Mountain View Matters


“Education Enriched through Culture” is our motto at Smith-Jackson Ukrainian Bilingual School.  What is culture? Dictionaries will generally define culture as the ways of life of a certain population or people that incorporates our language, heritage, art forms, etc., as well as what we believe in and strive for.  

At Smith-Jackson School we associate culture, almost immediately and intuitively, with our Ukrainian heritage and “all things Ukrainian.”  We are not only working on the acquisition of the Ukrainian language from Kindergarten through Grade 5, but we are also learning the story of our history, what brought us to this place and the “why” behind the practice of our unique Ukrainian traditions. But there are also other components of culture that we have been working on at SJS as well.   

It has been our mission at our school to work to create a culture of learning, within our bilingual setting, that provides quality education and is not focused only on academic learning, but also on social, emotional and moral learning - learning that encompasses the whole child.  We are doing this work though our actions which includes continually reinforcing and living out our big ideas of Respect, Responsibility, and Safety and Care, and we are beginning to adopt principles of the 7 Habits that include being proactive, beginning with the end in mind and putting first things first.  These were put into place purposefully to build a school culture that would be conducive to learning, fostering relationships and growing together.  The demonstration of these actions are teachable, reinforceable and expected from all students, staff, families and friends who enter into Smith-Jackson School.  It is our belief that students do not learn and teachers cannot teach without a culture that includes these ideologies.

Another component of culture that has become important to us at Smith-Jackson School is the belief in community and working together for the good of all.  Though we have focused on serving our school and the Dauphin community in various ways over the years, our work as a school this past nine months has solidified this. Extending our hearts, hands, and our resources as we attempt to help those displaced by the Russian invasion in Ukraine and doing our best as a school community to help our newcomer families feel safe and settled is a demonstration of our belief in community and a product of our actions.    Our SJS family community donated supplies for the Backpack4Hope program so that children arriving from Ukraine or neighboring countries could receive school supplies, hygiene items and fun activities.  Our students stepped up and out to invite new students to play and learned quickly how to cross the language barrier to start new friendships.  Staff took on the task of learning and delivering a new English as an Additional Language curriculum and continue to find creative ways to teach, communicate and build relationship with students and family from other countries.   These actions exemplify a culture of community. 

It is said that “culture is more than a feel-good word, it is good-inspired action.” (N. Lang-Baad) There is still cultural work to do at Smith-Jackson School but we are on the right track; good-inspired action is present and continues to be cultivated.