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Almadina students are from all over the world, including Canada, Pakistan, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, Egypt, Saudi Arabic, India, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Turkey, Albania, Englahd, Bengali, Kurdistan, Chechineya, Algeria, Palestine, Italy, Venzula, Morocco, Chad, Tunisia, United States, Libya, and Brazil.
Part of the registration package requires that each parent provide the original documents for a Canadian birth certificate or immigration papers and an Alberta Health Care Card. These documents are checked, verified and reported through the Student Information System. Please visit the Registration & Fees section for further information.
ALCA does not charge tuition since it is funded like any other public school. At Almadina, all students receive a basic set of supplies at the start of their school year. Parents are then responsible if supplies are lost or damaged. Almadina asks parents to pay a bus fee if they choose to use our bus service and fees for field trips (other than bus cost) approved by the parent. If parents opt out of field trip opportunities, the student remains in a class and does regular work. Sport association fees are subsidized by the school campus. However, supplemental weekend language classes may be offered at a fee covering supervision or treats. Like field trips, these services that may be available from time to time are strictly voluntary and must be approved by the parent.
The ALCA School Council is made up of council members and interested parents who meet with the principal to plan activities or offer advice to school or board members. At these council meetings, an ad hoc or permanent committee of the Almadina board may meet in the school or be invited for a presentation. The ALCA School Council Chair is invited to submit items to the board agenda and to offer advice or share concerns at a duly convened board meeting. Almadina follows the regulations set for Alberta’s School Councils and even participated in the recent review of Alberta School Council regulations. Essentially, school councils may:
Almadina is a public school of parental choice that is granted a specific charter by the Minister of Education. Almadina and 12 sister charter schools are autonomous, non-profit public schools designed to provide innovative or enhanced education programs that improve the acquisition of student skills, attitudes and knowledge in some measurable way. Charter schools have characteristics that set them apart from other public schools in meeting the needs of a particular group of students through a specific program or teaching/learning approach while following Alberta Education's Program of Studies. The Charter School Handbook outlines the procedures for establishing a Charter school should you and a group of parents have an innovative idea on how to improve student achievements and innovations in education. Currently the Alberta government is committed to allowing a total of 15 public charter schools. Please visit the Charter Mandate of our website for more information on Charter schools in Alberta.
Every charter school is obligated to deliver the Alberta Programs of Study as set out in the School Act and regulations so that a student can transfer in and out of any school in Alberta from ECS to Grade 12.
How is a charter school different from a traditional public school, public school with a religious affiliation or a private religious school?
As a public charter school, ALCA funding is subject to the same reporting obligations as that of any other Alberta public schools. Charter schools, unlike religiously based schools, whether private or public, may not be affiliated with a religious faith or denomination. Charter schools are not private religious schools nor are they intended to replace the services offered by private religious schools. Like any other public school, charter schools such as Almadina may provide general religious instruction and exercises, as may any other public school. Specifically, at Almadina, students may pray at designated areas during non-instructional time such as lunch or recess. As part of our commitment to diversity in shared values, all religions are treated with the outmost respect during school discussions related to the Alberta curriculum. Almadina’s character education with its Citizen: Values/Virtue initiative is based on seven virtues/values as found in Michelle Borba’s “Building Moral Intelligence.” As Albertans, Canadians and knowledable global-citizens, our students have shown empathy to all victims of disaster through a myriad of fund-raising such as donations to homeless shelters at Calgary.
How does a charter board account for public funds and ensure that it follows the School Act regulations?
Every year, and at times selected by the government, school funds are audited and the Superintendent and Secretary-treasurer must ensure that funds are committed and spent as set out in the funding framework. The auditor issues an audit management letter that identifies any major issues. The audit is available at both the charter school and government website. The charter board members are elected volunteers who may not be paid but are reimbursed for travel and other expenses related to meetings as they carry out their duties. The auditor ensures that funding commitments related to the board and its delivery of services are tied to annually approved budget and educational delivery of services as per school priorities, board motions and approved staffing. Please visit the ALCA Board Documents for detailed information on ALCA financial statements.
The single most important challenge facing your son or daughter is to learn English. You can help your child learn English by ensuring that homework assignments are completed. Almadina has a mandatory homework policy. Parents need to seek out opportunities outside of school hours to engage in listening, speaking, reading and writing English:
Are charter school teachers and instructors as qualified as other teachers and staff in different school boards?
ALCA teachers and administrators are contracted with the Alberta Teachers’ Association. The superintendent ensures that all our teachers have an Alberta approved teacher’s interim or permanent certificate. Under the provisions of the School Act, in the event that a qualified teacher cannot be placed to teach a heritage language, a language instructor will be hired and supervised by a certified teacher as well as the principal.
Briefly, the Board members are accountable to parents, students, the public and the Minister of Education who needs evidence that the members are making policies and providing general leadership in ensuring that all statutes and regulations are followed. The Board members work through their Chief Executive Officer, the Superintendent, who ensures that both the interests and policies of the Board as well as those of the Minister are implemented. The school campus administrators run the daily operation of the school and ensure that the Alberta Programs of Study is delivered consistent with the Charter and School Act regulations. Unlike the trustees of a public board who can delegate hiring and firing to superintendents, charter boards may directly hire and fire. Hiring and other board commitments such as contracts and leases, should be no longer than a time span or term limit set by the charter as granted by the Minister.
Since the Minister of Education reviews or grants charters on a five-year basis, all charters may be terminated at the will of the government. However, there are several considerations for terminating a charter school:
Why does the Almadina School Society board not hold elections at the same time as all the regular public school boards, such as during a Municipal election?
As part of their application to the Minister of Education, Almadina parents and other charter school parents had to form a Society. The Society must meet the conditions of the Society’s Act and create a mechanism for a charter board that governs the school. In other words, the Almadina School Society (6021) Directors operates Almadina Language Charter Academy as granted by the Minister. The By-Laws of the Society state that seven board members, all parents, must be elected every three years. At renewal of the charter or at other times, the Society must petition the Minister if it seeks changes.
No Alberta charter school can deny your child access if there is sufficient space, resources available and your child is eligible to be a student, as defined in the School Act. However each school informs parents that its charter emphasis and innovations cater to certain students. For example at ALCA, our focus is on innovative ways to help students from homes in which English is a second or third language to reach their full potential. Our central goal is English language acquisition and therefore, we offer parents a choice of a second language from K to 9 as part of an overall options course initiative. Thus our focus is language acquisition through a specific learning by design and language learning delivery system. Almadina is not equipped to deal with severe or other types of special needs students.
You have a right to appeal to the Minister or to the local Zone 5 Education Manager any decision made by Almadina to provide or deny any educational services.
Members of the public, parents, staff and/or media may attend a board meeting and sit at a designated place reserved for the public. As per policy, these members may listen but not speak unless invited by the board’s Executive Secretary to be put on the agenda. The approved ALCA Board minutes are posted on our website and conform to current FOIP and PIPA privacy standards.
Learning English is a long, convoluted process. Each child learns at a different pace. The process is influenced by level of first language proficiency, age on arrival in Canada, educational background, personality and learning style factors. Children generally acquire conversational fluency, or basic interpersonal communication skills (BICS) in about 2 years. It takes 5 to 7 years for children to develop the cognitive level of academic language proficiency (CALP) to succeed with learning tasks associated with academic work. Many specialized academic words have Greek and Roman roots. These academic words are also challenging for native Canadian students.
Remember that everything your child knows in the first language will transfer to the process of learning in English. Your first language is an enormous resource!
First language development helps in second language development. First language development can play a major role in the development of a second language such as English. Older students with full or mature first language proficiency have a greater automatic linguistic and academic bank to draw on when transferring between language(s). According to Jim Cummins research of the “dual threshold”, academic abilities in one language are transferable to another. Therefore a student with advanced math skills in one language will have an easier time learning math in another language. However, since most of the Almadina curriculum is delivered in English, the home must play a major role in first or heritage language development and retention. As set out in the Alberta International Languages Guide, our public charter school may offer a maximum of 100 hours of the International Languages option.
As a student begins to acquire a second language, a language “iceberg” of daily words emerges above the “water line”. The student initially struggles with the surface features of the second language (e.g. pronunciation, common greetings, acquiring the first 2500 words), but underneath the iceberg, there is a common underlying proficiency factor (CUP). The human brain is hard at work trying to make “order” out of “disorder”. It uses this common underlying proficiency, thought by linguists to be “hard-wired” in the human genetic makeup, to transfer and translate all that is already developed in the first language (L1) to efficiently learn the second language (L2).
A. Students with a weak first language proficiency and English dominant second language students with a weak first language proficiency have fewer resources from which to draw when learning a second language. English must become their dominant language for communication, thought and for completing academic work at school. Keeping both languages growing puts an enormous pressure on the student. They must develop new ideas and thoughts in the new L2 language that is still not fully under control. A L2 student requires a great deal of differentiated teaching and learning approaches. Teachers who are aware of a student's first language proficiency level can help the student deal with stress and challenges of acquiring a second language. First language teachers have to work closely with the regular sheltered classroom teachers. At Almadina the L1 and L2 teachers use the same planning and teaching tools. They are encouraged to work collaboratively and use common tools such as graphic organizers and visual aids.
Students of different ages learn in different ways. Younger students under the age of 8, though still needing structured support to learn L2, seem to acquire the pronunciation and patterns of daily grammar naturally. They achieve basic interpersonal communication skills (BICS) seemingly effortlessly through play, television, and active engagement with the language through meaningful learning tasks that are designed for the specific goals of acquiring BICS. Students of this age have little usable first language proficiency that they can transfer into academic studies. Beyond the BICS level, these students often find L2 development to be a struggle. Their parents are often confounded by this plateau effect because the children speaks well and appear to be fluent in English, though only at a conversational level. These students require on-going support and more time to develop L2. Remember that the academic words for a subject are specialized and prove challenging for the native speaker. Older students between ages 8 to 11, have just enough L1 proficiency useful to transfer to the task of acquiring literacy in the second language. These students also have time on their side. With proper support, the majority of these students should acquire sufficient English language proficiency to be successful with academic work at school. Their first language often falls behind over the years. They maintain enough L1 for conversational and family discourse purposes, and socializing with first language friends.
For younger students, English tends to take over as the dominant language for daily thought and academic work at school. Many of these students need to maintain at least conversational proficiency in the first language in order to communicate with the older generation of caregivers (e.g. grandparents), or even their parents, who many not acquire English language proficiency in Canada. For many of these children, a certain level of L1 proficiency is central to their socio-cultural identity within their ethnic community. Almadina offers a nurturing environment for maintaining conversational L1 skills informally, and also through its International Languages option. However, full bilingualism is not the goal for these students. Should parents desire their students to develop literacy skills in their first language at the same time they are acquiring literacy in English, they can register their youngsters in Saturday school or summer language camp. ALCA is not a bilingual school.
Absolutely. The danger for many young L2 learners is incomplete language development in both languages, or what may be thought of as impoverished bilingualism. Many of these children struggle at school, especially in grades 4 to 6 where there is a greater emphasis on content learning, and language acquisition is assumed. They tend to fall farther and farther behind. They are often found in special education classes and non-academic programs. They tend to experience failure and will likely "dropout" of school.