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Monday, May 14, 2018

Muskoka 2018

For the past 7 years a team of teachers and students from St. Patrick’s Secondary Sarnia accompany the staff and Grade 7 students from our elementary schools to @muskokawoods on Lake Rosseau in Rosseau, Ontario.
Over 4 days, students are involved in a variety of indoor and outdoor activities led by the secondary school teachers and student leaders. The program can enhance the culture of every school community as well as benefit each and every participant on a personal level. These activities are tailored for each group and reinforce core values: creativity, friendship, and confidence. Activities include: Indoor Climbing Room, High Ropes, Music, Dance, Giant Swing, Drama, Inside Out, Zip Line, Kinball, Cooperative Games, Fencing, Skateboarding, Art, Mountain Biking, Pyramids, and Archery.

The Muskoka Woods Experience is supportive, encouraging and challenges students and staff to do their best. As our students move on to St. Patrick’s High School they will have the opportunity to “Pay it Forward” and return as a secondary student leader.

This is my 9th Muskoka Woods experience and the amount of work and effort that it takes to get this off the ground is countless. It is hard to put an actual # of people that are involved with fundraising efforts, payment plans, and personal information forms collected. However, I would not trade away this experience as the building of personal qualities that can not be measured by tests is endless.
Indeed, being away from family for 4 days can stretch your limits. I would like to personally thank my own teachers Peter Wright 6/7, Amanda Saunders 5/6, and Teresa Thompson EA, for their commitment to our Grade 7 students on this trip. Kudos to Principal @RobCicchelli1  for his support and Jay Stewart who organizes the entire event. The commitment by all involved makes this a memorable and meaningful experience:

Elementary Students     279
Secondary Leaders       128
ILIT Grade 9 leaders     20
Elementary Staff           47
Secondary  Staff            45
Total                             509


Friday, April 27, 2018


As an attendee @CanConnectEd, Canada’s Learning and Technology Conference, in Niagara Falls Ontario, I was able to make to some great contacts, reflect on what I could share with my colleagues, and identify my own learning needs. Thank you for two great days as the highlights of my sessions were:

Brian Aspinall @mraspinall ‏ - Spotlight Speaker - "Code Breaker"

Jonathon So @MrSoclassroom  - It’s Alive: Creating an interactive Math Classroom
Matt Miller @jmattmiller- Ditch That Textbook
Katie Baumi @MrsBaumlClass - Lego Robotics and the Ontario Curriclum
Leigh Cassell @LeighCassell - Spotlight Speaker - "What If"
Lee Martin @mrmartinEDU - Spotlight Speaker - "Risk Takers Wanted: Becoming The Daredevil Your Students Deserve"
Dr. Mary Donohue @DrMaryDonohue - Keynote Speaker - " You, Us, Them; Understanding your Communication Capital"

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Technology is a wonderful tool that can connect us

This is my 10th year serving as an elementary principal, and I learn something new every single day. Sometimes I learn through my own mistakes, and other times I learn by listening, observing, or connecting with others.

At Thanksgiving Day weekend (October 6-15), my wife and I took some time off work and traveled to Sweden and Iceland to be with our daughters. My oldest daughter, Alisha, is attending Jonkoping University in Sweden through U of Windsor studying nursing for a semester while my youngest, Candice, is at Brock University in St. Catharines studying Concurrent Education. This was my first time to Europe at 53 years old on the day we were leaving.

Using technology is very important part of organizing my life and is part of my lifestyle.  Even with our busy schedules, the planning and booking of our trip to Sweden and Iceland was easily done as we are able to communicate with other through various forms of media. All of the places we visited and functions we attended we were able to pre-book and/or co-ordinate last minute with various apps.

With Google Maps outlining transportation routes and pick up and drop off times--no asks for directions anymore. Even with the language barrier, I found myself using Google Translator to understand what I was looking for. Currency converters are fantastic when determining how much you want to spend. Most of the people I observed had some a phone for taking pictures and video. While having something to eat we would Airdrop our pictures to each other and share them with our family and friends on social media.

Keeping a charge on your phone is a task and/skill as you are always looking for an outlet. Having a convertor is essential outside of North America and also to carry a portable one is definitely a good idea as nothing is worse than having your device run out of power. In addition, a luxury that was taken for granted is having access to the Internet 24 for 7. Even though I purchased a travel plan, I found myself looking for connectivity when in remote areas. Not sure why I was so driven to share on social media what I was experiencing, but turning on roaming was a costly mistake.

Most of my communication is done when I get up in the morning. I still found myself connected to staff and was able to get a good sense of their immediate needs and keep a pulse on the building. On the hand, my communication back to them and loss sense of 6 hours difference in time may have interrupted their sleep and had those questioning my sense of relaxation?

Technology is a wonderful tool that can connect us in so many important ways. We just have to be careful that we do not allow it to disconnect us from those who matter most. As an educator, I’ve found that the most transformative aspect of technology is its ability to bring people and ideas together. It can have the opposite effect if we’re not careful.