Port Kells Elementary 23-24


Port Kells -

 "The Little School that Could and Does!"

We are a school with just under 100 students, and we are located in a rural community in the north east area of Surrey. A big part of our school is the connection to the Port Kells Community. Our student population is quite stable, and includes students from families who have had multi-generations of family members learn and work in our school.

All students at Port Kells are loved and treated as the people they are and deserve to be. Students are valued for their differences. Evidence of this is seen in how confident our students are, how respectful, caring and loving they are towards others in our school, but also guests as they enter our building. Part of our school community, students in K to 7 interact and play together daily. Our older students take on the role of leaders and role models to our younger learners, and our younger students love the "big" kids and look up to them.

The staff play an integral role in the lives of our students. Because of our small size, all staff get to truly know each of our students and take part in the students learning. At Port Kells our belief is that all of our students are our kids. We work together collaboratively to ensure that all of our students can reach their full potential and that we can foster a loving community where students feel safe to learn and want to take risks, make mistakes and explore. The forefront of our learning and planning is that "Learning takes patience and time and that learning requires exploration of one’s identity."

Our office is an extension of our students learning space. Throughout the day, we often have students popping by to say hello, take a break, or even work with Mrs. Stubbings, our Principal.  Ms. Norris is also a big part of our students day.  She welcomes and invites all students to our building each day with a cheery hello and good-morning and acknowledges each student by their names and ends their day in the same way with a "good-bye, have a good night and see you tomorrow."  

"I like being Ms. Stubbings Assistant Principal, she trusts me with special jobs and I love hanging out with her"

"I like when I work with Mrs Stubbings and tell her my stories.  She's my person and I miss her when I don't come to school."

"I like that Ms. Norris is nice and happy in the mornings.  I like her friendly smile"

"I like that Ms. Norris talks to me and has me help her when I wait for my bus - I like to make her things and we guess what time my bus will arrive."

At Port Kells, we have a dedicated Parent Group and PAC. Our PAC is another extension of our school community and are active partners with our students and our staff. Our PAC plan and coordinate special events (Pancake Breakfasts, Santa visits, family Events, Welcome Back Meet and Greet), coordinate Hot Lunch and Treat Days and support class field trips. Our students know the PAC members and enjoy seeing them around our school. A huge bonus of a small school is that our staff know our parent community as well as our students.

Our PAC Pancake Breakfast


At our Team meetings throughout the year we discussed and “Scanned" what we know about our learners. One recurring comment that emerged, was how lucky we were as a school to have the amazing kids we have. Observational and anecdotal evidence includes the following:

  • Our students are comfortable here; they treat our school like it is home
  • They are playful and joyful
  • They like coming to school
  • They  want to learn and engage in their learning
  • They try really hard - they want to do well
  • They are enthusiastic learners
  • They are kind and love one another
  • They look out for one another; they care about each other; everyone knows one another
  • All of our students have a strong social network around them
  • Many strong leaders
  • They will advocate for themselves, each other and many social justice issues around them
  • They are inclusive

Another recurring theme or comment that comes up is how our students play and interact with each other from Kindergarten to Grade 7. We do not need to separate our school zones or playground equipment, the older students will interact and teach younger students soccer, jump rope, etc. If our students see a peer sitting on their own or looking sad, they will ask them to join them. Does not matter that they are in their class or grade. The want to include each other; they want everyone to feel wanted.  Our intermediate students take on their role of big buddies very seriously and look out for our primary students. Our students with designations are also always included in play and learning activities with one another. We embrace the community and family feeling.

Student Voice:

"It's my favourite school because I've been here almost my whole life.  Because I have lots of friends and made good friends."

"I Like Port Kells because when I first moved to Port Kells this year I was different and everyone welcomed me and made me feel happy"

"I like being a leader and being part of leadership because I get to make a difference in my school and help the little kids."

"I liked being asked to join Leadership because I can do good things and I made new friends.  I like that we can help the community too, like the food bank."

"I Like that we made a Kindness Tree and filled it with ways that we can be kind, are kind and when we saw people doing kind things.  Kindness has to start with one person and then it grows."


For the past couple years our school team have been focusing on developing school-wide universal supports for Social Emotional Learning (SEL). We continue to see the impact of the pandemic on our learners and an increase in anxieties among many of our learners (both academically and socially). Our team continued to support our students with their Social Emotional needs, along with a greater sense of community, who we are as people and a whole school (our identities), but also looking at the supports needed to further help with the increase in anxiety we have seen in our students brought on by the pandemic. Upon even deeper reflection, we identified that Literacy, more specifically reading was an area that needed even greater focus.  A point that stood out for us with our students (from a survey completed in 2022) was that many did not enjoy reading, often avoided reading, avoided the library and were not engaged during in-class reading instruction.  This made us wonder if we increased a students engagement and enjoyment of reading, along with direct instruction, would we see an increase in ability.  

We examined this under different lenses:

  • Will the direct universal/school-wide teaching of SEL improve students social and emotional learning?
  • How can we build greater self-awareness, build independence and confidence in our learners?
  • Will a greater focus on SEL improve students literacy-skills (reading & Writing)?
  • How can we improve student enjoyment and engagement in reading?

Our Learning Cohort:

This fall our learning community has been focused on building community. We are exploring mentor texts to helps us develop a deeper understanding of ourselves, our community and the world. We are learning to read, listen and view through a ‘book, head and heart’ lens. We are developing the skills required to be responsive and responsible readers. As you continue to strengthen your reading strategy toolkit, you will continue to use personal connections and background knowledge to make deeper connections to text and to wonder and show curiosity about what you are reading. Our goal is to deepen our understanding of ourselves, our community and our world through reading to become critical thinkers…

…We have challenged our willingness to persevere, take risks, make mistakes, work together, and take ownership of our behaviour and learning.

Our Emotional Literacy Charter

Our Emotional Literacy Charter has been co-created by our learning community. This is our voice, these are our ideas. We are so proud of the community we are building.

How do we want to feel as a community of Learners?

  • Happy, included, loved, supported
  • like we belong
  • like we are seen/visible
  • like we matter
  • that we are heard and our voices matter

What can we do to support these feelings?

We/I can ....

  • make people feel welcomed and included
  • make people feel valued
  • support and encourage others/my peers
  • feel empathy
  • consider the feelings of others
  • be a good listener/learn to be a good listener
  • let others have the opportunity to have their voices heard
  • understand and accept that everybody, including myself, makes mistakes
  • understand that we all learn differently and at different times ("Learning takes patience and time")

Reading Focus

We have identified literacy, particularly reading, as one of our school goals.  In order for us to determine if our Social Emotional skills were helping with our students literacy skills we collected data on reading at the start of the school year and again at the end of the school year through our school wide assessment.  We also used data from a short survey done in our learning commons in 2022 regarding student enjoyment and engagement in reading (Do you like to read?  what types of things do you like to read?  We again did this survey at the end of 2023 to see if our students had shifted their views.  

Reading Goals:

  • Reading Fluently at Grade level (K-7)
  • Engage actively as listeners, viewers, and readers, as appropriate, to develop understanding of self, identity and community (K-3)
  • Access information and ideas from a variety of sources and from prior knowledge to build understanding 
  • Respond to text in personal, creative and critical ways (grades 4-7)

We know that being able to read and comprehend a variety of different texts  are essential to a child's learning and academic success.  In order to nurture this, reading strategies were explicitly taught in class (whole group, small group, and one-to-one) and students had the opportunity to practise reading daily.  Students participated in a variety of learning experiences in which strategies were introduced to guide the students to make connections to literacy by connecting reading, songs, poetry to their own experiences, other text and media and the world around them. As a staff we looked at the best ways to improve our reading goals with a purpose (to increase reading levels)  but with an emphasis on enjoyment and engagement.  With this in mind we shifted our teaching in our Learning Commons with the support of our Librarian, Ms. Thiessen who brought her own enjoyment and love of reading, books and learning to our students.  She created a space where students wanted to be, she re-organized our library in a more student friendly way to find books, and she asked the students what types of books they wanted (she gave them a voice with materials). Within our classrooms we found ways to incorporate picture books at all grade levels, bring in project-based learning in regards to materials read to show understanding, literacy centres for our primary learners with a focus on phonics skills, pre-reading/-writing skills, and story workshop.     We also focused on teaching reading skills through drama and theatre through Drama Workshops, Readers Theatre, and our School Wide Musical Performance, "Kid Flix"  in June 2024.

"I like that Ms. Thiessen reads us books and we get to create after.  I liked the Polar Express book and village"

"Ms. Thiessen bought so many new books for our library and our library looks good.  It is easier to find books now."

"I like that I can spell more words this year.  I like doing my word work with a partner."

"I like when Ms. Moore helps with my reading.  She says I'm doing good!"

"I don't like to read because it is hard.  But I am getting better because I have lots of teachers who help me."


We have found that focusing on our SEL skills and with direct teaching we have seen improvements in our literacy skills, abilities and engagement.  With finding new ways to improve student enjoyment and engagement, we also saw an improvement in the students wanting to read and as well,  taking more risks in their reading.  We also saw an improvement in students confidence levels with reading and other key areas.  

  • We are seeing a positive impact academically
  • We are seeing students take risks in their learning; they are not giving up
  • We are seeing student improvement and an increase in levels
  • Students are eager to share their learning and adventures with all staff and one another (Classrooms, Office, Principal, other Teachers, EA’s, family).
    • “I can read harder books now because I’m not afraid to try”
    • “I love listening to picture books and talking about what we read”
    • “I like that my teacher calls me a reader and writer!”
    • “I want to learn to read and write for Ms. Mangat because she believes in me!”
      • "She told me she was proud of me because I don't give up."
    • "I like how Ms. Khan tells me I can do it and she helps me and need gives up on me!"
    • “My teacher told us we learn differently and it's ok”. “It’s still sometimes hard for me, but I keep trying!"
    • "I love going to the library - we have so many books I didn't even know we had.  Ms. Thiessen helps me find books I'll enjoy and be able to read"
    • Ms. Ewen helps me pick put just right books from the book carts.  I like to read easy books and hard books.  
  • Students are wanting to share their work (reading, writing, visual arts, etc.) with others in our building
  • Students are demonstrating more empathy and compassion for others around them
    • Students are advocating for selves and others when needed
    • Supporting one another in times of needs
    • Older students are helping younger students
    • Our students are demonstrating a more open mind to others perspectives
  • Students are working together more collaboratively in all areas
  • Students are more open to work outside of their peer groups and learn to work with others

Moving Forward:

Based on our observations, conversations and results, we will stay the course, SEL is still the main area of need in our school, and it does take time to build and develop the skills necessary in our students. Our students requiring additional SEL support will be supported by ‘wrap-around’ support from Classroom Teacher, Counsellor, CYCW, Learning Support Team -LST/IST, IESW's and Principal.

In the areas of Literacy, we strongly believe in supporting our vulnerable and early learners so they can be successful throughout their schooling. To do this we will continue to re-focus our In-class teaching and Intensive Learning Support for all of our learners.  For the upcoming school year we will focus on early intervention with our Kindergarten and grade 1 learners who have been identified as struggling in the area of reading through ELPATS,  and Reading Assessments. For our older students, we will be focusing on in-class support as well as intensive learning support when needed.  We will continue to find ways to increase enjoyment and engagement in the areas of literacy, but also in all areas of learning.    

Students will continue:

  • To receive direct SEL teaching/Instruction
  • To Learn and understand who they are as individuals and as well as school members as a whole.
  • To learn about self-esteem and positive/Healthy relationships and how it impacts self and others.
  • To reflect on their learning through Core Competencies and Self-reflections.
  • To receive direct reading instruction in-class and through intensive supports when needed

As a school Team we will:

  • Model SEL Skills and Strategies
  • Model positive and healthy relationships
    • We will also be working with  Our District teams, Safe Schools, our counsellor and admin to further support this area for our older students.
    • We will be bringing in District Presentations
    • Direct Teachings and Instruction.
  • We will directly teach SEL skills and strategies
  • Will continue to meet regularly to discuss our students progress and assess students and place our most vulnerable or struggling learners based on ability groups for intensive support (these groupings will be fluid in nature)
  • We will continue to review the data from ELPATS, FSA’s and our Reading Assessments to adjust our teaching, but to also determine small group interventions
  • We will continue to use Fountas and Pinnell as our school-wide reading assessment and intensive small group support
  • We will use a The Wilson Reading Program for identified learners requiring a more intensive support in the area of Reading.
  • We will continue to use the following guidelines/criteria to provide feedback for our students in both the Core and Curricular Competencies and to show students how each are connected. We will continue to emphasize the importance and value of student self-assessment and self-reflections for one’s own growth.

BC's Redesigned Curriculum, Core Competencies, & Student Self-Reflections |  Star of the Sea School | Surrey, British Columbia

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Direct Evidence:

This year our focus was on improving student reading levels.  This was done with direct and consistent teaching of  phonics, spelling skills (word work),  listening to reading, reading to self,  reading with peers, and one-to one reading with the teacher.  It is demonstrated through the evidence provided by our cohort of students and reflected in the larger group of our students, that our reading focus is positively impacting our learners.  Growth in our students reading comprehension was determined by the number of reading levels our students went up using our school wide reading assessments from September to June. 

Reading Levels Increases

Stayed the same

Increased 1 – 3 levels

Increased  4 or more levels

September - June




 In our daily teachings across the curriculum, but specifically SEL and Reading  we will continue to focus on the First Peoples Principles of Learning.  While we understand that the principles identified below are meant as a wholistic focus, we have selected three key areas that we believe have been directly taught to our students in the past year:

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Our staff want the best for all of our learners and use the results of our assessments, but also through our reflections on the year and our students progress to ask ourselves:  What did our students learn?  What can they do?  Where do I/we need to go in my/our teaching?  How can I further adjust my teaching and learning to better support my students?  

We are excited to continue our goals next year to see our students excitement, enjoyment, and confidence build even further as they develop the skills necessary to be readers and active learners.

Surrey Schools

Formed in 1906, the Surrey School District currently has the largest student enrolment in British Columbia and is one of the few growing districts in the province. It is governed by a publicly elected board of seven trustees.

The district serves the cities of Surrey and White Rock and the rural area of Barnston Island.

Surrey Schools
14033 - 92 Avenue Surrey,
British Columbia V3V 0B7