Back in October, a group of 24 parents and guardians at Van Horne went through an amazing exercise organized by our Inclusivity Coordinator, Hilary Statton. We each got 5 bright, circular stickers and were told to walk around different poster boards and place a sticker to the value listed, – such as fun, inclusion, efficiency and so on – that most resonated with what we wanted our parent/guardian community to be. The scarcity of the stickers created a positive angst within the group: “I really value ‘fairness’ AND ‘harmony’, but I only have one sticker left!”
But there was a catch. Hilary then revealed that the values we choose were actually part of four categories:
- Who are we?
- What do we do?
- How do we do it?
- How do we treat each other?
At the end of the night, four values floated to the top of the collective consciousness:
- Inclusion => Who are we?
- Making a difference => What do we do?
- Transparency => How do we do it?
- Cooperation => How do we treat each other?
Hilary then asked us to form groups and brainstorm what we want our Parent Advisory Council (PAC) to be. Here’s a sample of what parents wrote down:
- A place to create new social connections
- Influence the culture of the school
- Influence the behaviour of the community
- Not allow the school to fall behind
- To take a leadership role in school spirit
- Bridge the gap between parents and educators
- Help align parents to curriculum
- Support for new parents and cultures
- Support children to be a healthy person now and in the future
- A place where people feel welcome to participate (clear on how, remove barriers, people step-up)
- People feel a sense of belonging.
- Connected to teachers and staff, aligned with them.
What do our values look like in action?
But what really matters is what these values look like in action. At our recent PAC meeting in February, Hilary continued the values exercise by digging deeper into how these values express themselves as concrete behaviours. The 32 parents (and a brave Principal Leung) split into three groups. Each group was assigned a value and then discussed what it looked like in action. Here’s a sample of what parents generated:
Behaviours that support the transparency value:
- Budget, agenda and minutes posted online shows accountability
- School administration & PAC provide regular, clear and honest updates
Behaviours that support the making a difference value:
- Great number of “doers” in the community
- Sense of community on WhatsApp channels, communicating both fun (snow day sledding) and essential information (move to South Hill)
Behaviours that support the cooperation value:
- District support & communication with Mr. Leung; Mr. Leung’s communication with PAC/parents
- Parents supporting each other at the class level (e.g. K class needed a new flooring, parents banded together)
What actions and behaviours do our community’s core values mean to you? Does it mean helping a parent with childcare when they are stuck in a jam? Does it mean we prioritize free community events over fundraising? Does it mean inviting a parent who’s new to Canada for a coffee? Please, take a moment to share your thoughts in this survey and be as clear and concrete as you wish to.
Calling Creative Cats!
Lastly, to coincide with our values exercise and the school’s new mascot logo, the PAC is hosting a “Create our new community motto” contest. The winning submission will be selected by the PAC Executive in consultation with Principal Leung, and the winner will get a great prize pack! Read the full details and rules here.
Yours in community,
President / Chair
Van Horne PAC