Marie Sharpe elementary and its adjoining GROW/Skyline centre have been developed with a neighbourhoods of learning concept in mind.
“It is a real community of learners,” says district superintendent Diane Wright.
Opening today for the new school year, Marie Sharpe elementary has a day-care centre, Strong Start centre, full-day kindergarten room, activity centre, reading strategy centre, as well as regular classrooms for grades 1 to 7.
Over the summer Marie Sharpe was substantially reorganized and updated to make room for the GROW/Skyline alternate graduation program to move from rental accommodation into the annex at Marie Sharpe which until now has accommodated the kindergarten and primary students.
Paint has been updated in most classrooms at Marie Sharpe and almost every classroom space has been rearranged or re-designated to accommodate the changes, says district secretary-treasurer Bonnie Roller who provided a tour of the school last week with Wright, while last minute reorganization was being completed.
The early education programs have been clustered together near the side entrance to the school, Roller notes.
Since last fall Marie Sharpe has had a full-day daycare centre located just inside the side entrance door, opposite the office. The daycare centre has its own separate playground.
A few doors down there is the Strong Start program room. Strong Start B.C. is a free drop-in early learning program for preschool-aged children accompanied by a parent or caregiver. A qualified early childhood educator leads activities, including stories, music, and arts, to help children grow linguistically, emotionally and socially, and become comfortable in a school-like setting.
Close by is the new full-day kindergarten classroom.
About half way down the hall there is a refurbished learning support room with sinks and fridges which also serves as a gathering place for family activities.
Some of the classrooms were repainted last year and the remainder have been repainted this summer with bright colours such as celery green, and light blue and other bright colours to inspire children.
The library has a special treat for returning students — a brand new mural started in June and completed over the summer by district painter Renee Winter.
The mural was designed with input from the Grade 6/7 students who outlined their favourite stories and characters.
“The kids were really excited about the mural,” Wright says. “All the rooms look really fresh.”
Lorene Fennell, a primary teacher, who is making the move from the annex to the main school, says she has been dropping by periodically during the summer to organize and decorate her freshly painted new classroom.
She chose a splash of red on one wall to complement the darker green accents on her walls and has put up lots of art work and creative learning aids around the room to inspire her students.
Randy Morgan, the English as a second dialect teacher, was also busy dusting and reorganizing last week and preparing his new teaching space adjacent to the library. He was impressed to see how much space had been created for his program by taking out the wall between two small offices.
A new reading strategy room was created in the upstairs wing of the school where teachers can meet and take training.
Unfortunately Roller says that with all of the changes being made they were not able to find space to keep the Learning Disabilities Association office in the school. The privately run LDA provides one-on- one tutoring for students.
In making room for GROW/Skyline on school district property, the French Immersion program was moved in July from Marie Sharpe to Glendale elementary.
The French Immersion program will continue to operate on the regular September to June calendar, and the English program at Glendale will continue to operate on the year-round calendar, notes Roller.
Roller says the Marie Sharpe parent advisory council has also raised funds to replace a piece of the playground equipment that was destroyed by vandals in May. The new equipment will be installed in September.
She says the Marie Sharpe playground is also well used by the community after school hours and on weekends.
The Boys and Girls Club and City Rec and Roll after school programs also make use of the Marie Sharpe playground and gymnasium. The Boys and Girls Club will also make use of the new activity room at the GROW/Skyline Centre after regular school hours.
“We really have a full neighbourhood learning centre,” Wright says.