A Silent and Active Science Class at SPC

We want to wish Stony Plain Central’s current health champion, Charity Erickson, well as she welcomes her new baby into the world.  Charity has passed the health champion torch onto teacher, Miranda Niebergall–a Grade 3/4 teacher.

From Miranda’s Desk:

“I am super excited to be taking on the Health Champion role at SPC. I am a new teacher who really tries to push the envelope and try new things. SPC is a happening place right now. We have significant staff changes last year, and I believe that the staff we have on board right now is looking to make SPC an even stronger learning community. The health and well-being of staff and students is a huge focus for next year! We are hoping to catapult SPC to the top of the PSD Healthy Schools list!  I am on my own personal health and wellness journey and I ultimately hope to inspire my colleagues. I was always an athlete, but when I took on the role of “Mom” I suddenly put the needs of myself behind the needs of my two children. When I turned thirty this year, I decided that I had to find a balance of my needs and the needs of my family. Because I was not taking care of myself, I was, in a way, not taking care of my family. I am now rowing 3 times a week and walking every evening with my husband. And I might add that my house has never been cleaner and the laundry baskets less empty! I have so much energy now that I am more conscious of my physical and mental well being! This has trickled into my classroom and I have noticed a huge change in my students as well! It is not that I am adding something more to my plate as a teacher, I am just changing the way I am teaching:) I am looking at all of the ways to tie in health and wellness into what I am already doing.

One example of how I’ve recently integrated this new way of thinking comes from a recent science class.  My grade 3’s are studying hearing and sound. Rather than brainstorming sounds from our desks, we took to the streets of Stony Plain. Students were given a clipboard, piece of paper and a pencil to record all the sounds that they heard while we were on our 45 min. walk. They were also asked to walk in complete silence…no talking! They all complied except when we were stopped by a lovely old lady who engaged in quite the conversation with the students about what we doing on Main Street. They were so excited to tell her what we were doing!

After returning to the school from our walk, students were then asked to plot their recorded sounds on two continuum tables–pitch and decibel level. This is absolutely something that we could have done from within the classroom, but I wanted to incorporate some physical activity into my lesson and thought that this would be a fantastic way to give both myself and my students a body break WHILE we were still learning!

After sharing with the students that we’d walked for an entire 45 minutes, my student Connor said, “Mrs. N, that was so much fun! I can’t believe that we just walked that long….it felt like we were gone for like 5 minutes.”

I look forward to sharing more of what I’m learning in my personal and professional life about health and wellness with my students.

Are We Driving Our Kids Unhealthy Habits?

The 2013 Active Healthy Kids Canada Report Card on the Physical Activity of Canadian Children and Youth is now available online. Click here to read the short or long report.  

Our Health Promotions Coordinator, Matthew Mitschke, has shared with Parkland School Division that this year’s focus is on active transportation:

  • If children walked for all trips of less than one kilometre rather than being driven, they would take an average of 2,238 additional steps per day
  • Although 58% of parents walked to school when they were kids, only 28% of their (parents who walked) children walk to school today. Meaning even less than this are using active modes of transportation to school.
  • Active Transportation may
    • Improve fitness and heart health
    • Increase academic achievement
    • Provide social opportunities
    • Reduce stress
    • Improve air quality and reduce the risk of lung disease
    • Reduce the risk of traffic-related accidents around schools.

If you would like to know more about how schools and communities are

addressing this issue, please contact Matthew Mitschke at


Partnerships at Work in Parkland School Division

Every Thursday, Spruce Grove Family and Community Support Services (FCSS), Jessie Smith, gets down on the floor of Greystone Middle School to engage in activities with students through the After the Bell program.  This FCSS-supported program is one of many community partnerships that exist at Greystone Middle School and reflects a growing trend between Parkland’s schools and community partners to support children and youth before, during, and after school with their social-emotional, physical, and academic needs.  On this particular day, over 15 students were in attendance working in small groups to design a parachute that would stay afloat longer than its competitors.

In addition to FCSS, both Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) of Edmonton and Parkland Area Young Life have been actively involved in creating positive culture at Greystone.  This year BBBS coordinator Angele Medeiros worked with Brookwood Elementary School Grade 4 students to create an in-school mentoring program with Grade 9 students at Greystone.  Both schools have identified that this mentoring program will help ease the transition between elementary school to middle school for students while strengthening the leadership skills of the older students.  Assistant Principal Tracy Lachman commented that, “this program has been such a great success for both schools.”  

Baking cookies in the Foods Lab at Greystone through the BBBS of Edmonton In-School Mentoring Program….

Parkland Area Young Life volunteers have been active at both Greystone and Parkland Village School this year.  Thanks to the work of area directors Chris Vanden Brink and Tracey Flynn, young volunteers began distributing hot chocolate to students weekly at Greystone on cold winter mornings.  This relationship with the school developed into support for both the breakfast program and lunchtime intramurals.  The volunteers have been helpful in shaping positive school culture during these unstructured times for students.   This isn’t the only school that Young Life has supported. The group has been facilitating a homework club for Parkland Village School with the support of the Evolve project.  Currently, Young Life is recruiting more volunteers to help meet the volunteer needs of other schools within Parkland School Division. If you are a young adult and would like to learn more about how to volunteer with Young LIfe, please contact Tracy Flynn at 780 910 3014.

Thank you to these and many, many other area partners who contribute in meaningful ways to our students and school communities.