Principal´s Message

           Happy Summer to all of our MSB families.

Principal’s Message June 2019

As this year comes to an end, it is important to recognize and celebrate the achievements of all our students and teachers who have come together as learners this year. The school experience is made up of many things. Primarily we focus on building our skills around literacy, numeracy, physical fitness, and the arts, but school is more than that and often the school experiences we remember most are the ones where we get a chance to develop our leadership skills, learn to work co-operatively with others, and engage in unique shared experiences. 

This year, our students were fortunate to have opportunities to be able to interact with each other through electives (i.e., swimming, running, leadership, fitness, cooking, art, and woodworking); they learned how to work as a team through our athletic, robotic, and extracurricular activities (i.e., school play, volleyball, basketball, track and field, cross country, soccer, flag football, the Special Olympics track meet, chess club, intramurals, lego robotics, a huge variety of class trips, and Battle of the Books); they had opportunities to travel to many different places not least of which were the Camp Muskoka, Toronto/Niagara, African Lion Safari, Medieval Feast, the Children’s Museum, Doon Heritage Village, and the Career Centre trips; and they had opportunities to perform and share their talents through the band, choir, and Seussical the Musical.  All of this wouldn’t happen without the dedication of our staff who go above and beyond to create positive experiences here at MSB. We would like to thank all of them for their commitment.


We would also like to thank our volunteers who give their time and energy to make MSB a great place to be. Our volunteers support us with field trip supervision, in-class reading programmes, helping our library to function efficiently, preparing and serving food at our Breakfast Club, organizing and running fundraising efforts such as the Dance-a-thon, and driving our teams to tournaments and other events. These volunteers make a difference every day for our students and it would not be the same place without them. Thank you!

School Council

A special thank you must always go to our School Council who works hard from year to year to support special events such as our MSB Health and Wellness NIght for parents and students as well as parent engagement opportunities such as the FDK Orientation, the Grade 6 Orientation, the Grade 1 Literacy Night, and the Acton Kindergarten Fun Fair. Our School Council, is more than just a place to raise money, it is a committed group of parents, teachers, and community members who regularly meet despite their own busy schedules to plan, problem solve, and brainstorm ways to make every child’s experience here at MSB a positive one.  It’s easy to come into the School Council group thinking only of your own child, what’s amazing is that this group quickly gels into a team that thinks about all the children in the school no matter the grade, capability, or need. However, it would be remiss of me to not mentioned the money that they do raise and how it makes a difference for the students here at MSB. This year, the funds raised by the School Council went to the following purchases: Materials for our D&T room (aka “shop”), outdoor equipment for our kindergarten classes, outdoor equipment for the entire school yard, The Acton Community Hub for the kindergarten  Fun Fair, Indoor Recess bins, materials for the Green Team beautification project, Robotic kits, iPads, Spheros, Edison bots, Grade 8 Grad celebrations, Grade 8 School Council awards, Outdoor Education Backpack kits for all grades, as well as ever growing access to chromebooks. All of these things make MSB a better place to learn and play. If School Council is something you may be interested in, we meet the first Monday of most months and our new council begins work in October after elections have taken place.

Halton Learning Foundation:

The Halton Learning Foundation is an organization that provides grants to schools for student engagement and to eliminate barriers for students so that they can access extracurricular activities and basic needs at school.  This year the Halton Learning Foundation (HLF) supported our school in the following areas: Physical Education $1500 (recess revival equipment); Mental Health $950 (Indoor Recess Bins); School Environment $4000 (school yard improvements such as added trees, benches, reviving our beach volleyball court, and adding a new sandbox - all on their way to our school yard); Media Literacy $800 (Green screens and mics); Arts and Music $1400 (instruments, music books, music copyright); Numeracy $1750 (spheros and ipads); and over $2500 was directed through the school to families and students to support individual unique needs.  We are very lucky to have an organization that supports us so that we can provide enhanced learning opportunities for our students and help them come to school with the necessities they need. If you are interested in learning more about the HLF check them out at this website:


As the 2018-2019 school year was coming to an end, it became a difficult Spring for our staff.  We went through a very different staffing process this spring, which meant we were faced with staff being declared surplus to our school and, even more unusually, staff being declared redundant to our board.  It was very difficult for our staff who weren’t even sure that they’d be back here next year to keep their head in the game and keep focussed on what was important: the students in front of them every day. However they did it!  I don’t believe that there was one parent or child who felt that there was any difference in how the school was running despite the difficult news our staff was dealing with. In the end, it all worked out and we are pleased to announce that all of our staff who were declared surplus or redundant were recalled to our school.  However, that doesn’t mean that all of them are staying.  

As with every year, teachers change jobs for a variety of reasons.  Some are looking for personal growth or leadership opportunities; others are looking for work with a new grade or curriculum; and still others want to get closer to home to help provide some balance between home life and work.  

So at this point, it is the time of year to say goodbye to some of our wonderful staff who are leaving us to pursue other opportunities.  We want to extend a heartfelt thank you and best wishes to Ms. Okom, Mr. Primerano, Mr. DeGier, and Ms. Green our LRT who are moving on to other positions at other schools in Halton. Also, a thank you and good luck to our Long-Term Occasional teachers Ms. Abela, Ms. Veltman, Mr. Reaume, Ms. Fisher, Mr. Emma, Ms. Edwards, Ms. McGeachy, and Ms. Anderson.  We wish them well and know that wherever they land, that school will be very lucky (and just maybe we’ll be lucky enough to get them back here at MSB). In addition, we’d like to say goodbye to our Long Term Occasional EAs Ms. Penrose, Ms. Merritt, Ms. Job, Ms. Russo and Ms. DaCosta. We hope that we see all of them back in some capacity here at MSB as their compassion, empathy, and knowledge will be missed. Finally, we would like to say goodbye to our Vice Principal, Mrs. Cation, who will be leaving us to start a new adventure as Vice Principal at Tiger Jeet Singh PS in Milton.  Her leadership, knowledge, laughter, and willingness to jump in to help any time, will be greatly missed.

At this time, we’d also want to wish our Grade 8 Graduates much success with the beginning of their journey in high school. They will be missed, but we know that they will make the MSB and Acton communities proud in their future endeavors. Go Bearcats!!

Finally, we’d like to wish all of you a healthy, restful, and family-filled summer. Thank you for your continued support and we look forward to seeing our returning school community members in the fall!

In the rest of this message, you will find some important and helpful information about supporting your child over the summer, important dates, MSB renovations, and Class Building processes (some new items there!), 

Supporting Your Child!

Many parents throughout the school year wonder how they can support their child with academics at home. They ask teachers for extra homework or they get tutors for their children. Now that the summer has started and reports have been home for a few days, I challenge you to go back to your child’s report and read only the “Next Steps” in either the Learning Skills section or the Literacy/Math sections. 

If you pick one of those to work on over the summer you will have given your child the best gift ever . You would have supported their learning AND you would have helped avoid that “backwards, Summer slide” that can easily happen over the long break. 

The Next Steps are usually very specific (ie., work with your child on counting money and making change for a dollar, or work on sound/symbol blending when reading, or practice multiplication facts, or play “shake and spill” with two dice). If you choose just one and make that your focus for every single day of the summer , you will have your child ready to start fresh and ready in the fall. So, how can you help? Right now, go back to those reports and pick one Next Step! 

Need some incentive?  Take a look at these statistics:  A student who reads 1 minute a day will be exposed to 8000 words per year; a student who reads 5 minutes per day will be exposed to 282,000 words per year; a student who reads 20 minutes per day will be exposed to 1.8 million words per year.  Remember this works whether your child is reading on their own or whether they are being read to. If the ONLY thing you do is read to your child for 20 minutes each day - you have helped them to be well on their way to becoming successful readers, thinkers, and learners.  Let’s get reading!

Summer Renovations

As I write this, our school is officially a construction zone again! Fortunately, it’s not as extensive as last year which means the construction should be finished and we’ll be in good shape to start in September. This year we are finishing our bathroom renovations.  The bathrooms that are under the bleachers of the south gym will be completely renovated and overhauled making them now up to the standard of all the other washrooms in the school. We will all be pleased to have this space made more environmentally sound, more inviting, and definitely easier to clean.  

We are also having the brick work around our building reviewed, restored, and replaced where necessary.  This will ensure that we reduce the spots where water damage occurs inside the school and helps maintain our building as a clean and welcoming place.  

Class Building

During the months of May, June, July, and August, we work hard to build classes for the 2019-2020 school year. Teachers use their professional expertise and their extensive knowledge of their students to build classes that will allow for the best academic growth experiences for all of our students. Class lists, once finalized, will be shared electronically through School Messenger on Friday, August 31 at 2pm. This is very different from previous years.  In the past, our tradition has been to post class lists on the front doors.  We used to post student names and their teachers, then in an effort to protect privacy, we moved to student OEN’s and their teachers.  However, posting any kind of identifying information on the front of our buildings does not respect the privacy of students therefore the board has asked that we share the information electronically.  You will still get the information at the same time, but now you can access it on your way to the cottage, or while you are in the line at Tim’s, or at home sitting with your kids.  It will NOT be posted on the school doors. More importantly, please make sure that we have your correct email address on file at the school.  If you have been receiving Sunday Summaries throughout the year, then you’re all set. 


If you have moved or are planning a move, please make sure to advise the school office of your new contact information especially if you are moving outside of the MSB catchment area.

Important Dates for School Year at MSB 2019-2020:

September 3, 2019 - First Day of School

September 3,4,5,6, 2019 - Junglesport Running this week for all classes

September 16, 2019 - Elementary PA Day

September 20, 2019 - Acton Fall Fair Education Day

September 25, 2019 - Meet the Teacher Night (Tentative)

October 3, 2019 - HPV-HB Vaccinations (Grade 7)

October 11, 2019 - Elementary PA Day

October 14, 2019 - Thanksgiving Day

October 17, 2019 - Calling All Three Year Olds (Kindergarten Readiness at MSB)

October 19, 2019 - Parent Involvement Committee (PIC) Conference

October 28 and 29th, 2019 - School Photo Days

November 21, 2019 - Photo Retake Day

November 21, 2019 - Interview Evening (Tentative)

November 22, 2018 - Elementary PA Day (Interview Day)

December 20, 2018 - Last Day of School - Early Dismissal

December 21, 2018 - January 5, 2020 (inclusive) Winter Break

January 6, 2020 - First Day of School

January 29, 2020 - Menactra Vaccination (Grade 7)

January 31, 2020 - Elementary PA Day

February 14, 2020 - Elementary PA Day

February 17, 2020 - Family Day

March 14-22, 2020 (inclusive) - March Break

April 7, 2020 - HPV-HB Vaccination (Grade 7)

April 10, 2020 - Good Friday

April 13, 2020 - Easter Monday

April 27, 2020 - Elementary PA Day

May 13, 2020 - MSB Kindergarten Orientation for Parents & JK Children (Tentative)

May 18, 2020 - Victoria Day

May 19-June 1, 2020 - EQAO (Tentative)

June 5, 2020 - Elementary PA Day

June 24, 2020 - Grade 8 Grad (Tentative)

June 26, 2020 - Last Day of School - Early Dismissal

Have a great summer.  Whether you are heading away, enjoying a “staycation”, or just get a few days off, we hope that your summer is full of laughter, good friends, and good health.  See you in September!

March, 2019 - One Important Announcement

If you were to come to this website, you would think that we are not an active school, what with the last principal message dating from September of 2018. However, as general member of the public, what you wouldn't know is that since October of 2018, we have been communicating more effectively with our parent community through our weekly Sunday Summary which fills in parents on everything that is happening in the school, provides links to important resources, and gives insights into how our students are feeling about school through links to information from our "Have Your Say" survey. What you also won't see here in the principal's message is the over 25oo tweets that are made up of pictures, links, and shout-outs about the amazing work that happens inside our building.

The reality is, websites are fairly static entities and the energy that goes into keeping our website up to date on a weekly basis, is already channeled into our Sunday Summary. Therefore, over the March Break and the summer (of 2019), we are going to re-vamp this website so that it provides a service for the casual viewer. We know that websites are where people go to see who to contact, the hours of operation, basic background information, and other static pieces of information that change rarely or maybe only from year to year. The new, re-vamped website is going to have our staff information, our school address and office hours, our behaviour expectations, our policies around cell phone use, inclement weather, progressive discipline. Basically, it will be a place to check in on information that rarely changes. Day to day, week to week, important or urgent information will continue to be posted to the Sunday Summary and to our Twitter account (@MCKSmithBennett) so if you are looking for up to the moment information, those will be the places to find it. If you are just looking for basic information about our school, the website will continue to serve you well.

Thanks for your understanding and please do not hesitate to contact us at the school should you have any questions. We always love to hear from our community.

September, 2018 - Two Important Announcements.

We are very excited to welcome our parent community into the school on Wednesday, October 3rd. Our Open House will kick off with pizza available in the school (order sheets have been sent home) from 5:30-6pm, it will continue with a message from the Principal in the South Gym (starting at 6pm), and then end with access into the classrooms and opportunities to chat with your child's teacher (starting as soon as I stop talking in the gym!). We look forward to seeing you next week.

We are aware that someone has created a social media account with the MSB name and logo on it. We have notified the social media platform and asked for its removal and we have been in contact with police who are investigating. Please remember that our only official lines of communication on the internet are through our website or through our Twitter account @MCKSmithBennett. All other accounts do not belong to us nor do they represent MSB and should be blocked. Thank you for helping us maintain the integrity and inclusiveness of our messaging and our community.

August, 2018 - Welcome Back.

Life happens. Whether your summer has been one filled with family, friends, rest, and relaxation, or whether your summer was busy, hectic, and/or had unexpected events in it, we are so happy that you are back with us this fall. Our school has been undergoing renovations and is looking amazing! New lighting, fresh paint, road work completed outside (we hear it will be done by the first day!), means that we are all getting off on the right foot. Many of our teachers have been in these past few days getting their rooms ready as well as thinking, planning, and working together to start the year off right. We have been in the process of hiring for the past few days and we are very excited with the new additions to our staff. As we look forward to this long weekend, we hope that everyone enjoys some down time and that we have wonderful fall weather for our first day.

Speaking of our first day, we will be meeting all of our students out on the blacktop as we do every year. Teachers will have their class lists and we will have all of our support staff out on the blacktop with extra master lists so that they can direct anyone who is lost to their correct homeroom teacher. If you want the information a little earlier than that, our class lists will be posted on the front doors at 2pm on Friday, August 31st - please make sure you know your child's OEN (can be found on their report card) as the only identifying feature will be the OEN. The class lists (by OEN) will also be posted on line here on the front page of our website. In addition, our newest MSB Mustangs (aka our JK students) do not have an OEN yet so our kindergarten families will receive an email directly from the school at 2pm indicating who their teacher will be. But don't worry. If you don't access the information on Friday...we WILL get you connected on Tuesday.

One important note to remember: Our school times have changed. Our start time is now 9:25am. Supervision starts on our school yard at 9:10am.

As you start gearing up for the new school year, please put the new SchoolMessenger APP on your phone (you should have received a message from the board about this already). WHY do it? We take our attendance process very seriously. We want to know right away when a student is expected to be absent. We want to minimize the downtime between attendance taken and any student not accounted for. Sometimes, we find we can't reach a parent by phone or email. This means we go to the emergency contacts which we sometimes can't reach either....and time is ticking away. We want to be able to contact you immediately if there is a discrepancy between our attendance and any absence messages from you. The new APP means that we can directly connect with you through APP notification, text message, e-mail and phone calls. . The SchoolMessenger mobile APP is easy to download (go to, or to the HDSB Mobile App which can be found on the App Store or Google Play) and then you'll be ready to go for the new year. You can report your child's absence from the Tim's lineup, at midnight when you remember that doctor's appointment the next day, or in the morning as you are racing out the door. Sign up now!

One last reminder: Follow us on Twitter - we tweet out every day the wonderful things that are happening in our school, important updates, and links to HDSB news. Join the 400 families that follow us so far...check us out at @MCKSmithBennett - you don't need an account to follow.

July, 2018 - Year End Message and Some Start Up Information (already!)

As this year comes to an end, it is important to recognize and celebrate the achievements of all our students and teachers who have come together as learners this year.  The school experience is made up of many things. Primarily we focus on building our skills around literacy, numeracy, physical fitness, and the arts, but school is more than that and often the school experiences we remember most are the ones where we get a chance to develop our leadership skills, learn to work co-operatively with others, and engage in unique shared experiences.  This year, our students were fortunate to have opportunities to visit Camp Muskoka, Rockwood Conservation Area, and Toronto; they were able to interact with each other through electives (i.e., swimming, running, leadership, fitness, cooking, and woodworking); they learned how to work as a team through our athletic, robotic, and extracurricular activities (i.e., school play, volleyball, basketball, track and field, cross country, soccer, flag football, the Special Olympics track meet, chess club, intramurals, lego robotics, a huge variety of class trips, and Battle of the Books)  All of this wouldn’t happen without the dedication of our staff who go above and beyond to create positive experiences here at MSB. We would like to thank all of them for their commitment.

We would also like to thank our volunteers who give their time and energy to make MSB a great place to be.  Our volunteers support us with field trip supervision, in-class reading programmes, helping our library to function efficiently, preparing and serving food at our Breakfast Club, organizing and running fundraising efforts such as the Dance-a-thon, and driving our teams to tournaments and other events.  These volunteers make a difference every day for our students and it would not be the same place without them. Thank you!

A special thank you must always go to our School Council who raises money from year to year to support special events such as Social Media literacy for parents and students and parent engagement opportunities such as the FDK Orientation, the Grade 6 Orientation, and the Acton Kindergarten Fun Fair.  Our School Council is a committed group of parents, teachers, and community members who regularly meet despite their own busy schedules to plan, problem solve, and brainstorm ways to make every child’s experience here at MSB a positive one. This year, the funds raised by the School Council went to the following purchases: Materials for our D&T room (aka “shop”), outdoor equipment for our kindergarten classes, the South Gym sound and projector system, the Santa Claus Parade float, The Acton Community Hub for the kindergarten Fun Fair, Indoor Recess bins, materials for the Green Team beautification project, Robotic kits, FDK kitchen sets, iPads, Grade 8 Grad celebrations, Grade 8 School Council awards, and chromebooks.  All of these things make MSB a better place to learn and play.

It is also the time of year to say goodbye to some of our wonderful staff members who are leaving us to pursue other opportunities.  We want to extend a heartfelt thank you and best wishes to Mme Bahloul, Mlle Jones, and Ms. Hughes who are moving on to other positions at other schools in Halton.  Also, a thank you and good luck to our Long-Term Occasional teachers Ms. Abela, Ms. Patafio, Mr. Philipp, Ms. Puri, Ms. Downey, Ms. Barbuto and Ms. Sinclair and to our Long Term Occasional EAs Ms. Worby, and Ms. Service Hymers. We hope to see them back in more permanent roles in the future. In addition Mr. Morton is leaving to start a new adventure as the VP at Brookville P.S. and we wish him every success in his new position.  

We also want to wish our Grade 8 Graduates much success with the beginning of their journey in high school.  You will be missed, but we know that you will make the MSB and Acton communities proud in your future endeavors.

Supporting Your Child!

Many parents throughout the school year wonder how they can support their child with academics at home.  They ask teachers for extra homework or they get tutors for their children. Now that the summer has started and reports have been home for a few days, I challenge you to go back to your child’s report and read only the “Next Steps” in either the Learning Skills section or the Literacy/Math sections.  If you pick one of those to work on over the summer you will have given your child the best gift ever.  You would have supported their learning AND you would have helped avoid that “backwards, Summer slide” that can easily happen over the long break.  The Next Steps are usually very specific (ie., work with your child on counting money and making change for a dollar, or work on sound/symbol blending when reading, or practice multiplication facts, or play “shake and spill” with two dice).  If you choose just one and make that your focus for every single day of the summer, you will have your child ready to start fresh and ready in the fall.  So, how can you help? Right now, go back to those reports and pick one Next Step!  Thanks!

Summer Renovations

As I write this, our school is officially a construction zone again! (See pics below)  Fortunately, it’s not as extensive as last year which means the construction should be finished and we’ll be in good shape to start in September.  First as many of you know, we had the lighting completely replaced in the Bennett building last year and this has made a tremendous difference in the general brightness and airiness of that building.  This year we are having the same work done in our McKenzie Smith Building (the south building) and we look forward to a brighter more pleasing Intermediate building. Last year, we had air conditioning installed in our upper floors.  In order for it to work efficiently Halton Hills Hydro will be upgrading the service to our building by working both at the front of the building and at the back. Again, this will all happen as part of a larger project that Halton Hills Hydro is completing with the work they are doing on Acton Blvd.

Class Building

During the months of May, June, July, and August, we work hard to build classes for the 2018-2019 school year.  Teachers use their professional expertise and their extensive knowledge of their students to build classes that will allow for the best academic growth experiences for all of our students.  Class lists, once finalized, will be posted on the front door of the school on Friday, August 31 at 2pm.

We will not make changes to class lists in September.  Initially it’s because we never know if we will be doing a re-organization in September that could change everything anyway, but also for an even more important reason.  Stop for a moment and imagine your parents calling the school to say that you were not with your best friend in class….you can’t imagine it right? That’s because, learning is our first priority in class, socializing is something students can do during breaks.  Secondly, we know that if we try to take away every perceived hardship from our kids (such as not being with a best friend, or being with a student they don’t like, or not being with their favourite teacher) it doesn’t make them stronger, it actually makes it difficult for them to be problem-solvers.  There will come a time when no one will take away the hardships and if they haven’t figured out how to manage it with small things (like they are not with their best friend or their favourite teacher), then they will really be stuck when it’s something big, important, and possibly life-changing. Give your child the best lesson ever when they are facing a small problem and say:  “This is not the worst thing you will face, and let’s figure out how you can make it work”.


If you have moved or are planning a move, please make sure to advise the school office of your new contact information especially if you are moving outside of the MSB catchment area.

Important Dates for School Year at MSB 2018-2019:

September 4, 2018 First Day of School

September 17, 2018 Elementary PA Day

October 5, 2018         Elementary PA Day

October 8, 2018         Thanksgiving Day

November 23, 2018 Elementary PA Day (Interview Day)

December 21, 2018 Last Day of School - Early Dismissal

Dec 22, 2018-Jan 6, 2019 (inclusive) Winter Break

January 7, 2019         First Day of School

February 1, 2019         Elementary PA Day

February 15, 2019 Elementary PA Day

February 18, 2019 Family Day

March 9-17, 2019 (inclusive) March Break

April 12, 2019 Elementary PA Day

April 19, 2019 Good Friday

April 22, 2019 Easter Monday

May 20, 2019 Victoria Day

June 7, 2019         Elementary PA Day

June 28, 2019 Last Day of School - Early Dismissal

Immunization Dates:

October 4, 2018         Grade 7 Hep B and HPV

January 10, 2019         Grade 7 Menactra

April 11, 2018 Grade 7 HBV and HPV

School Photo Dates:

October 25 & 26, 2018 Photo Days

November 22, 2018 Retake Day

Finally, some !! Important Changes to Student Health and Medical Information !!

Earlier this year, the Ministry of Education released Policy Program Memorandum 161: Supporting Students with Prevalent Medical Conditions. School Boards across Ontario are expected to implement PPM 161 by September 2018. As a result, the HDSB has updated several Administrative Procedures to better support students who have Anaphylaxis, Asthma, Diabetes, Epilepsy and Seizure Disorders.  With the revised HDSB procedures, students who have any of the listed prevalent medical conditions, must have a Plan of Care in place.   Furthermore, the Plan of Care must be co-created by the student, parent and school staff and in cases where medication needs to be administered (epipens, puffers, etc.,) there are documents that must be signed by a regulated health care professional.  If this applies to your child, please see the second letter attached to this synervoice message so that you can arrange for doctor’s appointments over the summer ensuring that we are prepared for your child’s medical needs at school in September.

February 12, 2018 - Think our teachers are great? Let them know!

Whenever I am at community events, professional development activities, or at principal or board meetings, I am constantly talking about the excellent staff we have here at MSB.  Over my 28 year career here in Halton and with 6 different schools that I’ve had the pleasure to work in, I can honestly say that we have the most incredible staff here at MSB.  Our teachers constantly and consistently go above and beyond for our students.  They work hard to engage in collaborative problem solving; they collaborate to provide exciting, interesting, and innovative learning opportunities; they are always willing to take on an extra piece of work if it means that it will provide something more for students.  

I’ve also mentioned before, that it’s important to recognize and value the work that people do.  It’s human nature to spend far too much of our time focussing on the problems that need to be solved and standing in the complaints line than it is to take the time to offer congratulations and compliments.  So, here is your opportunity to take a step in the positive direction.  

If there is a teacher in our school that you think exemplifies what it means to be a dedicated professional who puts kids first every day, please consider putting a nomination forward for the OTIP Teaching awards.  There are nominations in three categories, Secondary, Elementary, and Beginning Teacher (first 5 years).  Winners receive a personal award of $1000 and a certificate of recognition and another $1000 goes to their school….but in all honesty, just the fact that someone has appreciated them enough to nominate them, is a huge deal.  Please consider doing this for a teacher that you appreciate.    Visit   Nominations close March 31.  

And if you don't have time for that, then maybe take the time right now to e-mail your child's teacher and let him/her know just how much you appreciate the work they do for your child.  That little bit of recognition goes a VERY long way.  

February 7, 2018 - Congratulations to our "Inspire Award" Winners at MSB

The Halton District School Board has created an "Inspire Award" to be awarded to teachers, parents, volunteers, or community members who inspire us through their leadership, passion, caring, and innovation.  At MSB, we were excited to extend our congratulations to two members of our school community.  The first award was given to Lorna Brooks who has been volunteering in our school for 16 years.  She first started volunteering when her boys attended here and she continues to this day, reading with students, volunteering at our breakfast club, and acting as a standing member of our school council.  Lorna was given her Inspire Award by Jeanne Gray our Trustee and it was nice to see her boys (grown men now!) with her to accept the award.  Our second award was given to Kyle Kennery.  Kyle has been involved in the Acton community for many years either at Robert Little (where he worked with the Woodview Day Treatment Programme) or at MSB where he was a Child and Youth Counsellor (CYC) and was a valued member of our school team.  Kyle has since moved on to work at Ethel Gardiner PS but came back to join us here at MSB to receive his award.  Both recipients were absolutely deserving of this award and they inspire us to carry on their passion and their caring when it comes to doing what is best for kids.


January 22, 2018 - Great ways to start conversations with our kids

In a conversation over the weekend, I heard this great advice...."Remember, we have two ears and one mouth for a reason - want to know what's up with someone? - Listen more than you talk".  Good advice for me so I thought I'd pass it along!  I always found that conversations at the end of the day in my household with my kids went a whole lot like this:  "How was your day?" "Fine".  I was at my wits end to figure out how to gain more insight into my kids' days at school so I came up with a few great questions to get them thinking.  The first one alone listed below, almost always got the conversation going but if you get stuck, try some of these others that were shared with me through Twitter.

  1. What made you smile today 
  2. Can you tell me an example of kindness you saw/showed? 
  3. Was there an example of unkindness? How did you respond?
  4. Does everyone have a friend at recess?
  5. What was the book about that your teacher read?
  6. What’s the word of the week?
  7. Did anyone do anything silly to make you laugh?
  8. Did anyone cry? How did you help?
  9. What did you do that was creative?
  10. What is the most popular game at recess?
  11. What was the best thing that happened today?
  12. Did you help anyone today?
  13. Did you tell anyone “thank you?”
  14. Who did you sit with at lunch?
  15. What made you laugh?
  16. Did you learn something you didn’t understand?
  17. Who inspired you today?
  18. What was your least favorite part of the day?
  19. What is something you heard that surprised you?
  20. What is something you saw that made you think?
  21. Tell me something you know today that you didn’t know yesterday.
  22. What is something that challenged you?
  23. How did someone fill your bucket today? Whose bucket did you fill?
  24. Rate your day on a scale from 1-10.
  25. What questions did you ask at school today?
  26. What are you looking forward to tomorrow?
  27. What are you reading?
  28. Teach me something I don’t know.
  29. If you could change one thing about your day, what would it be?
  30. (For older kids):  Do you feel prepared for your history test?” or, “Is there anything on your mind that you’d like to talk about?”
  31. What made your teacher smile?
  32. What kind of person were you today?
  33. What made you feel happy? 
  34. What made you feel proud?
  35. What made you feel loved?
  36. Did you learn any new words today?
  37. What do you hope to do before school is out for the year?
  38. If you could switch seats with anyone in class, who would it be? And why?

January 16, 2018 - So much to be grateful for and using our common sense:

Dear Parents and Guardians,

When we come back from the holiday break, it's always a good time to stop, take stock, reflect, and think about where we are going to next.  We held our beginning of the year assembly yesterday and we focussed on two things:  approaching our day to day interactions at MSB with common sense and being grateful for what we have in the world.

To begin with we talked about things that we know just make common sense such as:  1.  Don't stand at the bottom of the snow will get hurt if you do.  2.  Don't scooter in the hallway at school - people might get knocked over.   3.  Classrooms are for learning so technology should be used for learning - not for playing games or working on your social media account.  Whenever I brought up an example in the assembly - kids were easily able to tell me the reasons why we follow those rules (even our youngest kindies were able to explain why).  For example - I hate the idea of ever closing off the snow hill.  First, because I love the snow myself and second because kids need to learn how to manage having fun, taking turns, and being safe.  When we say to kids - "How can we make sure the snow hill stays open?" - they will be the first to say "Don't push people from the top; slide on your bottom; and don't stand at the bottom".  Easy peasy.  You would think. But we work with kids and kids don't always remember the easy-peasy rules.  So we have put together a chart outlining the basics of how to get along in the world (the world of MSB but also the bigger world in general) that students, teachers, lunch room supervisors, ECEs, EAs, and volunteers can refer to so we are all on the same page.  Where did the chart come from?  We talked to students, teachers, parents, and other staff members to help us boil down the easiest way to manage in as many situations as we could think of.  Our Common Expectations chart covers how to be respectful, responsible, and safe in the following areas:  hallways, indoor recess, snowy days, gym, assemblies, washrooms, the kindergarten yard, and many more.  We are very proud of the positive language it uses, the focus on leadership, and that it helps us to enjoy our experiences at school so that we can focus on learning.  

The next thing we talked about was gratitude. For the month of December, our students and staff focused on bringing a little kindness into each others' days. We wanted to do one week of Random Acts of Kindness, but the ideas just took flight and extended through the whole month. When I returned to school, I asked students to share (on video) how it made them feel when someone did something kind for them. It was a way of showing the rest of the school that we can gain positivity out of expressing our gratefulness as much as we can from sharing kindnesses. We had a talk about how easy it is to spend our days complaining about things rather than expressing gratitude and that gratitude helps in two ways, it makes us feel better when we express it and it makes others feel better when we hear it. I gave them the example that sometimes things happen that make us upset or unhappy and we can spend our time grumbling about how unfair it is or how angry we are but our time is better spent understanding that life isn't fair and expressing gratitude for the things we have will bring greater joy into our lives. All it requires is that we change our "automatic" thinking and luckily, a perfect example presented itself immediately.

Over the holidays, I had prepared a presentation for the assembly. I checked it the night before on my computer. Then I checked it in the morning. All working perfectly. I set up my computer and called down the students. Once all 670 kids were in the gym, the sound stopped working as did the automatic clicker for the presentation. I was able to run the assembly anyway with the help of one student standing at my computer, two teachers sharing documents and changing out computers and getting the sound...and all the while 670 students were listening to me talk off the top of my head while the tech problems were being worked out. 

I explained to them that this was a perfect example. I COULD have complained about the problems. I COULD have talked about how frustrated I was. I COULD have grumbled about how much I hate my computer (although I really don't!). Instead I told them how grateful I was in the moment that I had teachers helping me out; a student willing to jump in and run my presentation; and 670 students prepared to wait patiently and to settle down quietly as soon as I raised my hand. I was even grateful that the problems had arisen because it gave me a perfect example in the moment to use with students.

I then issued our students and staff a challenge. I showed them a picture of a huge line up at a complaints department and another picture of a single person standing at the "congratulations and compliments" desk. I told them that I wanted them to work at making the line up to share compliments and congratulations longer than the one at the complaints desk. Then we are going to tweet out everything we are grateful for under #Gratitude in our Twitter account. So the challenge is on! Let's see how many #Gratitudes we can generate this month. 

December 18, 2017 - Reflection Time

Dear Parents and Guardians, 

We have had a very busy fall term and I thought this last week of school was a good time to reflect on what an amazing community we have here at MSB.  

We started the year playing a bit of catch up as we entered a building that was still under renovation.  Despite the setbacks of not having everything in place, our teachers and students soldiered on and created classroom spaces together using collaborative skills that are an essential part of being an effective and productive member of 21st century society.  Because of the work that we do with the HUB around the Early Years Project, we were fortunate to have the Premier of the Province of Ontario visit our school to see the outreach that we do to connect with the youngest members of our community.  This highlighted the amazing work that is happening in our Kindergarten classes as students enter our school for the first time.  And then there is our focus on Kindness and Outreach.  Early on in the year, Mrs. Cation held a Celebration Assembly that focussed on Kindness.  During that assembly she challenged students to think of ways that they can be kind to one another and to engage in outreach in our community and, as per usual, our MSB community stepped up.  

Our year had already started off with students and families raising over $5000 for the Terry Fox Foundation, but then our students went above and beyond that.  In the past four months our students, staff, and families gathered over 600lbs of food for the Acton Food Share Food Bank; raised money for Men's Health through Movember initiatives; raised money for the United Way; raised money for the Acton Legion; collected hats, mitts, socks and toiletries for needy families in our community; and applied to the Halton Learning Foundation to access over $2000 in grocery cards for families in need in our school.  But the generosity of our school community doesn't end there!  Some of our students started their own initiatives this fall.  We had a group of students create announcements and fliers asking staff and students to bring in old towels and blankets to be donated to the Erin Humane Society and we had an entire class bake cookies and sell hot chocolate in order to raise money for animals in shelters.  In addition, we have a dedicated group of students who want to make a difference when it comes to being welcome and safe in our school especially in our bathrooms so they have been working diligently on transforming those spaces to make them positive, welcoming, and respected places.  While we haven't rolled up our sleeves yet to do the work (we are still in the planning stages) we have so many parents willing to help out through donations and time that the kindness and caring is overwhelming.  But kindness and outreach is not just confined to our students.  Many of our families step up to help out our MSB community.  A big thank you must go to the Mehmedoglu family for organizing, fundraising, and providing the labour to install the turf grass in our Kindergarten pen making a HUGE difference in how the kids access the outdoors and play in that area.  Sometimes, things happen without us even day our students arrived at school to see that someone had filled our cement planters with gorgeous fall flowers!  How did that happen?  Our new secretary noticed it needed doing and brought in the flowers....then our Life Skills class noticed the flowers sitting there and decided to plant them.  Two kind acts together that made a welcome addition to the front of our school.  Finally, we at MSB, have been making a concerted effort to ensure that our social media profile is one that highlights the positives and is used to support the good things happening in our community.   As much as possible, we make sure we tweet out or send synervoices out about events, fundraisers, and community celebrations so that even if we can't be directly involved, we can raise awareness of the amazing things that happen here in Acton - a small community with a HUGE heart.

What have our students learned from all of this?  Hopefully they have learned that kindness doesn't mean just raising money or donating your time (although that's an awesome thing to do), it simply means being kind in our actions and words, every day and in every way either face to face or on social media.  During the month of December, our students were challenged to engage in 2000 RAKs (Random Acts of Kindness) through our announcements, class to class challenges, and teacher challenges.  What they learned is that kindness starts with our words.  When we choose to highlight the positive rather than the negative, or when we go out of our way to understand or empathize with someone, or when we are grateful for even the smallest thing that someone does for us, we help build up others as well as ourselves.  Our students learned that being kind extends to others outside of our school whether it be how we talk to our family, friends, coaches, crossing guards, bus drivers or even how we speak when we are on-line.  They learned that the messages you give to others last as long as the things that we do because they are carried in our hearts.   The generosity of our MSB students and parents makes me proud every day to be a part of this community.  

Together we are raising kids who are learning to make a difference in our world. 

Wishing you all the best during the upcoming holidays.  Whether you celebrate the Christmas, Hanukkah, the Winter Solstice,  Kwanzaa or any other important event - we here at the MSB community hope that your days are filled with kindness, love, respect, and appreciation for others.

P.S. - one thing I promise as we enter the new year is to update our website page more frequently....a message in October and then one in December?  Gulp!  I promise to be better at this - however, please know that we tweet out EVERY DAY so follow us on Twitter @MCKSmithBennett (and you don't need an account to follow - just bookmark us on your computer and see what's happening)   

October 2, 2017 - Upcoming Events

Dear Parents and Guardians,

It is truly hard to believe that September is over and that we have been at school for a month now.  We've had our opening day, several "let's remember our behaviour" assemblies [which you can view if you'd like...the link is on the front page of our website at the bottom], a fire drill, many opportunities to meet and work with our Learning Buddies, our Meet the Teacher (one for the whole school and one for our Access class), The Fall Fair visits, our first PD day, and, of course, our month end heat wave.  Whew!!  What a busy month.  

We certainly keep up the pace in October with our Terry Fox Assembly and Run (postponed from last Friday), a Celebration/Character assembly designed to provide our students with opportunities to display and build their character as well as work collaboratively with their Learning Buddies even more; another PD Day in which our teachers are learning how to use technology more proficiently in their classroom and to provide opportunities for their students to use social media effectively beyond the PhD that some of them seem to have in "Snapchat"; opportunities to engage in Cross Country activities; Bus Safety assemblies, Thanksgiving holidays, Photo Days (October 25th and 26th), our School Council Meeting (October 2nd at 6:30pm), and the start of our food days at school.  Top all that off with Hallowe'en at the end of the month and I have a feeling that October is going to fly by as quickly as September. 

For those of you that have filled in your volunteer sheets, you can expect to hear from teachers and the office very soon.  While we may not need your services and help immediately, we want you to know that we appreciate your willingness to volunteer and so a teacher will connect with you personally. 

Finally, as the warm weather comes to an end, we want to remind everyone to be sure to dress properly for school.  The mornings can be quite cool now, and the weather can change on a dime meaning that shorts and t-shirts in the morning may need to be covered up by sweaters and pants in the afternoon.  Students will be expected to go outside in all sorts of weather so if you can take the time to chat about being prepared for Canadian weather, we'll all be happier - students, parents, and teachers!

One other event at the end of October is being held in our community to support not only one of our own Acton community members but young children across the country affected by Duchenne Muscular Distrophy (DMD).  See the link here to find out more about how you can be involved and also have some fun with your children in their Hallowe'en costumes.  Check out the Trek for Treats at

September 25, 2017 - HEAT WAVE message

Dear Parents and Guardians,

I don't think you need reminding that we are experiencing a heat wave.  Fortunately due to the PD day today, students were not in the school.  However, tomorrow they return to regular classes and we expect the temperature to continue to stay above 30 degrees Celsius with a humidex into the 40s.  Students are reminded to dress in cool comfortable clothing.  They are asked to remember to bring water bottles to school (which they can refill) in order to stay hydrated.  Breaks tomorrow will be altered to reduce the time outside.  Teachers will reduce physical activity requests and will find cooler spots in the school to teach students if necessary.  Thank you for your attention to this matter and we look forward to the cooler weather which is on its way on Wednesday. 

September 7, 2017 - We're right back at it!

Dear Parents and Guardians,

Three days in and the start to the school year has been a good one.  The first two days of school are “non-rotary” days which means that your child has spent the entire day with their homeroom teacher.  This helps build relationships, helps the students get to know each other, and let’s them get used to and be a part of building the physical space of their own classroom.  

As part of this community building in the school, we are having a spirit day on Friday that asks students to come dressed as  something that inspires them, they are passionate about, or that speaks to their identity.  Is your child a fan of Harry Potter and knows everything about the books or the movies?  Then your child can come dressed as Harry Potter (or some other character)  Does your child love to bake?  Come dressed as a baker.  How about a child that wants to travel to Mars.  Come dressed as an astronaut.  Is your child the one at home who’s got a super sense of style?  Maybe they want to share their passion for designing. Does your child bring home animals that need saving?  Well, then maybe they should come in vet scrubs! Whatever it is that excites and motivates your child, we want them to be able to share their passion with their friends and with their teacher on Friday.  

But we are not just talking about the kids here...did you know, that on our staff we have marathon runners, roller derby players, choir members, cyclists, golfers, dressage riders, and so much more?  Well, on Friday our teachers are going to share their passions as well.

In the end, we hope that our classes look like the picture below and that every person in our school leaves from their first week of school having gotten to know a little bit more about each other and shared of themselves.  

So, don’t forget and please encourage your child to share their passion.  We can’t wait to see what Friday will look like!  

September 5, 2017 - First Day of School  

I think this was one of the best first days of school ever!  We started the day with everyone in the building outside meeting and greeting parents and students and helping direct them to the appropriate class.  The weather held off so we all stayed dry before entering the school (and it managed to hold off so that we could make it outside for both recesses!).  All the students were in the right classes.  All the students (either walking or on the bus) made it home safely.  There really isn't much more you can ask for from a first day.  But it gets better.  We were tweeting out for most of the day; pictures, comments, and observations about going back to school. When I checked our Twitter feed at the end of the day we had increased our followers by 35! We have broken the 300 followers barrier!  Woot woot!  Finally, we had a wonderful assembly where we introduced our new staff and students.  The best thing? - When every student in the gymnasium stopped talking as our newest/youngest students entered (the kindies) so that they wouldn't be overwhelmed by the noise.  We have a caring community.  So great to be back.  Go Mustangs!

August 29/2017 - Welcome Back!  

Dear MSB Families,

As you are aware, we have been working hard in the school all summer to update our facilities. We are having new primary washrooms installed, air conditioning on the second floors of both buildings, new exterior and interior doors (where needed), new lighting in the Bennett building (the one to the North), a new Life Skills classroom, and a complete overhaul of the old Life Skills class. That’s a lot of work in 9 weeks!

Due to the construction, teachers have not been able to get into the building at all this summer. This is normally when they would set up their classrooms and prepare for welcoming students on the first day. Therefore, the first day of school, September 5th, may be one in which we are all creating our classroom environment/spaces together. 

There are always a few students with specific medical needs and/or special needs that have transition meetings before entering school. Due to the renovations, we cannot hold those visits as hoped. SERTs and teachers will contact those families early in the year to connect around transition planning. If this changes, we will contact those families with direct invitations, but for now, we must adhere to Ministry of Labour policies and procedures around construction sites. 

For those students with medical concerns, please note, new medical forms were sent to existing families in June. Appendix A: Form 1 is to be used to request that school personnel administer prescribed medication. Appendix B: Form 2 is to be used to authorize a student to self-administer prescribed medication. New to this process is that these forms need to be signed by a regulated health care provider. Copies of these forms were attached to the e-mail message sent out to all of our returning families. 

As usual, class lists will be posted on the front doors of the school on Friday, September 1, 2017 at 2pm. They will be posted simultaneously here on the website and with a link through Twitter. You will need your child’s OEN number, found on their report card, in order to access the information. Students entering in JK will receive a separate e-mail message on that day. 

Finally, a reminder about reporting absences for your child. As you can imagine, the first day will be very busy in our office ensuring that every child (new and returning) have arrived safely. We have 3 ways in which you can report an absence. 1. Call 1-877-409-6310 2. Go to 3. Download the “SafeArrival” app for iphones and androids. This take a few minutes to download and set up but is truly the easiest way to report your child’s absence from wherever you are. 

Thanks for your support as we begin this new school year. We are excited about the new changes to our building and look forward to a positive start and a full year with our MSB families.

June 30/2017 - Year End Summary (much the same as last year...different names!)

As I sit at my desk at 7:30 in the morning (yes, it's the only quiet time of day) and try to process what to write as my end of year message, I'm drawing a complete blank. Not because there's nothing to say, but instead because there is so much and I'm not sure I have the brain energy to share it comprehensively. Shortly the students will enter. Some will be excited. Some will be sad. Some will be anxious. Some will be, just....done. (This applies to our teachers as well!!)  For our Grade 8s moving onto high school and moving from being Mustangs to becoming Bearcats, we hope to see and hear about them in the upcoming years as they start to blossom and come into their own.  For our kindies who have started the year with us, we look forward to watching our graduating class of 2026 as they learn and grow. For everyone in between, we look forward to seeing everyone back, rested and relaxed from a summer with family and friends ready to tell us about their learning journeys outside of these four walls.  

At this time of year, while the students are thinking about summer, we have already been planning for next year and more importantly, the next few months. Over the summer, we will be a construction zone. We are having the lights replaced in one of our buildings, air conditioning put in on the second floors in both buildings, our Life Skills classroom kitchen being renovated, our new Life Skills classroom being created, and our Primary washrooms being renovated. It will be a busy place and fingers crossed, all construction will be finished so we are ready to enter an upgraded school in September. We will also have some staffing changes. We have an incredible group of LTOs (Long-term occasional teachers) who by the very nature of their contracts are only with us for a short time.  However, they have made a huge impact on our school and it’s important to say goodbye and wish them well.  Goodbye to Ms. Abela (FDK), Ms. Murphy (Primary Planning), Mr. Fry (gr. 4), Mr. Philipp (gr 5), Ms. Kim (Music), Ms. Job (EA), Ms. Puri (gr. 7), Mlle. Nicholson (gr. 7/8), Ms. DaCosta (EA), and Ms. Emmerson (EA).

We also have some long time members of our community moving on to new teaching positions.  As with any job, this happens for a variety of reasons (wanting to be closer to home with family, looking to spread their wings and take on new challenges, or just ready for a change to help them continue to grow and be effective as educators).  It is a tough day when we say goodbye to people who have been core members of our staff, since their contributions to this school by helping students develop in the Arts, Literacy, Numeracy, and through extra curricular teams, clubs, and sports have helped to make a difference for kids every day.  While we will miss them, we know this change will mean that they get to share their passion and expertise with a whole new group of students who will be the better for it.  We say goodbye to Mrs. Cannataro who is moving on to become SERT at the newly re-built Martin Street PS.  Ms. Graham is returning to her previous teaching position at Emily Carr PS.  Mrs. Rhodes and Mrs. Dagenais are going on a Maternity Leave (best wishes to both of them!).  Mr. Kennery (our CYC) is moving on to bring his skills to Ethel Gardiner PS. Mrs. Elliott will be in a new role supporting ELL students in the board. Finally, Mrs. McLaughlin, an EA here for many years, is heading off to a well-deserved retirement after a long career of supporting students with special needs.

Those staffing changes mean that we also want to take the opportunity to welcome some new people to our building.  Joining us next year at MSB will be Mrs. Watson who will be a new SERT; Mrs. Balkind who will be joining us as a new Life Skills teacher; Mrs. Baker will be joining us in our Primary grades, and Mr. Wolfraim will be our new CYC. We are very excited to have them join us and look forward to working with them in the fall.  

Finally, I would just like to say that it is a privilege and a blessing to be working with such a dedicated community of educators and students who at some point in every day (yes, every day) bring a smile to my face.  

Have a wonderful summer.  See you in September.  

May 8, 2017 - Outdoor Education Day is coming soon!

I remember as a young kid playing outside all day and not being expected back inside until the streetlights came on. I remember hoping that my mom wouldn't be the first to call out the door and tell me to come in before the games were over. I remember washing the dirt off my hands and keeping my hands under the warm water as long as I could because my hands were so cold. As kids, many of us from a certain generation spent a great deal of time outside, unsupervised, and busy. Those were good days.

Now, don't get me wrong. I was also pretty much the first generation to grow up with a TV in the fact, several, which I watched pretty much all Saturday morning and Sunday morning (Buffalo shows such as Commander Tom, Davey and Goliath, Gumby, and of course, Sesame Street and I was always wondering why Buffalo always seemed to be on fire on the nightly news with Irv Weinstein!). I was also the first generation to play video games in my home. My brother and sister and I were playing Pong and Duck Hunter on our big console TV whenever we could.

So, let's be clear, I'm not anti-technology and clearly my mom was wrong when she said I would "ruin my eyes" by staring at the TV screen for so long. But, somewhere along the way, we seem to have lost the balance of outdoor time and indoor time.

Indoor time is great. It provides us with time to be alone. Time to be with our friends. Time to be bored (yup...bored...). Time to re-energize. Time to read books. Time to listen into adult conversations. Time to clean our room.

Outdoor time provides us with time to wayfair (learn how to find our way and understand directionality) through neighbourhood games. Time to play with our friends. Time to look at the sky. Time to daydream. Time to re-energize. Time to get dirty (yep, I'm one of those who believes that a little dirt keeps you healthy). Time to understand our connection to the natural world around us. And most importantly, time to problem solve without our parents around (providing us with skills and resilience).

This May 18 is Outdoor Education Day around the world. Teachers at MSB are being encouraged to take our students outside and teach as much as they can through the natural environment. This may mean planning activities on our school property but it may also mean activities in our community. Part of the reason why I'm writing this is to make you aware of the need for children to be outside and navigating the world around them but also to give you a heads up that one of our goals over the next few years is to re-imagine our school yard to make it more amenable to teaching in the great outdoors. We'd love to hear from you if you have any ideas about what you think could be added to our playground (keeping in mind, we want to make as natural environment as possible). I'm also writing this in order to encourage you to spend some time outside on that day yourself (or any other day) learning with and learning from your children. Get out some chalk, toss a ball, skip, wander around the community and ask your child to lead you out and back. Even if only for an hour, you'll be helping to return that balance between outside and inside time. And since you are already on the computer (or tablet, or phone) looking at this, take a minute to read about a family in England who celebrated teaching and learning outside and how they connected a whole lot of school subjects into one day outdoors. See you outside on the's hoping for sunny weather (but being outdoors in the rain is just as great)!

May 1, 2017 - Some reminders

1. Acton Candlelight Tribute taking place this Thursday at 6:30pm (assembly at St. Alban's or the GO Station).

2. Support MSB when you are doing your annual gardening events. Buy and Reds' Garden Centre and donations will be made directly to MSB.

3. Don't forget our Celebration of Learning tomorrow night (May 2) at MSB. The doors are open wide and we are happy to answer any questions you have.

4. Follow us on Twitter at @MCKSmithBennett - always lots to see and read about on our Twitter account.

May 1, 2017 - Community Connections

Schools are extensions of the surrounding community.  Embrace the community, or the community will never embrace the school.  Those are words that we try to live by here at MSB and each day we attempt to strengthen that community connection.  During this school year, our students and community have connected through the following events:  cleaning our school yard and surrounding streets on Earth Day; raising funds in the school to give back to our community such as the Halton Learning Foundation, The United Way, or Free the Children; raising awareness of the diversity of needs we have in our school through “Raise the Flag” ceremonies or highlights on our morning announcements; inviting the community in for events such as the chess, volleyball, and basketball tournaments; connecting with our sister schools (ADHS and RLPS) through shared staff meetings and PD days, Safe School Ambassadors, and grade 5 to 6 orientations; connecting with community businesses through fundraising and donations of needed materials; inviting parents into our school for events such as Meet the Teacher, Science Fair Presentations, Social Media Awareness for Parents, Kindergarten registration and orientation nights; and finally communication through our website, Twitter and articles in The New Tanner.  We do all this because we believe in the saying “It takes a village to raise a child”.  

Our question to you:  How can we get more parents in our community involved and engaged in our school?  On May 2 from 5:30-7pm, be part of the village and join us as we open our doors for a Celebration of Learning.  You’ll get a chance to see how and what kids are learning in school these days and we’d love to hear your ideas about how to stay connected with you!

April 6, 2017 - Hiring, Staffing, Class-building, Professional Development, Ministry Math Initiatives, and Social Media!

Hiring and Staffing: Another busy month has come and gone and there is so much to update and inform our parent community about. First off, we are in the midst of our staffing process for next year already. At MSB our numbers are increasing slightly for a few reasons. First, due to the change in how French Immersion is offered in our board, many of our students that would transfer to Robert Little for Grade One French Immersion will remain at MSB for next year. This means that we are growing in our primary classes. In addition, we have been allocated another Life Skills class here at MSB. This is wonderful news for a number of reasons. It's great to have another Life Skills class to provide specialized programming for students in Acton and the surrounding community. In addition, it means that our present Life Skills teacher, Mrs. Dagenais gets an opportunity to work in partnership with another Life Skills teacher providing a rich and engaging programme. These changes mean that we are in a position to hire some new teachers to our school for the 2017-2018 year and that process will happen over the next few months. The process can go as late as September 1st, but we hope that all of our staffing is in place long before that. However, in the short term, we do want to inform you that Ms. Peters has gone on a leave and presently Mr. Fry is replacing her until we can complete the hiring process for her LTO. We will inform Ms. Peters' students' parents once we have that information.

Class building: Talking about next year, also brings up the question of class building. Outside of hiring, classbuilding is one of the most significant tasks we will take on over the next few months. Just in case you are wondering, classbuilding is like the most difficult Sudoku you've ever done. Teachers spend many hours reviewing the learning profiles of our students; they look at academic achievement, learning styles, and strategies and structures that provide each child with the best chance at success. We take into account social groupings (ones that should stay together and ones that need some time apart), and try to find a balance of boys and girls in each class as well as creating instructional groupings that will provide challenges for kids but also give them opportunities to learn and work with each other. This information, combined with our knowledge of the teaching styles of staff members is utilized to create classes that we hope will allow each child to be successful. Trust us! We want successful classes just as much as you do. As parents, we know that you understand your child from a different point of view and may be able to provide us with additional information about the learning environment that would best support your child. If you feel that you would like to share some of your insights into your child's learning, please write to me (Mrs. Phillips) with the factors that you feel we need to consider when placing your child(ren) no later than Friday, May 5, 2017. Please, please, please, do not request specific teachers. Teachers change jobs for all the same reasons that other people do: they might be looking for a job closer to home or child care; they might be looking for an opportunity for growth in a different subject area or grade; or they might be looking for a leadership opportunity such as opening a new school. As mentioned above, staffing changes occur continually right up until September therefore a request for a specific teacher simply cannot be honoured. In addition, since this is a complex puzzle, we will not accept requests that come in after our cut-off date mentioned above. When requests come in after classes have been built, it upsets many careful decisions that have been made for the entire group. For this reason, we will review requests that are made in writing prior to the deadline. In the end, the school reserves the right to make final placement decisions. Our goal is to make the best decisions for our students based on our in-depth knowledge of the students and the culture in our school. Thank you for your support as we work together to the benefit of our students.

Academic and Professional Development​:  Just as we did in the winter, we are releasing our Primary and Junior teachers for another round of math professional development. Teachers will be released in their teams to plan for an upcoming unit of study in Math and then they will be released again to teach that unit, observe each other, tweak and re-calibrate the lesson, and then return to class to consolidate what they've learned. This will be taking place throughout much of April.  In addition, we have been asked to be part of a pilot project using robotics and coding to teach number sense and basic math skills to students across all grades. We have a team of teacher leaders who will be trained to work effectively with robotics and who will then provide leadership to other teachers in the school helping to spread the understanding and use of robotics and coding in mathematics. Furthermore, there is an after school math upgrade programme that is being organized by Jason Hayter (principal at Robert Little) for grade 7 and 8 students who might need extra support to help them develop a greater understanding of number sense and numeration (what we oldsters would refer to as arithmetic).  It will begin on May 1st, run twice a week (Mondays and Wednesdays), will continue for 10 sessions and end on May 31st.  Again, this programme focusses on helping students to better develop their number sense skills through robotics and coding activities.  We will be identifying students that would benefit most from this programme and will be contacting families shortly.

All of this focus on increasing our achievement in mathematics comes directly out of our review of our EQAO results and is supported with resources by our board. For those of you interested in learning more about what math looks like in an HDSB classroom, the board has created 3 videos for us to share with families. These videos, I believe, help answer a lot of questions that parents have about math and how they can support math skills acquisition at home (just as you do with reading acquisition). The first video can be seen at the following link: I will post the other videos as they are released to us.

Finally, we have an incredibly brave and cutting edge staff here at MSB who are beginning to work with a process called "Instructional Rounds" which asks them to open up their classroom doors, invite their colleagues in to watch and observe their lessons, and then take steps to help improve our instructional strategies across the whole school. Scott Podrebarac (our Superintendant), Lisa Serebrin (our former Principal) and many of our other staff have created a team to help move this process forward. Every staff member at MSB is committed to making sure that we are doing everything we can to help our students succeed and achieve at a high standard.

Opportunities for Students to learn from each other and from others:  We are very excited that Chris Vollum will be joining us again here at the school on April 12th to present to our students and to our parent community in the evening. We find that his presentation to students is effective because he doesn't ask them to turn off their technology, instead he asks them to work diligently to create a positive on-line profile. He discusses the importance of a personal/professional on-line image and helps walk them through the challenges of creating such a profile. In the evening, he meets with parents (no kids at this session) to help parents understand the reality of digital technology. He walks parents through the most frequently used social media platforms and apps, helping them to understand the positive and negative uses, why kids like them, and how to be involved in monitoring your child's on-line presence. He always takes time to answer parent questions and reflects on his own learning about the digital media world through his own experiences as a parent trying to navigate it on his own.  

Another exciting opportunity for our students is the Safe Schools Ambassadors programme. This programme involves choosing students to act as Safe Schools Ambassadors at MSB. These students do not step in and navigate fights. They don't act as mediators when there is a problem. Students do not run to them to get them to solve a problem. And they do not act as mentors/problem solvers for younger students. Instead, these students are trained to help alleviate issues in common everyday social situations before they get out of hand and become problems. They meet regularly to talk about the issues that they are seeing within their own peer groups and come up with common language or strategies to defuse issues in the moment.  Students and teachers from MSB will engage in several training opportunities that will be provided by ADHS staff and students before we begin trying to run it here.  Hopefully, this will help to develop empathy, resilience, and problem solving skills in our students.    

Communication:  We have begun using a new (old) communication tool to add to our website, synervoices, and Twitter feed and that is our "School Update" section in "The New Tanner". Each month, we will be submitting an article with pictures about something we want to highlight in our school. It will be tough to choose just one thing each month with so much going on, but we will do our best. If you haven't read it already, check it out. Our first article is about the benefits of "hands-on" learning. Hopefully, one of these avenues will help you to keep connected to MSB and help us to continue to share the good work that is going on within our building(s).

That's it until next time!

March 16, 2017 - Communication, Staffing, Facelifts, and Professional Development

So here I was, patting myself on the back for our excellent communication in my January message, and then I stopped communicating...or at least that’s what it looks like when you look at the webpage.  The reality is, there are so many communication options these days, that it is hard to keep up. In addition, we try very hard to make sure that whatever we communicate, gets to the right people and isn’t just being sent to everyone regardless of need. We communicate daily with Twitter, at least once a week (if not more) with our Synrevoice callouts (the e-mail messages or voice mail messages that you receive from the school), and monthly through our School Council meeting (check the minutes and you’ll see the Principal’s message there).  And, of course, through our website.  So apologies all around to those of you who only look at the website.  Here’s what’s been going on and what you need to know coming up:

We have had some LTO teachers come, go, and stay here at the school. So just to make sure everyone is up to speed, I have updated the staff list on our website and indicated who is with us until the end of the year.  Everyone you see on the staff list will be in our building following the March Break.

Throughout the year our school has been given a facelift.  We have painted the hallways throughout most of the school (Grade 6 hallway, Grade 8 hallway, South and North Gyms, Life Skills hallway, and the boys’ and girls’ washrooms across from the library); over the March Break we have had the carpet in the library and the music room replaced; and we have had new mats put into both gyms to cover the walls.  Finally, we have replaced the broken sound systems in both gyms.  Starting with the greening of the link in September, all of this helps to create a positive atmosphere where students and staff want to keep it that way and make an effort to keep common and classroom areas clean.  Keep an eye out for more upgrades as we start giving the school an electrical overhaul in the Spring.

Professional development goes hand in hand with the academic achievement of our students.  Here at MSB, we take professional development seriously and spend every moment of our staff meetings and PD days focussing on how to become better teachers.  We also find creative ways to release our teachers so that they can learn from each other.  

For example, over the winter months, we released all of our Junior, Intermediate, and Primary Math teachers to meet with the math coach, the Instructional Programme Leader and the Ministry SAO support.  They planned lessons together that focussed on thinking and application skills which were identified as weak areas for our students through the EQAO data. They taught a lesson, had others observe their teaching, then they sat together and talked about how it went, what needed to be done differently and what the students learned.  Finally, they went back into the classroom to tweak the lesson and make the changes.  We have found that this is an excellent way to examine our own teaching and learning practices in math and can be carried over into other subject areas.  We will be releasing all of our Math teachers to work through this cycle again in the Spring.  

Our French teachers have been involved in an action research project that has them working closely with the Special Education teachers to find ways to meet the needs of special education students in French.  This project will also continue into the Spring and will involve them giving up their lunch hours and extra time to meet, share ideas, and learn from each other.

As a former teacher and Vice Principal at Robert Little, I know how connected the two schools are with many of our families having children in both schools.  As a result of this, our teachers are also in the midst of planning opportunities for both the schools to work together to learn from each other (we had a shared Staff Meeting in February) and to share our learning with our community.  Keep an eye out for a Spring Celebration of Learning that will be produced jointly by both schools.

Finally, we spent the last staff meeting and PD day focussing on innovation in education.  Staff learned more about a process called “Instructional Rounds” that helps a school look carefully at a problem of practice and develop a plan to change the practice; we listened and learned from teachers in our school who were teaching and assessing in new and effective ways; and we talked at length about how we can best meet the needs of our students, knowing what we do about good teaching practices, but still work within the confines of the reality of our “school system”.  These are challenges that we face every day as we welcome students into our classrooms and try to create a safe place where students can grow and learn.  I can tell you that MSB staff is definitely up to the challenge.

There is so much more going on here at MSB, but in order for this not to become a novel, I will save that for the next message (or Tweet, or Synrevoice) and hope that you will continue to follow us in the way that best meets your needs.  Now that’s 21st century communication!

January 16, 2017 - Communication, Extra Curriculars, and Kindy Registration

At the last school council meeting I asked parents to tell me, What could we do better? What would make MSB the best place for your children to be? How can we connect with our community more effectively? and many other questions. The answers to those questions have now become a part of our Five Year Plan created to help us map out where we want to go and, even more important, the steps we need to take to get us there.

One of the items that came out of the parent discussion was the need for greater communication between home and school. We have made several attempts to increase our level of communication here at MSB: updating the principal's message on the website more frequently, tweeting out daily the wonderful things happening in our school, encouraging parents to connect first with teachers with questions or concerns before "going straight to the top", and finding ways to invite our community into the school. This month we have the Acton Hub in connection with ROCK who will be running presentations for our intermediate students to help them better understand the mental health supports available to them in our community. In addition, we will have Inspire Halton joining us for a lunchtime to highlight Bell's "Let's Talk" focus on positive mental health. Our Wellness Committee is up and running with the help of one of our parents, Ms. Bell and they will be looking at ways to foster, support, and highlight the need for positive mental health in families and at school. Reds Garden Centre and Ms. Skinner continue to help make sure that our link remains "green" and we will certainly be looking for willing volunteers to overhaul our garden beds once the weather gets warmer.

Another desire was for parents to know about the extra curriculars that are available at the school and when they run so that they can encourage their children to get more involved and become better connected with their peers and with teachers outside of their classroom. In an attempt to get that information out there, I have asked teachers to add the extra curriculars that they run to a shared google doc. The document can be accessed here:

Extracurriculars Link

Now, please be aware that this doesn't list ALL of the extracurriculars. I haven't listed any that have come and gone and/or that are ending soon. In addition, opportunities come up on an ad hoc basis as teachers review their own time and energy before deciding to offer something outside of class time. Either way, hopefully this provides a place to start as you look at what is available for your child and we hope you do encourage them to become involved in their school in many different ways.

Finally, this week we look at inviting the newest members of the MSB community to join us as we begin our Kindergarten Registration on Tuesday, January 17th. Parents of children who will be four years of age by December 31, 2017 are encouraged to join us in the library from 1pm to 6:30pm to register your child for Full Day Kindergarten. We will have our secretaries there to get you registered directly into the system. Some of our administrators will be there to meet and greet. We will also have a Kindergarten and Early Childhood Educator there to answer any questions you may have. In order to register properly, you will need proof of address (any two of the following current documents: lease or deed, car registration, property tax bill, utility bill, residential telephone bill, moving bill, health card, bank statement, credit card statement, correspondence with a government agency), proof of the child's age (birth certificate, passport or baptismal/faith document for your child), proof of citizenship: (birth certificate or passport or Record of Landing [IMM 1000] or Permanent Resident card), and proof of immunization. We do have a photocopier available so that we can copy and return original documents on the spot. If you know of anyone who has a child of this age, please share this information with them. 

In the meantime, keep checking here and Twitter @MCKSmithBennett to keep up to date on what's happening within our walls. We look forward to working with you to provide the best educational experience we can.

January 10, 2017 - !Busses Cancelled!

When busses are cancelled this means that there is no transportation before or after school, even if the weather improves. Please be aware that students will not have transportation home at the end of the day. On a bus cancellation day, typically over half our school is absent. In case you were wondering what this looks like at school, sometimes our teachers collapse classes in order to be able to provide a viable and engaging programme for students (which usually means at least some time out playing in the snow...fully encouraged by me since that's the best kind of daily physical activity!). In addition, many of our older students choose to wander in and out of school (coming and going as they want). While we appreciate their independence, this creates havoc in our attendance process as we must confirm by voice with parents if students are allowed to leave. If your older child has chosen to stay home, please have them remain home. If they have chosen to come to school, please encourage them to stay at school. Last bus cancellation day we had to follow up on over 350 absences so reducing the amount of "I'd like to call home because I don't want to stay at school" phone calls would be appreciated! As always, drive safely in this weather as the snow continues and the winds pick up, and we look forward to teaching and enjoying this snowy day with everyone who is in the building.

January 9, 2017 - Challenges, Successes, and Goals

Having been an educator all my life, in one form or another, to me the New Year always starts in September.  However, for the rest of the world, we celebrate that in January, so I will bow to convention (for once!).  Whether you think New Year’s Resolutions are a good idea or not, it’s never a bad idea to stop and take stock of where we are at and where we are going (whether you choose January, September, or some other date).  Therefore, let’s take a moment to think about the challenges we continue to face, our successes so far, and our goals moving forward.

Challenges we face in the 2016-2017 school year:

  • Struggles with maintaining positive mental health among our students
  • A physical building that is large and long (very long!) which can result in a feeling of disconnection or isolation among staff and students
  • Continued reliance by students on solving their problems by using their hands first and/or hurtful words
  • EQAO scores that indicate our students are struggling with understanding and breaking down multi-step questions and with planning out their ideas/thinking first
Successes in the 2016-2017 school year (so far):
  • Connecting to our community through electronic media is on the increase (Twitter followers now at 232)
  • Created a Five Year Plan for moving forward at MSB in Literacy, Numeracy, Technology, Building Community and Health and Wellness
  • Teachers engaged monthly (if not weekly!) in PD to support their professional learning goals (French Literacy, Mindfulness, EQAO data review, Math Intervention Strategies, Inclusive classrooms just to name a few)
  • Descriptive Feedback Pilot Project (no marks given in this class, only constructive, descriptive feedback)
  • Opportunities for older students to mentor younger students (every class connected by Learning Buddies)
  • Monthly assemblies (Behaviour, Character [Empathy], Terry Fox, Remembrance Day, Holiday celebration)
  • Clearly defined and greater emphasis on behaviour expectations for students (beginning of year assembly; behaviour expectations posted on website, twitter, and Youtube;  new seating arrangements during assemblies)
  • Building our relationships (identifying the people in our building [check out front office display]; teachers meeting students in hallways before class and walking their students to the next class or teacher; clubs/teams/spirit days; inspirational quotes from each teacher posted around the school)
  • Reinforced our Safe and Welcome school policies (requiring all people who enter the building to check in at the office)
  • Continued our breakfast programme and Food for Kids as well as adding healthy snack bins in every classroom.
  • Greening the link
  • Re-furbishing the D&T room
  • Re-purposing/re-thinking our library space to make it an interconnected “Learning Commons”
  • Building in mindfulness activities into our classes to help students with self-regulation, anxiety, and positive mental health
  • Students engaged in Daily Five, Café, or Readers/Writers Workshop (gradual release literacy activities)
  • Supporting students with leveled literacy interventions (LLI)
  • Students engaged in multiple opportunities to talk about math, number sense, and multiple problem solving strategies
  • Beginning to repair the physical building (painting occurred over the break and many more “facelifts” to come)
  • Increased access to technology (60 new chromebooks into the school)
  • Community Circles in all classrooms to build relationships, explore learning opportunities, and manage day to day problems through CPS (collaborative problem solving) and RP (restorative practice)
  • Applied for grants to extend our outdoor learning space; increase D&T room accessibility and provide needed materials; as well as continue to renovate our library space (still waiting to hear if we are successful or not)

Goals for the 2016-2017 school year (that we are still working on):

  • Create smart, knowledgeable, media savvy, social media citizens (Chris Vollum presentation to students and parents; creating classrooms that allow students to share learning through technology; a library that is becoming a place to connect students globally)
  • Connecting with our feeder school (Robert Little), high school (Acton District) and our parent community (Chris Vollum parent evening; Celebrating our Classrooms night [literacy, numeracy, science, physical education, French etc.];  clubs and teams [posted in advance for parents]; Peer Mediators/Safe Schools Ambassadors)
  • Continuing to build relationships (Grade 4-8 Carnivale, Blake Fly personal efficacy presentation – grades 6-8; Character assemblies followed up by furthering the learning activities with Learning Buddies)
  • Creating sensory rooms to better support student physical and mental health needs
  • Greening the front of the building
  • Create and organize a Junior/Intermediate literacy room to provide teachers with space to plan, collaborate, and access resources
  • Go paperless!  (Install a projector in each room with speakers so that student can collaborate with each other by sharing ideas and presentations and so teachers can teach interactively and through conversations and observations; increased communication through electronic media; encourage and support parents with use of Cashless Schools; photocopy codes to highlight awareness of photocopy use)
  • Students take pride in the building and their experiences here (Inspirational quotes displayed that are chosen by students [1/class]; students involved in greening of school; classes involved in monthly clean-up operations) 

Wow!  What a summary.  It IS important to take stock…because otherwise, we would forget all the good things we do.  Despite the challenges listed, I am overwhelmed by the work we have already done and continue to do here at MSB.  I believe that by focusing on the successes and goals above, we can create a safe and welcome space for our students, teachers, and community so that when we enter the building EVERYONE is ready to focus on teaching and learning.  In this way, our students can and will achieve academic, social, and emotional success. 

I’m looking forward to seeing everyone back in the building tomorrow rested and ready to learn.  Here’s to re-focusing on what counts and to a successful rest of the year!

January 9th, 2017 - School Council Message (great news!)

I hope 2017 will be as great as 2016.  The MSB Parent school council would like to thank everyone for all their hard work with the holiday baskets over the holiday period last year.  I would like to thank the Parents for donating the many Wonderful items for the Holiday baskets. Thank you to the Teacher's and Secretary's for collecting the holiday items for the baskets. Also a big thank you to the parents on the committee who helped collect, wrap, and make those baskets look AMAZING!  Thank you to all those who organized and helped on the day of the auction. The evening was a success with us raising around a $1000.00 dollars for our school. Thank you again and wishing you a Happy New Year!

Sarah Davies

MSB Parent School Council, Chair

December 16, 2016 - Holiday Concert News

It was such a disappointment to have had to cancel the Holiday concert, craft night, silent auction, and book fair last night. However, with the storm and winds that came through last night, it was the right decision. It was better to be at home and enjoying a quiet evening with family than to be battling the winds to get to our concert.

The good news is, the concert has been rescheduled for Monday December 19th, same place, same times...different day! We recognize that this is short notice, but we hope that all parents and family members that were going to attend last night will be able to come out and support our celebration on Monday. Just in case you needed the times again, here you go:

Silent Auction starts at 5:45pm and ends at 7pm sharp

Holiday Crafts run from 6-6:45pm

Book Fair starts at 5pm and runs for the whole evening.

The concert starts at 7pm.

December 13, 2016 - Safe and Welcome Schools and our Holiday Concert!

How do you have a welcoming school that is also safe?  It is a dilemma for all administrators.  We definitely want our schools to be a welcoming place where parents and community members can be involved in supporting our educational goals.  We also want our students to be safe and for their parents to know that when they are with us, we are aware of their interaction with others (students and adults) and know that their well-being is of the utmost importance.  In order to ensure that we find that balance, I want to remind everyone in our community (custodians, YMCA staff, teachers, students, and parents) of a few things.  

  1. When you come in through our front doors where the secretaries can buzz you in, we are happy to greet you with a smile, an offer of help, or an opportunity to sit and chat.  The important thing here is that you come through the front doors and do not enter the building through any other doors unless you have a key card.  This ensures that any issues, needs, or concerns you have are dealt with in a welcoming and productive manner by the people who have the time and the training to help visitors.   

  1. All staff and students in our building have been reminded not to open ANY doors to anyone (that even includes me).  As wonderful and polite (and welcoming) people in our building want to be, it is important that people coming to pick up students, visit classrooms, or drop something off do so at the front office.  In this way, we can control access to students so that only custodial parents, guardians, and assigned emergency contacts come in contact with our students ensuring their safety throughout the day.

We recognize that because of the large physical building that we have, coming to the front doors can sometimes be seen as a hassle, but I know that all parents would prefer a bit of an extra walk if it meant that our school was a safe place for students.  If we follow these two basic requests, I know that we can achieve what everyone wants for our students:  a safe AND welcome school.  

Speaking of a welcoming school. This Thursday December 15th, we have our annual holiday concert. At 5:45pm we will be welcoming people in our front doors for the following activities: Silent Auction (this is a major fundraiser for our school and is expertly organized by our School Council); Family Craft Night (students and parents waiting for the concert to start can stop by one of our classrooms opened specifically for creating wonderful holiday crafts); and our Holiday Concert run by Mrs. Lebert which showcases our music programme and our student bands. We hope that you will join us in celebrating the season.

December 2, 2016 - Snow, Concerts, and Gift Giving

I simply cannot believe that December has arrived.  With no snow on the ground and weirdly warm temperatures, it just doesn’t seem like we are 3 weeks away from the holidays.  The kids here at MSB know how much I love the snow so I diligently do my nightly snow dance (which is usually quite effective) and hope for the best.  I know, some of you are cursing me, but I know we all get a little excited when we get that first big snow!  

Another thing we get excited about in December is our annual Band performance.  On Thursday, December 15th we will be having our concert in the evening.  More details about the evening will follow with school council events as well but for now, just mark your calendars, do a little snow dance, and prepare yourself for a lovely evening out to listen to our wonderful band.  

When December hits, many of us start thinking about shopping for gifts.  The giving of gifts is a time honoured tradition.  For some it is a joyous opportunity to find the perfect thing that expresses feelings about another person.  For others it is a difficulty because it’s hard to find just the right thing to express your feelings about another person.  For others...well….

That being said, at this time of year (and at the end of the year) many people want to give gifts to their teachers.  It’s a way of saying thank you.  It’s an opportunity to teach children about the valuing of showing someone that you appreciate them.  Or, it’s a social convention that people feel they need to follow.  If you are like me with my own kids, during the last week of school (or more likely with me, the night before the last day), it suddenly hits you that you did not purchase a gift for the classroom teacher (bus driver, coach, or piano instructor) and you run scrambling to the store to pick up a plant, or to Tim’s to get a gift card, or you bake madly into the evening to put together a little “care” package.  I know that I don’t speak for everyone in this, some of you are much better prepared and have things well in hand weeks before, but for most of us….life is pretty busy.

Because of our busy lives, we often let the things that make us happy; that are going well; or that come together as they should, go unacknowledged.  The only time that we do a “full stop” on our busy schedule is when we need to fix something or, in other words, bring to someone else’s attention that there is a problem.  We make time to call the bus company to say that the bus was late picking up a child; we call the teacher to say that a child’s third pair of mittens have gone missing in two weeks; or we call the principal to say that a teacher is not responding to messages. All of these are important conversations to have (although I’d advise a string for the child’s next pair of mittens!) but so are the calls that aren’t made:  the call to tell the bus driver that your child loves the music the driver plays each morning; the call to tell the teacher that your child came home singing a math song that helped her to remember the multiplication tables; or the call to the principal to say that you love the twitter communication that’s coming out from the school (okay, I’m hoping people like that last one!).  

I get it.  Life is busy.  There are good intentions to call about the good things happening in life, but because it’s not a problem to be solved, it falls off the “to do list” radar.

So here is my time-saving but still wonderfully special solution to gift-giving:  write a thank you letter.  

Ok, it doesn’t even have to be a letter, even a brief note will do. What most people need is to be recognized, valued, and appreciated.  When I’m having a bad day, or I’ve made a mistake, or someone has yelled at me about something, I stop, dive into my thank you note folder and remember that many people have appreciated me over the years.  A note written to me in when I started teaching in 1989 can still positively affect my day 27 years later. So, instead of the 20 minutes (or more) it takes to go out and buy something, sit down and write a note of thanks.  A thank you note expressing exactly what your child likes about his teacher is worth a thousand candles, mugs, or Tim’s cards.  Just as equally important is a thank you note from a parent expressing how a teacher has made a difference in the life of a child. They are the gift that keeps on giving.


So this season, think about teaching your children the gift of appreciation through the power of positive words; it is a lesson worth remembering for all of us.

November 14, 2016 - Behaviour is EVERYONE'S responsibility

Anti-bullying week is this week.  Bullying is a real thing that takes place when one person intentionally targets another through physical or emotional abuse and over a sustained and extended period of time.  This can happen to children but it can also happen to adults.  It is a terrible thing and can leave a life-time of invisible emotional scars.  In order to confront it, deal with it, and eventually eliminate it, we need to truly understand what it is and how to combat it.

Many of us in education struggle with the use of the word "bullying" when it is used to define what are regular everyday annoyances between students in a school.  Anyone who has ever attended a school or workplace knows that it is important to develop resilience when dealing with people of different views, different approaches to life, different abilities to interact in socially appropriate ways, and different ideas about the acceptable use of certain words.  

As adults we have lots of strategies to manage those uncomfortable and sometimes negative interactions.  

We use strategies such as balancing which is responding to negatives with a positive: "Did you see what Sarah was wearing?  Looks like she time-travelled from the 80's!" "Actually, I thought she looked pretty good and I was thinking that haircut really suits her".

Sometimes we use planned ignoring: "I'm fed up with Mike, he's always bugging me about my writing.  He's such a jerk!  Did you hear me?"  "Sorry, I'm just really busy trying to get my work done.".  

Sometimes we try to use humour to diffuse a situation: "Mrs. Phillips always dresses in fancy shoes.  She probably thinks she's better than us." "What are you the shoe police?"  "Well, look at them, bright green?  It's like 'look at me!'" "Do you get a badge as a member of the shoe police or do you just get special shoes?  Maybe Mrs. Phillips is in the shoe police!  That's why she has special shoes!".  

Sometimes we use re-direction: "I'm so mad at Megan  We used to be best friends, but now she doesn't even come by my desk anymore!"  "Don't sweat it.  Hey did you see that new movie yet?  The one with where the aliens come to earth?".  

Sometimes we just say it like it is:  "I overheard Lisa talking about the text I sent.  It's none of her business and I can't believe she's talking about it!""Well, if you sent it out there, you can't get mad if it gets shared.  That's the nature of the internet. Don't complain if you post something you wanted to remain private and it ends up lighting up the internet!"

All of those situations are ones we commonly see and hear in the workplace.  But they are also ones that we easily observe in the school day. Every day, we see students who are commenting negatively about the appearance of others; students who feel that if someone hurts them (emotionally, physically, socially) then they have a right to hurt them back; students who don't understand that a text, snapchat, or facebook entry is no longer their own and is going to be subject to everyone's opinion; and students who waste their time complaining about everyone else and don't focus on what they are really at school for:  learning.

At MSB, we work hard to create opportunities so that our students can learn to be more self-aware, to be more compassionate, to be more understanding, to be more empathetic, and to develop their own resiliency when it comes to the normal, day-to-day experiences they might face.  We do this throughout the year in our character assemblies; we do this with our Child and Youth Counsellor supporting individual students and whole classes; we do this by building in opportunities for our students to have a voice in school decisions; and we do this by highlighting and modelling the incredibly good and kind things that our students do every day.  

However, we also recognize that bullying, (the intentional targeting of one person by another usually involving physical or emotional abuse and over a sustained and extended time) does and can happen anywhere, including our school.  This is why we take the time to focus on anti-bullying initiatives so that successful strategies can be brought to the forefront and so that we can remind students that we all think, believe, and act in different ways and it is important to recognize and accept those differences. 

As a result of this, we have a number of Anti-Bullying week activities coming up for students to be involved in.

Here are next week's highlights:

Monday:  Students are to wear multi-colours.  These outfits are to recognize and support the diversity and uniqueness of all of our students.
Tuesday:  Students are to wear orange.  Orange represents cultural diversity and support for basic human rights.  It is also commonly connected to racial tolerance and awareness of Aboriginal rights.
Wednesday:  Students are to wear pink which (because of a school incident where a young boy was teased for wearing a pink shirt) has become synonymous with the "anti-bullying" movement.
Thursday:  Students are to wear green.  Green represents support and tolerance for those struggling with mental health issues.
Friday:  Students are asked to wear white.  White is accepted around the world as a symbol of peace.  If we can live in harmony with one another despite our differences, diversity, and individual beliefs, then we can achieve peace.  Friday is also the day that we encourage everyone, students, staff, and custodians to wear pajamas.  This is the day that we ask everyone to bring in a loonie or a toonie to support the United Way.  The United Way's mission statement is to empower and enable a diverse community to achieve positive social development.  What a great way to sum up all the work we will have been doing this week.  Donations to the United Way have a profound impact on our community by ensuring an essential network of programmes and services that can achieve lasting, positive change.  It's a perfect way to end our week; by giving back to others.  

In addition, out librarian will be putting together a set of "read aloud" books about anti-bullying so that some of our student leaders can go into primary and junior classes to read to them and discuss bullying/acceptance/and tolerance with support by the classroom teachers.  

One of our junior teachers with the support of her students is creating a set of anti-bullying posters that outline the differences between true bullying behaviour and behaviour that is mean/rude/hurtful.  They will be delivering a poster to each classroom and the teachers in those rooms will spend some time discussing the differences between the two.

Announcements have been prepared and will be read each day to explain the choice of colours and to help students put that thinking at the forefront of their minds.

Finally, the grade 6,7, and 8 students will continue to work through many of the empathy activities that were provided to the school at the beginning of the year.  These focus on understanding your classmates, standing up for each other, and developing strategies for deflecting negative talk and actions.  

Together we really can eliminate bullying but how we behave and encourage our children to behave is EVERYONE's responsibility.

November 9, 2016 - Parent Event....check it out! 

This is a great opportunity to talk about, understand, and identify concerns about mental health in children.  Specifically designed for parents.

C.A.P.P. for Kids hosting education meeting about parenting Nov. 15, 2016 

Guest speaker Dr. Jane Storrie to speak about mental health issues, nurturing


C.A.P.P. for Kids (Community and Parent Partners for Kids) is hosting an upcoming C.A.P.P. for KIDS Community and Parent Partners for Kids with the theme,Understanding Mental Health Issues and Nurturing: Positive Mental Health in Our Youth

The guest speaker is Dr. Jane Storrie, a Burlington-based psychologist who will provide information about how to promote positive mental health in youth. She will also help parents understand when they should be concerned and explain how to find professional support and services.


Date:            Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Time:           7-8:30 p.m.; community displays are from 6:45 to 7 p.m.

Location:     Gary Allan High School/New St. Education Centre, 3250 New Street, Burlington


Admission is free, but, donations toward future speakers will be gratefully accepted.


English-speaking American Sign Language interpreters are available upon request.


In the event of poor weather conditions, please dial 311 for cancellation information.


For more information visit or dial 311.

The following message has come to us from Halton Region.  While the occurrences have been in Burlington, it is important to always be aware of possible safety issues regarding wild animals:

Raccoon Rabies
The Halton Region Health Department has received test results confirming cases of raccoon rabies found in skunks in Burlington. The rabies virus is spread through the saliva of an infected animal, usually entering through a bite or scratch. Halton Health Dept reminds anyone who comes into physical contact with a raccoon or other wild animal to see a physician immediately about post-exposure rabies treatment and to report the exposure to the Health Dept as soon as possible, by calling 311. 

The Health Department is reminding residents to:
  • teach children to avoid unfamiliar cats and dogs, not to touch sick or dead animals and to observe wild animals from a distance,
  • ensure dogs and cats are kept up-to-date with their rabies vaccinations, 
  • not allow pets to roam free and keep them indoors at night to prevent contact with wild animals, 
  • take pets that come in contact with a raccoon or other wild animal to a veterinarian for follow-up, 
  • not attempt to relocate wild animals. 
More information about rabies is available at

November 8, 2016 - Remembrance Day Assembly Rescheduled

Urgent.  The Remembrance Day Assembly that was planned for tomorrow has been rescheduled to Thursday, Nov. 10 at 10:15am.  Please join us and the Acton Legion Colour Guard on the new date!

November 7, 2016 - What's happened and what's coming up:

We have had a busy autumn at MSB!  So I’m just going to start right into it!

At the October School Council meeting, a new School Council was elected for the 2016-2017 school year. We welcome Ms. Sarah Davies as Chair, Ms. Diane Gowland as Vice-Chair, Ms. Pam Campbell as Treasurer, and Ms. Sarah Ansell as Secretary. We also welcome all our parents, teaching representative (shared by Mr. Tony Robinson and Ms. Patt. Resch) and community member (Ms. Dorota Magiera) as voting members. In addition, Ms. Shari White has offered to be our PIC representative and the representative for the Halton Hills School Council run by Jeanne Gray our Trustee. We appreciate the dedication and time that is given to make a difference for students at MSB.

Thank you for everyone’s support with our fundraising efforts so far! Our QSP and Lamontagne fundraising has been successful so far; thank you for helping to make a difference. Funds will be used for purchasing classroom literacy materials (e.g., home reading materials, levelled literacy materials), technology (e.g., to outfit each room with a presentation/projector option so that any device can be connected and displayed) and numeracy materials (e.g., manipulatives).

We welcome back the Breakfast Club and want to say ‘thanks’ to the group of dedicated volunteers who help Gina Adema (Coordinator) run this important program for our kids! The Breakfast Club runs from 8:45 - 9:15 every Wednesday morning in the north gym. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact the school and we will connect you to Gina.

On Wednesday November 9th, we will be having our Remembrance Day Assembly beginning at 10:15 to honour the commitment and sacrifice of Veterans from the World Wars, modern day conflicts and peacekeeping missions. We have the school assembly on November 9th in order to host the Acton Legion Colour Guard as part of our ceremony. Each class will be placing a wreath around the Canadian flag and our student leaders will be leading the assembly by contributing stories, poems and songs in remembrance and recognition of our Veterans. To honour the men and women who have served our country, students will be given a poppy to wear. If students wish to donate $1.00 to support our Canadian Veterans, it would be appreciated. All donations will be given to the Acton Legion.

On Remembrance Day, November 11th at the 11th hour, we will be honouring our Veterans by marking two minutes of silence at the school. Our nutrition break time will be flipped so that students will be inside during the 2 minutes of silence.  Some of our students and staff will represent MSB at the Remembrance Day Ceremony held at the Cenotaph in Acton.

Student Progress Reports will be coming home with all grade 1-8 students on Monday, November 21st. The fall progress report card places a strong emphasis on the development of students' learning skills and work habits (e.g., responsibility, organization, independent work, collaboration, initiative and self-regulation). The progress report card also indicates how well students are progressing in all the subjects and provides an early indication of those subjects where the student may need additional help. For each subject, teachers will indicate whether the student is: Progressing With Difficulty, Progressing Well, or Progressing Very Well. Interviews will be held for most families on Thursday, November 24th (evening) or on Friday, November 25th. There will be no school for students on Friday, November 25th.

Interview forms will be sent home on Monday November 14th and are due back on November 16th - your interview time will be confirmed by the end of that week by the classroom teacher(s).

Also coming home on the 14th will be the information about the Holiday Basket fundraiser that our School Council runs at the Holiday Concert on December 15th (mark your calendars).

Starting November 14th, our Intermediate teachers will be giving up a portion of their break times to supervise a “Study Hall” that is available to students who need extra help, to get caught up, or just need some time to work on homework. This takes place in room 125.  Usually it runs 4 days a week but I will post the exact days once I have confirmed with our Intermediate teachers.

We also have more hiring to do. Another of our EAs Mr. Lawrence accepted a permanent job at another school and he will be starting there on November 21st.  We have already posted the job and will be hiring a new person before he leaves.  Mrs. Armstrong will be leaving on her maternity leave on December 3rd so we are interviewing for her job next week as well to get that in place well in advance of her move. We wish them both the best, they will be greatly missed this year.

The Santa Claus Parade is coming up in November, unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances, we will be unable to put a float into the parade this year.  However, we are already making plans to overcome this year’s hurdle to make sure that we can participate fully next year as we have in the past.

Finally, our staff spent the staff meeting this evening finishing up our visioning exercises and creating a plan for this year, next year, and the next three years after that.  Once I’ve had a chance to review that with the admin team and the leadership team, we will start thinking about allocation of funds and purchasing needs for the school.  Again, doing things right takes time and we want to make sure that all funds raised by our families is directed appropriately and usefully.  

November 2, 2016 - Workshops for Parents (like you don't have enough to do...but it's always nice to get help and find out you are not alone!)

I just wanted to give you a heads up about a series of workshops being provided by the Learning Disabilities Association of Halton (LDAH) designed for parents/caregivers of children with Learning Disabilities, Family and community members, educators, and counsellors.  All workshops are in the evening from 6:30-8:30pm and child care is provided for school age children only.  All workshops are free and definitely worth checking out.  

There are topics ranging from "Understanding Psychoeducational Assessment and IEPs" (Nov 23-Georgetown), "Understanding Learning Disabilities (Jan 18-Milton), "Transitioning into High School" (Feb 22- Acton)), "Executive Functioning Strategies" (Mar 29-Milton), "Surviving After School Homework" (April 25-Burlington), "Organizing the Disorganized Learner" (May 17-Oakville), and "Investigating ADHD" (June 14-McMaster).  Mark the dates on your calendar and remember these workshops are FREE for parents however registration is required for these workshops so sign up soon since space is limited and these look like they will fill up fast.  

October 31, 2016 - Hallowe'en Thank you's (other than it's almost over?)

I'd like to take a moment to say thank you to the teachers who organized and ran our grade 6,7,8 mummification assembly, our grades 1-5 parade, and our pumpkin carving contest.  Many hands make light work and I know our students had fun and still managed to maintain great behaviour.  I do have to apologize profusely to the parents that showed up for 6th period for the parade.  We always like to do the parade 5th period so that some of our senior students can go into primary classes over lunch and help get all of our little ones ready with their costumes.  Unfortunately, in our official notification that went home, we wrote in that the parade was happening 6th period rather than the correct period which was 5th.  As a parent myself, I know how hard it is to make arrangements for the middle of the day to see your kids doing something special at school.  It breaks my heart to think that some of you missed the parade and the excitement on your child's face. Sometimes, there are just so many balls in the air that things get dropped (I know if you are a parent you can totally relate to this!)  So please, accept my sincerest apology and know that we will try to get our home messages checked, double checked and triple checked for next time.   

I also want to take this opportunity to say thank you to Daniel the Owner of No Frills, and Scott the Produce Manager who not only donated ALL of the pumpkins for our pumpkin carving contest, but also took time out of their day to come and judge the contest!  It is wonderful to have community members in our school and engaged with our students.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.  

So, we have survived Hallowe'en which is really saying something!  However, November 1st is the true test of how well the rest of the week goes. Fingers crossed the weather stays nice for tonight and for tomorrow (I suspect everyone will need to get lots of energy burned off at recess!)

Happy Hallowe'en!!  Have a safe and fun evening.

October 14, 2016 - What we've done since September

Well, we are a month and a little bit into the school year and what a start up we've had!  So far this year we've had a character assembly focussed on empathy; two behaviour assemblies (one for grades 1-5 and another for grades 6-8) focussed on taking responsibility for your own actions; a successful open house evening for the parents of our Access (8.5) class; a largely attended grade 7 parent night for Camp Muskoka; a hugely successful Meet the Teacher Night with a pizza dinner, a quick assembly in the gym, opportunities to visit classrooms, a community fair in the gym, and opportunities to sign up for Cashless Schools and to follow us on Twitter; two fire drills; grade 7 and 8 immunizations; a kick-off QSP fundraising assembly; a wonderful day at the Acton Fall Fair; a successful Cross Country meet; Crazy Hair day; intramurals and grade 8 hockey starting up. Whew! Schools are very busy places these days and sometimes, we can get so caught up in the "busyness" that we don't take time to reflect on what we are doing and where we are going....but we've actually done that too!   

Our first PD day with staff was spent visioning and talking about what it would look like if MSB were the best school in the board.  What would students be doing?  What would teachers be doing?  How would parents be involved in the school?  What would the school look like?  Our leadership team (representing all our grades, programmes, and languages) is now taking that end result (the brainstorming) and planning backwards over a five year timeline to create a step by step plan to help make our dreams come to life.  We will look at resources, budget, class building, staffing, curriculum delivery, and community involvement and engagement; all areas where we can make change happen.  At our parent council meeting in November, we will spend some time gathering the parent perspective and Mrs. Cation, one of our VPs, will be gathering the same input from our student body. Together we will be working toward making MSB a place where students truly hope, lead, and achieve.  

I'm very pleased to share that our Twitter nation has ballooned to almost 200 followers.  We will try to honour your interest by making sure that we post something every day.  However, please know that MANY of our teachers have class Twitter accounts where they post daily events, learning, and important announcements.  Talk to your child's teacher and see if there is an account that you need to be following.  In addition, some of our parents were unable to be present for our start up assemblies and have asked for the presentations to be posted somewhere.  I guess the website is as good a place as any.  Therefore, if you are interested in knowing what was shared with students at the behaviour assembly, I have combined the two (primary/junior and intermediate) into a "parent" presentation that is posted at the following link.  Behaviour Assembly Link  Apologies in advance for the "static" nature of the presentation.  It was originally simply used as a reference for talking points so it's not the most dynamic of youtube videos.  However, it will give you the overview of the discussion we had with students.

As always, if you have any questions, concerns, or even better, positive feedback for us, please do not hesitate to call.  We look forward to a productive fall with all of our parents and students.  Go Mustangs!!!

Regards, Kim Phillips.

September 2, 2016 - Welcome Back Thoughts

Dear Parents and Guardians,

As I write this on September 2nd, it is hard to believe that the summer is almost over and the school year is around the corner!  I hope all of you were able to enjoy the hot summer days we had and that you were able to keep cool in a variety of fun and relaxing ways (personally, I can't wait for some snow!).  

It is my true pleasure to welcome all of you to McKenzie Smith Bennett P.S.  For those of you returning, I look forward to spending another year with you learning, laughing, and growing.  For those of you joining us for the first time, I know you will find MSB a welcoming and engaging place to learn.  We have a dedicated staff who works very hard to meet the individual needs of all our students and who maintain personal connections with their families.

We are sending out a special invite this year to all our parents and guardians to become an active participant in our school community through volunteering, joining our School Council (no we won't ask you to be the chair the minute you walk in the door!), or attending and supporting school events.  Research clearly supports that when parents/guardians participate and are involved in their child's education, there is a greater likelihood of academic success for the child.  On top of that, it's easier to start a conversation with "Hey, how did that number talk go in math today?" than with "How was school today?" (which we all know as parents is responded to with a mumbled..."fine").  The more you know about what happens day to day in the classroom, the more you can engage and support your child as a learner.

We truly believe that communication is the key to a successful educational experience. We are going to be reaching out to all of you in many different ways this year to establish and solidify that connection.  So keep a look out for opportunities to join us in the building.  If you can't be in the building, please follow us on Twitter at @MCKSmithBennett.  We will be tweeting out every day (if not more than once) to help you see all the great things that are happening in the building.  Take a moment right now and join our on-line community.

Together, we will continue to improve the quality of our school community and provide the best for the children of McKenzie Smith Bennett Public School.  Have a wonderful long weekend and we will see you on Wednesday, September 7 as we begin another school year journey together.

Regards, Kim Phillips

And, no, I haven't forgotten that some of our kids are desperate to find out whose class they are in!  The class lists will be posted on the front doors and a link will go live on our home page at 2pm today for anyone interested in knowing the details!  Please make sure you have your child's OEN number so that you can access the information.  

June 30/2016 - Year End Summary (not as boring as it sounds!)

It’s that time of year.  The final bell has rung, the tears have been shed, the lockers have been cleaned out, and the last bus has pulled away….another year of educational ups and downs, challenges and successes. However, education (as all teachers know) is a life-long journey and so this really isn’t the end.  For our Grade 8s moving onto high school, we hope to see and hear about them in the upcoming years as they start to blossom and come into their own.  For our kindies who have started the year with us, we look forward to watching our graduating class of 2025 as they learn and grow. For everyone inbetween, we look forward to seeing everyone back, rested and relaxed from a summer with family and friends ready to tell us about their learning journeys outside of these four walls.  

My challenge this year at MSB, as a brand new principal arriving in March, was to soak up the atmosphere, the culture, and the vibe in the building; to learn from the wonderful staff here who will go on this leadership journey with me; and to challenge myself to up my game.  I’ve tried to do this by connecting with our community through technology.  We introduced Twitter to our community in April and at present we have 113 followers.  Our challenge for next year?  3x that number so that all of our families are following and connecting with us every day.  But connecting with families will not just be done through technology, we have to be creative about how we can get our community in the building.  The more our families feel welcome in the school; the more they know about what happens in the four walls; and the more they interact with teachers and educators on a daily basis, the more conversations we will have about creating a community of learners where the village really does raise the child.  

What will this look like next year at MSB?  Well certainly there will be some changes.  We have an incredible group of LTOs (Long-term occasional teachers) who by the very nature of their contracts are only with us for a short time.  However, they have made a huge impact on our school and it’s important to say goodbye and wish them well.  Goodbye to Ms. Abela (gr. 1), Mme Burmaster-Hansen (gr. ⅞ FI), Mr. Fry (gr. ¾), Ms. Jacobs (SERT), Ms. Job (EA), Ms. Koning (Life Skills), Ms. Manson (gr. 1), Ms. Marinelli (gr. 6), Ms. Samuel (ECE), and Ms. Smith (LRT).

We also have some long time members of our community moving on to new teaching positions.  As with any job, this happens for a variety of reasons (wanting to be closer to home with family, looking to spread their wings and take on new challenges, or just ready for a change to help them continue to grow and be effective as educators).  It is a tough day when we say goodbye to people who have been core members of our staff, since their contributions to this school by helping students develop in the Arts, Literacy, Numeracy, and through extra curricular teams, clubs, and sports have helped to make a difference for kids every day.  While we will miss them, we know this change will mean that they get to share their passion and expertise with a whole new group of students who will be the better for it.  We say goodbye to Mrs. Brown who is moving on to become a system Math Coach in our board.  Mr. Carmichael and Mrs. Lewis are starting new teaching roles at Irma Coulson PS.  Mrs. Whiting and Mrs. Moxey are going to be sharing their expertise with the students at Oodenawi PS.  Mrs. Conn-Smith is joining the staff at Bruce Trail PS and Mlle Dhaliwal will be sharing her love of French at Pinegrove PS.  Mrs. Porter will be moving on to Montclair PS and Mrs. Ferreira will be teaching at Chris Hadfield PS next year. Finally, Ms. Lobelio will be joining the staff at George Kennedy PS and supporting students there in her role as an EA.  

Those staffing changes mean that we also want to take the opportunity to welcome some new people to our building.  Joining us next year at MSB will be Mrs. Donohoe who is going to be teaching as part of our FDK team; Mr. Primerano who will be leading up our grade 8.5 Access class; Ms. Okom who will be teaching grade 7 next year; Ms. Graham who will be teaching grade ⅞ FI in the fall; Ms. Touchie who will be joining us in a planning/coverage position; and Mrs. Everett who will be joining our secretarial staff.  We are very excited to have them join us and look forward to working with them in the fall.  

Finally, I would just like to say that it is a privilege and a blessing to be working with such a dedicated community of educators and students who at some point in every day (yes, every day) bring a smile to my face.  

Have a wonderful summer.  See you in September.  

April 5, 2016 - I'm back!!  

I’m very excited to be back at MSB.  After my years of teaching at Robert Little, my 2 years as VP at MSB, and my brief stint as VP at Robert Little, Acton feels like home to me and I’m glad I was able to stay in the community.  Thank you to all who have sent me welcome wishes.  I'd also like to take this opportunity to welcome Mrs. Kim Cation who is our new Vice Principal replacing Mrs. Nargi.  Mrs. Cation comes to us from Anne J. MacArthur PS in Milton and brings with her a wealth of experience in Special Education.  Together with Mr. Morton, we all look forward to learning and working together with our students and parent community over the next few months.

Speaking of the next few months, we have many exciting things happening at MSB that I'd like to fill you in on.  

First off, April is a busy month for us here.  Today we had Scientists in the Classroom visit one of our Grade 7 French Immersion classes.  The students had a great opportunity to learn in the Science Lab with hands on experiments and an engaging guest scientist.  All of this is thanks to Superior Glove of Acton who has sponsored Scientists in the Classroom for all of our students here at the school.  Over the next few months, each one of our classes will have an opportunity to engage in this program free of charge.  Also today our Intermediate students were able to take part in a Halton Skills Competition presentation in the gym.  In addition, Mr. Brodie's and Mrs. Radford's classes were able to attend the competition to take part in and watch demonstrations of activities such as the technology challenge, green energy challenge, Lego robotics, and TV/video production competitions.  On Thursday we have Tier 3 double header basketball games being played at the school and we look forward to welcoming students from other schools to join us in some basketball fun.  Finally, there is a PD on Friday April 8th to round off the week!  And that's just the first week of April.

Some other events coming up are our Electives for our Intermediate students which will be taking place on the next few Fridays.  Students will be able to swim, cook, sew, engage in leadership opportunities and so many other activities it's impossible to list. A big thanks must go to our teachers who have planned and organized these extraordinary activities designed to provide students with a chance to branch out into other skill sets.  

On Thursday April 21st we have a special social media event here at the school as well.  Chris Vollum is joining us during the day to meet with our grade 6,7, and 8 students to talk about creating a positive media on-line presence as well as how to interact, engage, and learn from others on-line with safety.  In the evening, Chris will be presenting to parents of students of all ages.  Parents are encouraged to bring their own devices and learn about what Chris shared with the students during the day as well as some important tips on how to work with their kids to ensure they become social media savvy.  

Then, as April comes to an end, we have our monthly pink shirt day on Wednesday, April 27th to highlight the need to provide a welcome, safe, and inclusive community for all of our students.  In the evening of the 27th the Halton District School Board hosts reknowned behavioural expert, Dr. J. Stuart Ablon in a presentation on dealing and addressing challenging behaviour in children and teens.  It will be from 7-9pm at the Burlington Performing Arts Centre (440 Locust St. Burlington).   Dr. Ablon will speak about why some children and adolescents have difficulty managing their behaviour. His presentation will provide an overview of Collaborative Problem-Solving, an evidence-based approach to understanding and helping children and adolescents with behaviour challenges.  Specifically, the Collaborative Problem-Solving Approach provides an alternative conceptualization to help parents with explosive non-compliant children and adolescents. The CPS model helps adults teach children lacking cognitive skills in the domains of flexibility/adaptability, frustration tolerance and problem-solving.  Dr. Ablon is the Director of Think:Kids in the Department of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital, as well as an Associate Clinical Professor of Psychology in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.  I have had the privilege of attending a conference hosted by Dr. Ablon in the past and can highly recommend attending this event.  He speaks in real terms about the needs of children and how to manage effectively as parents to support and guide them.  As a parent and an educator I came away with MANY practical ideas that I could use right away.  

Finally, there are a few community pieces I would like to highlight for you that are worth looking into or getting involved in.  First there is an Annual Food Drive happening this weekend.  All you need to do is leave canned/boxed food items on your porch or outside your door by 9am this Saturday and you can support a local family in need.  Volunteers will come and pick up the food for this FoodShare program.  Check out the FoodShare website ( for further information on items that are needed most and for more details.   Next, there is a Halton Resource Fair happening on April 30 from 10-2pm at Craig Kielburger Secondary School in Milton.  I would encourage you to find some time to attend if at all possible.  At the fair you will find booths set up to inform you about pretty much every resource available to parents here in Halton.  It's definitely worth the drive.  Finally, the Annual Candlelight Walk is coming up during the first week of May and although that is a month away, I add it here because it is so important for us to show support to the Veterans in our community for their sacrifice and commitment to our peace and safety.  The parade itself is on Thursday May 5th at 6:30pm.  It begins at Hide House or at St. Alban's Anglican Church parking lot where you can light your candles and begin the walk to the cenotaph.  Mark it on your calendar.  

One last item and this one's especially important for our web page.  We have recently created a Twitter account for MSB.  At this point we are still  trying to figure out how to best make use of it, how to attract followers in our parent community, and how to engage our student community in this new way.  As a way to kick it off, we are going to be a part of the #LoveMySchoolDay conversation on Twitter on Monday April 11th.  Teachers will tweet out all the great events, learning, conversations, and insights that they are engaged in throughout the day.  Keep an eye on that thread to see some MSB shoutouts!

I think that's more than enough for now.  I look forward to warmer weather, opportunities to learn, and great connections with our families in the community.  Have a wonderful April!

Kim Phillips