Inquiring Minds is delighted to share today’s post, which was written by one of Richland Academy’s Grade Three students.  X.M. read this piece on our morning announcements today, and we are very proud of him for taking the initiative to share this important message from his perspective.The seventh annual World Autism Awareness Day is today, April 2, 2014. Every year, autism organizations around the world celebrate the day. Autism Speaks is an organization that celebrates ‘Light It Up Blue’ along with the International Autism community, in commemoration of the United Nations’ World Autism Awareness Day. ‘Light It Up Blue’ is a unique global initiative that kicks-off Autism Awareness Month and helps raise awareness about autism. In honor of this historic day, many iconic landmarks, hotels, sporting venues, concert halls, museums, bridges and retail stores, including the CN tower will “go blue”. This year I am proud to say that Richland is wearing blue and our social media sites are blue today too.

Kids with autism often can’t make connections that other kids make easily. Many kids who have autism have trouble understanding what emotions look like and what other kids are thinking. They might act in a way that seems unusual, and it can be hard to understand why they’re doing it. Imagine trying to understand what your teacher is saying if you didn’t know what her words really mean.Some kids who have mild symptoms will graduate high school and may go to college and live on their own. Some are super bright such as those with Asperger’s syndrome. These include famous people like Alexander Graham Bell (telephone inventor) and Albert Einstein, who have been thought to have Aspergers. But many will always need some kind of help. But all will have brighter futures when they have the support and understanding of their families, doctors, teachers, therapists, and friends. So be sure to be a friend!

Thanks Richland Academy for supporting Autism Awareness Day.

X.M.

 

Inquiring Minds is delighted to share this post from Ms. Amy Pitt, Richland Academy’s Performing Arts teacher.  Richland has been recognized by Unicef Canada as a Rights Respecting School, and today we honour and celebrate Universal Children’s Day.Every year on November 20th, the world celebrates Universal Children’s Day. It’s a day to enjoy and acknowledge children for just being themselves and to identify them as essential and respected members of society, now and going forward. It’s the day when the United Nations on the Rights of the Child was signed in 1989. However, the day was first proposed by the UN General Assembly in 1954, to encourage community and empathy among worldwide.  The UNCRC talks about everything from a child’s right to be free from abuse, to the right to their own opinion, the right to an education, and to medical care.At the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year, all of Richland’s classrooms created their charter of rights collaboratively as a group.Each charter is as different and unique as the group that created it both in content and design. Students and teachers learned about the convention and decided on the articles that they found most important for their classrooms. They also signed their charters and have posted them in their classrooms as a reminder to them and to others who enter their space.As Richland’s Children’s Rights Team leader, I also created a “Graffiti Wall” where staff, students, and other members of our school community could express their thoughts and ideas around what was important to include in our new, school wide, Charter of Rights for the 2013-2014 school year. This way, everyone’s valuable voices were heard. The community was invited to communicate their ideas in whatever way they wanted on the wall. Some came as a class, as individuals, and in small groups.  Some drew pictures, used their own words, or quoted directly from the convention.In October, the adult and student members of the school’s Children’s Rights Team (one member of every class from Grades 1-6, democratically elected by their peers) got to work on synthesizing all of the ideas present on the Graffiti Wall to create our School Wide Charter.  We look forward to unveiling our charter with our school community.

Ms. Amy Pitt, Richland Academy’s Children’s Rights Team Leader and Performing Arts Teacher, has high hopes for Richland students and the local and global community, as they embark on the 2013-2014 school year as the first elementary UNICEF Rights Respecting School in the GTA.  Inquiring Minds is delighted to share this post from Ms. Pitt.

Last December, we announced our commitment towards becoming the first elementary UNICEF Rights Respecting School in the Greater Toronto Area. Administrators, teachers, students, and parents worked hard towards our collective goal through surveys, meetings, workshops, and a symposium. We took on the initiative with full force because we believed in it.  It’s amazing what can happen when people come together; children and adults working together for a common goal. This September marks our first year as a Rights Respecting School and I couldn’t be more excited. Grades 1-6 elected one member of their class to represent them on the Children’s Rights Team this year. They did this through a blind vote. The Children’s Right Team will meet once a month to discuss Children’s Rights issues inside and out of our school community. Team members will also embark on Peacemaking Circles where they will become proficient at the art of peaceful resolution, an art that they can share with their classrooms and assist when inevitable conflicts arise inside and out of the classroom.  Our first task will be to synthesize the ideas our school community, (including staff, students, family members, and guests) has written on the Graffiti Wall next to Mrs. Oliveira’s office and create a new school wide charter during our first meeting in October.

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Inquiring Minds is pleased to feature the work of Richland’s Studio Teacher, or Atelierista, Mrs. Josephine Sherman.  Mrs. Sherman shines in her role of Atelierista, and brings her personal experience as an artist to further enrich the children’s learning.  As a Reggio-inspired school, Richland’s classrooms each have mini-ateliers as well as a school Art Studio for the children to work in, providing them with access to authentic materials and a creative environment. If you are unfamiliar with the role of the Atelierista, here is a description from the North American Reggio Emilia Alliance:

  • The atelierista or studio teacher has formal education in the arts, typically in the visual arts, and works collaboratively with other educators in the infant-toddler centers and preschools to further the educational project and objectives of the school community. The atelier, like the classroom, also supports the process of documentation, of making the learning and relationships of children, teachers and parents visible. This philosophical idea of exchange between fields, materials, experiences and people is so fundamental to the style of working, that each Reggio classroom also has a mini-atelier. To learn more about the role of the atelier and the atelierista, read The Hundred Languages of Children: The Reggio Emilia Approach-Advanced Reflections and In the Spirit of the Studio: Learning from the Atelier of Reggio Emilia.

Mrs. Sherman is a featured artist of the Richmond Hill Studio Tour this October.  Please enjoy this interview with Mrs. Sherman, as she shares her personal experiences and artistic inspiration.  Richland Academy is delighted to be a host venue for the Richmond Hill Studio Tour.  You are welcome to join us October 19 – 20, 2013.  For more information, contact Richmond Hill’s Art Supervisor at 905-787-1441, ext. 222, or email michelle.zikovitz@richmondhill.ca.

Richland Academy is honoured to be recognized as a Rights Respecting School (RRS) by Unicef. The announcement was made Wednesday evening by Ms. Sarah Hutchison, Education Manager for Unicef Canada, in front of Richland’s entire community at the Spring Musical Production of “Our School Song.”  Ms. Hutchison had this to say following the performance, “What a powerful and energizing evening! You must all be very proud of your students – they did an amazing job.”Together with parent and student representation, Richland’s Faculty and staff embarked on the process to become a Rights Respecting School this past December. In order to be designated as a RRS, a series of professional development workshops are necessary to explore children’s rights, rights respecting education and how to create an inclusive, safe and respectful school atmosphere using a children’s rights approach. We look forward to implementing our action plan in the upcoming school year to infuse children’s rights even more deeply throughout the school.

Here’s one of our favourite articles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article #29:

Children’s education should help them use and develop their talents and abilities.  It should also help them learn to live peacefully, protect the environment and respect other people.

The entire community is delighted with Richland’s Rights Respecting School status. Sincere thanks to Ms. Hutchison for her support throughout the process, and to Ms. Pitt for leading this initiative from a Faculty perspective.

Inquiring Minds is pleased to share this announcement, on behalf of the Richland Nature Club.

Last week, we were joined by Ms. Jocelyn Kennedy, an EcoSchools Assessor. Three student representatives from our Nature Club gave Ms. Kennedy a tour of the school and welcomed her to Richland Academy.

Areas reviewed when assessing EcoSchool status for schools include the following:

  • Teamwork and Leadership
  • Energy Conservation
  • Waste Minimization
  • School Ground Greening
  • Curriculum
  • Environmental Stewardship

Ms. Kennedy was very impressed by the eco passion and knowledge of her student guides!  We recognize that we need to do a better job with our waste management, and she gave us many wonderful suggestions which we will incorporate.“Ms. Kennedy likes that we bring nature inside and have it as part of our learning. “shared J., Grade 4.  Ms. Kennedy commented that she “felt like she was in a beautiful dream” as she toured our classrooms and outdoor green spaces. We received notification from Ms. Kennedy that Richland has achieved bronze status and is officially recognized as an Ontario EcoSchool.  Well done to everyone at Richland for recognizing the importance of environmental awareness and taking responsible action.

Special thanks to Mrs. Sherman, Ms. Ciocio, and the Nature Club for their dedication towards achieving certification as an Ontario EcoSchool – your hard work and dedication has made this a reality!

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