By Ian Croft
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Education Week is an opportunity for schools in Alberta to celebrate learning and invite family members of students as well as other members of the communities into the school and show how students are being educated. The first celebration of this week was in 1928 and will be occurring this year from May 2-6.
“Its intended focus, provincially, was to bring about the attention of public schools and the things that are happening in schools,” said Dr. Wilco Tymensen, superintendent of Horizon School Division.
When asked about what education week is, Tymensen replied, “It’s an opportunity where we can brag/share all the great things that kids are doing, but it is also an opportunity where schools can share with the community and with parents about what are the things that kids are learning, what we are celebrating. Just building, strengthening, and fostering relationships that’s really the key piece of the week. I would say that for this particular year, it’s really around learning as a journey and I think when you look back over the last couple of years, there’s probably been a disconnect between the schools and parents and our community.”
With this being the first education week since the COVID-19 pandemic began to settle down, the division is going to be making the most of it with 47 different events scheduled between all of their schools. These events range from something as simple as an assembly to students building planter benches.
“COVID certainly put restrictions on places and on things,” said Tymensen. “It was unfortunate in terms of decisions ended up not necessarily allowing parents the same level of access that would historically have been the case. This year in particular, it’s really an opportunity for schools to reconnect with parents and welcome the community in and talk about what things are happening.”
When asked about things that are happening during Education Week, Tymensen discussed what the board of trustees are doing for the schools.
“The board of trustees at Horizon School Division, they always do something for the schools as well,” said Tymensen. “What they have done some years is they end up giving a number of books to the libraries for the kids and instilling that love of reading. This year what they opted to do is give gift cards from Chapters to all of the schools so they can pick and choose the books that they feel are the best for their context. That way they’re not necessarily providing books that they may already have.”
Finally, Tymensen discussed how important this week is in getting back to normal and fostering relationships with the community again.
“Schools are ecstatic — they’re genuinely happy to be back to normal,” said Tymensen “When you look outside and walk into the building, all types of smiles on people’s faces. Kids are happy, and staff are happy. Really, our goal becomes, given these last couple of years, we want to make sure that parents recognize that they are welcome, that we’re in this together, and that we want to do this for kids. We want them to be part of that relationship as we move forward with educating our children and our community. That’s the key message fostering those relationships and creating one sense of community so that all of our kids are successful and happy.”