Annual report for Swedish School of Vancouver, 2014-2015

During the school year of 2014 – 2015, the Swedish School of Vancouver had 61 students in the fall and 60 students in the spring. Throughout the school year, we had 34 lessons on Thursdays 4:15-6:15 PM and 34 on Saturdays 9:30-11:30 AM. The students were divided into 7 classes, from pre-school level (age 3) and up, with 5 classrooms on Thursdays and 4 on Saturdays.

The school continued to offer affordable education due to an annual grant (approx. CDN$13,400) paid out from the Swedish Department of Education (Skolverket) for our 34 students aged 6 years and older and at least one parent who is a Swedish citizen. We also raised $2,900 through several fundraising activities.

This year we did not offer any”Cultural School” classes as we could not find a teacher for this class.

The Swedish School organized and also participated in activities that were outside the regular classroom lessons. In November, students and families participated in the school’s own Christmas party. In December, many of the students performed at the Cultural Society’s Lucia celebration. At the Christmas Fair, which was organized by the Cultural Society, we had two fundraising tables: a table with raffle tickets for two great Christmas baskets, and a flea market with children’s toys and clothing. In January we had Club Night at the Centre, and even though the event was not a financial success this year due to low attendance it was a fun event with catered food and kids activities. The Silent Auction at the Club Night was a great success. In April, some families attended the Valborgsmässofirande at Ambleside Beach in West Vancouver. In June, many students and their families participated in the Midsummer celebration at the Centre, and the school had a fish pond and some games to entertain and raise money for the Centre.

May 29-31 the school’s annual camp took place at Evan’s Lake, which was very much appreciated by both children and their parents. A total of 107 children, parents and teachers attended. We had a fun camp thanks to wonderful weather, activities such as kayaking, paddle boarding, swimming, cliff-hanging, campfire, other social activities and of course the experiences of the beautiful nature surrounding the camp. The theme this year was “Circus”, and the children practiced various circus roles and finished this part of the camp with a show for the parents.

Information to the parents during the school year was delivered by a monthly newsletter via e-mail and by communication through the teachers. We continued to write our newsletters in English, to allow our non-Swedish parents to better support their children in their Swedish School activities.

The Board had four meetings throughout the year to discuss and coordinate the school year and support the teachers in their school plan. The teachers had two planning conference meetings, one to plan Lucia and the Christmas party and one to plan the camp, in addition to a social evening. A conference meeting to discuss the curriculum did not take place. On the new agenda is an intensified class that will be introduced in the 2015-16 school year. This class will be based on individual curricula developed by Svenska Distans and also incorporating material from En Läsande Klass. These classes will be a supervised on a volunteer-basis through two of our parents in collaboration with one parent from each family. The majority of these students will be meeting on Sundays 4-6 PM.

We had several new teachers join us this year, including Ida Blomqvist, Anna-Maria Hårstad and Camilla Mattsson. They have been a great contribution to the school and their enthusiasm and efforts were appreciated by our students. Linda has continued to coordinate all matters relating to teaching as the Head Teacher. Through the year we also had the wonderful assistance from Kate Rytter, one of our prior students concurrently attending Grade 11, who assisted on Thursdays.

This year we had a large turnover of teachers, and we would like to acknowledge the following wonderful who have left the school for other endeavors with a warm thank you: Ida Blomqvist, Julia Olsen, Anna-Maria Harstad, Camilla Mattsson, Annie Kvick, Sandra Benholm-Cheung, Linda Stenström. They will be missed! Joining us in the coming school year (2015-16) will be Britta Kickham, Mona Warsame, Emmalena Fredriksson and Caroline Ohlander.

We would like to use this opportunity to thank all our teachers and substitute teachers who again have done such a great job inspiring our student during their lessons in Swedish language, traditions and culture. We are very grateful to all our volunteers, a.k.a our parents, who have done everything from being on the Board through planning events, assisting in various functions and baking. Our gratitude further extends to the Scandinavian Centre for administration around rent and facility, as well as the Danish, Icelandic, Norwegian, and Finnish Houses for sharing their Rooms, and last but not the least the Swedish Cultural Society, Sweden House Society and SWEA for their support.

It takes a village to raise a child, and we could not run this organization without the help and commitment from our supporters. You all made the school year of 2014-2015 into a successful one!

September 14, 2015

Mia Logie, Chair, on behalf of the Board of the Swedish School of Vancouver

Annual Report for Swedish School of Vancouver, 2013–2014

During the school year of 2013 – 2014, the Swedish School of Vancouver had 71 students in the fall and 60 students in the spring. 4 teachers were available on Thursdays and 3 on Saturdays, providing our weekly two-hour lessons about the Swedish language, traditions and culture. Our teachers did a great job in planning classes, activities and goals; in generating academic achievement in an encouraging a motivating setting. Throughout the school year, we had 34 lessons on Thursdays and 34 on Saturdays. The students were divided into 7 classes, from pre-school (age 3) level and up. This year we had no students attending Sofia Distansundervisning. We are very proud to offer classes for such a wide range of ages, and that we had students that stayed with us through grade 8 this year.

The school continued to offer affordable education due to an annual grant (approx. CDN$15,500) paid out from the Swedish Department of Education (Skolverket) for our 26 students aged 6 years and older and at least one parent who is a Swedish citizen. As a non-profit organization run on a volunteer basis by our members, and with member families of varied economic status, this contribution is essential to us. We are a relatively small Swedish community in the Greater Vancouver area, and access to peers, role models and cultural experiences are important supporting factors in the transfer of our Swedish heritage to our children.

The large increase in students in the fall (from 51 the previous year) was largely due to opening a local chapter in Squamish. This was done at the request of our members residing there, which previously had been spending from 1.5h in the car after a full school day, to attend our classes in Burnaby. This is a major undertaking with children who are already tired from a long day or week in school, and we are fully supportive of making access to Swedish language and peers as easy as possible. However, the local chapter turned out to be too much work for two Squamish parents, who took on the work of administrating, planning and teaching. They also felt that it was difficult teaching with their own kids in the class, and that the kids who already had friends from their classes in Burnaby missed those friends too much. All-in-all, between securing grants, teachers and facilities as well as the administration and planning required and limited access to library books and DVDs, not to mention the small number of kids that speak Swedish at home, we are hesitant to recommend satellite groups in this fashion, except possibly Cultural School classes (see below).

This year we decided to offer a new set of classes for kids who do not have access to Swedish language at home. Our regular classes follow a curriculum developed by Skolverket, “Kompletterande Svenska”, which is developed for students who speak Swedish on a regular and frequent basis in the household. It is only classes that follow this curriculum that are eligible for the Skolverket grant mentioned above. This curriculum stipulates that teachers should only use Swedish language in the classroom. Students who do not feel confident in their Swedish comprehension and even expressive ability may feel a sense of failure in this Swedish immersion model, and subsequently distance themselves from the language, possibly even their Swedish heritage. Therefore we hired a teacher with experience teaching ESL students for classes that we call “Cultural School”, which we consider an introduction to Swedish language, children’s literature, traditions and customs. These were taught on four Sundays in April and May, 3-5pm. Nine students attended these classes, typically 3-5 students per class. Many students returned and took a series of classes. Even some of our regular students attended with Canadian friends to introduce them to Swedish culture. The classes received a warm welcome and positive feedback, and we aim to continue these classes on a regular basis, perhaps twice per semester.

The Swedish School organized and also participated in activities that were outside the regular classroom lessons. In November, students and families participated in the school’s own Christmas party. In December, many of the students performed at the Cultural Society’s Lucia celebration. At the Christmas Fair, which was organized by the Cultural Society, we had two fundraising tables: a table with raffle tickets for two great Christmas baskets, and a flea market with children’s toys and clothing. In January we had Pub Night at the Centre, which was organized with generous help from the Cultural Society. A big thank you to them, since the pub night raised $2,500 after all expenses were paid. In the fall we applied for an NHL night, granted by the Sedin Corner, and they generously shared their box on a game night in January with eleven of our students accompanied by three parents. In April, the students sang at the Valborgsmässofirande at Ambleside Beach in West Vancouver. In June, many students and their families participated in the Midsummer celebration at the Centre, and the school had a fish pond and some games to entertain and raise money for the Centre.

May 30 – June 1 the school’s annual camp took place at Evan’s Lake, which was very much appreciated by both children and their parents. A total of 88 children, parents and teachers attended. We had a fun camp thanks to wonderful weather, activities such as kayaking, paddle boarding, swimming, campfire, other social activities and of course the experiences of the beautiful nature surrounding the camp. The older-ish kids were also offered to participate in climbing off a cliff that has recently been developed for that purpose. This year the teachers had organized lessons with a Troll theme, including a live story session that the kids could actively take part in themselves. This year we got a CDN$1,000 grant from Riksföreningen Sverigekontakt towards the camp, and a write-up of the camp will be published in their September issue, a print magazine circulated to Swedes living abroad around the world.

The board had 8 meetings throughout the year to discuss and coordinate the school year and support the teachers in their school plan. Some of the issues that were discussed this year beyond the curriculum and administration were parent volunteering engagements, library organization and the possibility of parent-teacher meetings. We have also hosted one teacher development session, and we are evaluating how we can continue to offer teacher development on bilingualism methodology. We also offered one of our students, Saige Danyluck, a test which resulted in a recommendation to be accepted for studies with Sofia Distans in the coming year.

Information to the parents during the school year was delivered by a monthly newsletter via e-mail and by communication through the teachers. Occasionally, we sent out separate e-mails with special information. We continued to communicate with parents in English, to allow our non-Swedish parents to better support their children in their Swedish School activities.

We had two new teachers join us, Linda Stenström and Lina Nilsson, teaching our K-2 class on Saturdays and our 2-4 class on Thursdays, respectively. They have both been a great contribution to the students and the school. Linda has taken on a central role at the school as Head Teacher and with a position on the Board. Lina has unfortunately returned to Sweden and although her time with us was short, her fresh eyes on teaching and Swedish culture was valuable. Through the year we also had the wonderful assistance from Kate Rytter, one of our prior students concurrently attending Grade 10, who assisted on Thursdays.

We would further like to acknowledge and to say thank you to our wonderful teacher Ida Axelsson, who has left the school for other endeavors. Naturally our Squamish Campus teachers, Jeanette Lilja-Fietz and Jannicke Kitchen, are not teaching anymore and we thank them for all their energy and effort to make Swedish lessons available in Squamish.

We would like to use this opportunity to thank all our teachers, substitute teachers, volunteers, the Swedish Cultural Society, Sweden House Society and SWEA. Our gratitude further extends to the Scandinavian Centre for administration around rent and facility, as well as the Danish, Icelandic, Norwegian, and Finnish Houses for sharing their Rooms. It takes a village to raise a child, and we could not run this organization without the help and commitment from our supporters. You all made the school year of 2013-2014 into a successful one!

September, 2014

Mia Logie, chair, on behalf of the Board of the Swedish School of Vancouver

Kallelse till vårt årsmöte / Notice of AGM

Dear parents and supporters of the Swedish School,

We hope you have had a fantastic summer, and want to welcome you back to a new school year!

Luckily the Swedish School is not affected by the teacher’s strike, and our School Year 2014/15 will start on Thursday September 11th and Saturday September 13th as planned.

For those of you who may not have received our email, this is a notice regarding our Annual General Meeting on September 8 2014, 7pm at the Scandinavian Centre (Swedish room).

Why do we have an AGM? The Swedish School is a non-profit organization, run by a Board of parents. The Board is responsible for everything concerning the school, from securing financing to hiring teachers. At this meeting we will among other things examine school finances, classes and the coming school year (see attached agenda). This is a great opportunity to discuss matters regarding the school that are important to you.

The (current) Board is composed of a President (Mia Logie), Treasurer/ Administrator (Anette Anastacio), Vice President (Karolina Lindberg), Secretary (Linda Stenström), Teacher Representative (Monica Severinsson) and Member-at-Large (Bradley Budden). Anette Anastacio is retiring from the Board after many years of extraordinary and diligent service, Monica Severinsson due to travel arrangements and Bradley Budden as his family are considering a move to Sweden. The school will be needing 2-3 new parents or supporters of the school to join the Board to commence the new school year, in particular someone who likes to write up protocols (Secretary).

Being on the Board is a rewarding experience. We try to keep the meetings fun and light and focused on what is best for the kids. It is an opportunity to give back to our community, and even learn about how to best support bilingual children. We aim to meet once a month, either at the Centre, in someones home or online. Meeting times and locations are agreed upon at the beginning of the school year, depending on everyones schedules.

Please email us if you would like an agenda. Financial and Annual reports will be available shortly before the meeting.

If anyone joining the meeting does not speak Swedish, we will do our best to hold the meeting in English.

Classes may be over but 2013 is not over yet!

It was a busy fall! In many ways I cannot even fathom why it turned out so busy, beyond having a family member starting kindergarten and another off to preschool. You would think that would free up some time, but it is also a major adjustment for the family. As a result we have not seen so many updates on the Swedish School blog. Do not fret: There have been a lot of things happening!

Apart from running our regular week-to-week activities we are planning a few other things. Following will be a series of postings that will address some of these things.

  • We attended the Nätverkskonferens in Washington this past October, and learned a lot about how other North American Swedish Schools run their activities. We met a bunch of new people who are just as excited and committed as us about raising bilingual kids. Much new energy and ideas that will grow into our activities in the year(s) to come.
  •  We got 14 tickets some of our children to attend a Canucks game, Thank You Sedin Corner! An excited account on how the evening went will follow 2014. This creates a platform on which to bring some added excitement into our classrooms, by reading and writing about hockey this winter.
  • This spring we will be introducing a new set of classes called the cultural school, for children with little or no prior exposure to the Swedish language.
  • On January 24th we will be hosting one of our major fundraisers, the Pubnight.
  • We had a successful fundraiser at the Swedish Julmarknad, as well as the currently ongoing hockey pool.
  • We received a $1K grant from the Riksföreningen Sverigekontakt, in support of our annual weekend camp coming up at the end of May 2014. Sverigekontakt also sent us a bag with children’s books, which is a very welcome refreshment of our library.
  • We are also looking into other grants and funding that we can apply for.

 

 

Parent Discussion Evening: How to Support Your Child in Learning Swedish

A few weeks ago we hosted our inaugural evening aimed at discussing issues and inspiring each other on the challenging task of teaching your kids Swedish abroad. We had some wine, nibbled on cheese and sent the kids into the playroom with any English-speaking parents. In the next while I will post a series of blogs on a few reflections from the evening, combined with other experiences and knowledge. I am writing these blogs in English because I feel that teaching your kids Swedish abroad is a family decision. I also believe that most of our English-speaking parents want to be supportive, even if they do not have enough time or commitment to learn Swedish themselves.

These blogs will include information about Swedish TV and Apps, the importance of role models and community, thoughts on attitudes and approaches that work, as well as stories of children who refuse to speak and then picked it up as adults, children who refuse to speak even though they live with two Swedish-speaking parents and children’s experiences when visiting Sweden for the first time. I hope you will enjoy them!