May. 30, 2023
Building Resiliency One Student at a Time
“We have a very tight-knit group of staff and students. We are all here to support each other, to nurture the growth of our students and make this the most amazing place to learn in Calgary.
Students and staff at Patrick Airlie School are focused on a growth-mindset and building resiliency. From art projects to math lessons, learning a new sport or building a relationship with a trusted adult in the school, students work every day toward building their skills and the courage to keep trying until they succeed.
The small community school in the community of Forest Lawn proudly welcomes more than 215 students each day. This is a very diverse group of learners; 40 per cent are English language learners, 19 per cent identify as Indigenous and nearly 25 per cent have learning challenges.
“We have a very tight-knit group of staff and students,” says Principal Mary-Elizabeth Kaiser.
“We are all here to support each other, to nurture the growth of our students and make this the most amazing place to learn in Calgary.”
Since 2014, the school has received funding and support from the Calgary Police Youth Foundation and other partners for an innovative initiative called the Integrated School Support Program (ISSP).
ISSP takes a holistic approach and provides targeted wrap-around services and supports at the school to support students and their families. The goal is to create a supportive environment for students to achieve personal, academic and social success.
“The program is intended to provide everything a child might need at the school so there are no barriers to access,” says Gillian Bowerman, program director for ISSP.
The program is comprised of five essential elements, including:
- a positive police presence;
- nutrition program;
- a full-time psychologist providing mental health support and assessments;
- after-school care; and
- social-emotional learning supports.
The school also has a full-time physical education teacher.
“The supports from ISSP really help to build a resilient community within our school,” says Jana Beswick, student services learning leader. “It enables us to focus on learning and giving our students different opportunities to enrich their classroom experience.”
Mornings at the school begin with students gathering together in their classrooms for breakfast. A hot lunch option is also offered along with a mid-morning snack to ensure all students are fueled for learning.
Most days, depending on weather conditions, students spend part of their day playing outdoors. Students also access the outdoor learning space year round to support land-based learning.
“We will be planting a school garden this spring. The kindergarten class has already begun growing strawberries in their classroom,” says Principal Kaiser.
“We have seen first-hand the difference school staff and additional supports can make in the lives of these students,” said CBE Board Chair Laura Hack. “Patrick Airlie School has become the hub of the community and they are able to address a variety of needs that benefit the school community and beyond.”
Based on the success of the Integrated School Support Program at Patrick Airlie School, the program was expanded to Radisson Park School in January and is scheduled to be introduced at 22 other sites across the province in the next two years.