisions that will affect the school community. Parents and guardians are encouraged to attend at least one school council meeting every school year. Those who wish to have a more active role on school council can join the council executive, or one of the school council committees.
“As the primary educator, the parent voice is extremely important in guiding the direction of the school. Teachers and administrators rely on parent voices because they know their children best,” says Denis Fortier, Principal of St. Sylvester School. “We are all working for the best possible outcome for our students and their families. Through school council, the parent voice provides perspective on everything from extracurricular programming to equipment purchases and fundraising.”
In addition, school council chairs meet with one another, district administrators and members of the Board of Trustees at district-wide meetings. In close collaboration with principals, school councils create a vibrant community spirit. They help bring the heart and uniqueness that makes a school more than just a school.
“Volunteering at my children’s school and being on school council has been very rewarding. I get to know the teachers and staff better,” says Gillian MacNevin, a parent at St. Sylvester. “I feel more connected to the school community. I get to share school-related experiences with my kids and my kids see that I’m invested in their education.”
Our schools rely on parent volunteers to help activities and events run more smoothly and be more successful. All volunteers, new and experienced, must complete a volunteer orientation on an annual basis. During these orientations, volunteers will be informed and reminded of guidelines and expectations when acting in any volunteer capacity at a school.
Opportunities exist in the school for parents or guardians to volunteer in a number of capacities, such as in their child’s classroom or at school-wide events. Examples of volunteering in your child’s class could include volunteering as a chaperone on field trips or helping students with their reading. Examples of volunteer roles at a school-wide level could include helping to supervise students at a school dance or helping to sort fundraising orders.
“By volunteering, your child can see the importance of school and education, and this motivates them and gets them excited to go to school, even if it’s just on those days you volunteer,” says Pam Demarbre, a parent at St. Basil School. “Your child can be proud that you have taken the time to be with them in their class. The big smiles that my children have on the days that I volunteer at their school make it worth it.”
The concept of service is central to the beliefs of a Catholic school district. Service is how we demonstrate our love and concern for others and is an expression of our faith. Parents and community members who gift their time and talents to our school communities provide students with authentic, real-life models of service.
“My participation in my children’s school life has enhanced my relationship with their teachers and school administrators, opening lines of communication and increasing collaboration. I can see their studies up close, interactions with peers and teachers, and the strategies used in the classroom which also really help at home,” says Jill Redfern, a parent at St. Gianna School. “It’s so great spending time with the kids and their classmates, quality time that we wouldn’t otherwise have together. Being able to demonstrate to them the importance I place on community involvement, their education and their lives is another big benefit.”
If you are interested in making a difference in your child’s school, get in touch with your school principal to find out how you can best contribute.
For more information, visit cssd.ab.ca.
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