Comments from current staff at Demonstration schools:
"At Sagonaska staff are friendly and welcoming. We have very structured residence routines, but also incorporate into our residence program. We go on outings, riding bikes on campus, fishing, movies, sports teams, hikes etc. When new students come in they can be nervous and home sick...but staff pay close attention and help them cope and soon enough we become a family here. The kids feel comfortable and it ends up being the parents that are the ones feeling a little home sick from their child. One of my favourite memories at Sagonaska was being the underdogs at the most recent ball hockey tournament and we ended up winning first place!!!" ~ T.C., Student Support Counsellor
"One of my favourite parts about my job at Sagonaska are the days the kids are rewarded after working so hard the night before on a particular project! For instance, helping kids study the night before a spelling test-then hearing that they aced their test the next day! It shows them that hard work and determination, pays off! I had a student send me a text message on my day off just to tell me how excited she was that she passed, and how much she appreciated my help with her studying the night before!" ~ C.P. Student Support Counsellor
"I think my favourite part about my job is that I can watch the girls grow from when they first get to school, to when they leave. Watching someone who may be shy at first open up and come out of their shell is really rewarding. I get to build more of a relationship with each girl as they all have their individuals strengths and weaknesses, and we can learn to grow together. They teach me something new about myself, and in return I can help them.
As for activities, we always put music on in the mornings and now that the girls feel more more comfortable we can all sing and dance together. It's honestly the favourite part of my day. Watching someone who was so shy at first, be the first one to start the cha cha slide is such a great start to both my day and theirs.
I think residence is beneficial because it gives the girls more opportunity to socialize and communicate with others around them. The girls are able to relate to everyone, and by helping each other grow both in school and at residence they end up with life long friends." ~ E.C., Student Support Counsellor
"A common worry for most people is the fear and anxieties about having a child, (or being a child in residence). While these feelings are completely justified, my time as a counsellor at Sagonaska residence, has been one I will surely never forget. From home work to free time, these children are constantly learning new things, developing new skills and having fun while doing it! Some of the activities kids in the residence partake in are Swimming, gym games, sports ( we had children from our residence go to ball hockey, and swimming tournaments this year), as well as activities such as baking, fishing, snow boarding and skiing, guitar and piano lessons just to name a few! The great thing about a small campus like Sagonaska is we can tailor activities that meet the children’s needs and interests. Our boys this year got a special trip to a skate park as they love to scooter, and went go karting as two of our planned outings.
Residence is also a structured environment where children have the same daily routines so they know what to expect. Parents can also rest assure knowing that there are bed times in place to ensure children are getting adequate sleep, a variety of food options where children have healthy meals and even have nurses on sight for any illnesses or injuries. Children have the same consistent staff members in their residence that they build trusting relationships with, but also get to know and become close with other staff members that are on the campus as well. By the time June roles around children are excited about Sagonaska and don’t want to leave!" ~ M.N., Student Support Counsellor
"One of my favourite parts of being a residence counsellor is being able to share interests with the students. I like to share with the students interests and activities that I enjoy. I also like having them share their interests with me. I feel this is a great way for both the students and myself to expand our horizons and possibly discover a new activity that we enjoy. I like participating with the students as much as possible. If the students are playing sports outside or going swimming I like to join them. If they are watching youtube videos or playing video games I like to watch and play with them. Then I’ll talk to them or show them games or videos that I enjoy. This helps develop a strong relationship with the students and allows them to feel more comfortable approaching me if they need something. I look enjoying coming into work every day and being a part of these students lives." ~ JLR, Student Support Counsellor(up-night)
"September can sometimes be a bit difficult for new students attending Sagonaska. The idea of leaving their friends, family, pets and their home behind would be stressful for any individual; however, these students often adapt quite quickly to residential life. From day one, we as staff, help our students to cope with these feelings by building strong and meaningful relationships with both their parents, as well as with them. Open and continuous communication helps the child to feel safe and secure, as though they are living at a home away from home. I have often been referred to as “Mom #2” which demonstrates the solid foundation in which many of these relationships have been built.
I have worked in the Sr. Girl’s program for several years and during this time, homesickness has been a rarity. The girls thoroughly enjoy the comradery and connection that they have built with one another, as many of them in the past have been segregated and bullied; so many never even having had a friend before. They have a common connection upon their first meeting with one another; they create unforgettable memories throughout the school year and they build friendships that last a lifetime.
I recently received this from one of my previous students who asked me if she could use my name in a part of her religion assignment. I gladly accepted. This here is proof that homesickness is shortly lived and that lives are forever changed Sagonaska." ~ L.B., Student Support Counsellor
"What I love most about my job...
What I love most about my job is how rewarding I find it to be. It is an amazing experience to be able to see a student’s progress in residence throughout the year, and not just academically but socially as well. Watching the students grow from September through to June as they become more confident, independent and improve their social skills amongst their peers, is unlike any experience offered anywhere else and is by far the greatest aspect of my job.
What I enjoy about my job...
I enjoy getting to know the students and watching them grow and discover their true potential as they reach their goals. Having the opportunity to see how excited students are when they reach a certain reading level that they never would have thought was possible before coming to Sagonaska and watching lifelong friendships being formed between the students.
What is your favourite activity to do with the kids?
Teaching them how to make breakfast in the morning and how they become more confident in performing these tasks on their own.
Why you think residence is beneficial?
Residence is beneficial because students are given the chance to learn life skills that include cooking, organization and time management, and independence as well as social skills such as problem solving, socially acceptable behaviour and how to form positive relationships with others.
How to help with homesickness...
When assisting in dealing with home sickness I try and take the time to learn about each student individually so that they become comfortable enough with myself and other staff members and are able to express their feelings or concerns. Creating a safe, structured and consistent environment for students, that feels as close to home as possible is very important. Encouraging scheduled phone calls home and offering lots of reassurance and support to the child is just one of the many ways to help with homesickness. Overall, showing that you care and empathizing with what the child is experiencing is important and makes the world of difference." ~ K.C., Student Support Counsellor(up-night)
"Welcome to Sagonaska residence. During the first week in residence the students spend a lot of time getting to know their peers and their counsellors. We usually have lots of activities planned like swimming, playing games in the gym (my favourite is dodgeball on the first night) and letting the students just hangout inside and outside with their peers.
There is usually some homesickness and students want to call home which is not a problem, they can call whenever they like. From my experience it is usually parents who are missing their children more than the other way around. Parents are encouraged to call whenever they need too (hopefully before bedtime, the students need lots of sleep ????). Residence staff are happy to talk to parents and update them on what is going on or alleviate them if any concerns they may have (We don't hug your child good night though, that might be a bit weird and against our policy).
Don't worry about your child being left alone there are staff in the residence all night. There are staff that stay up all night in every residence. They are more than willing to sit with and talk with your child if the need arises in the middle of the night.
Some of the staff run Twitter accounts for the residence so you can see what is happening and get pictures of your child enjoying themselves." ~ M.W., Student Support Counsellor
"I enjoy coming to work at Sagonaska each day to work with the students in residence. It’s nice to get to know each student on an individual basis. We usually have weekly meetings with the students and discuss some of their interests so we can plan outings for the school year. We also have several opportunities for the students to join social activities such as ball hockey, volleyball, swim team and baseball. Over the years, I have had the opportunity to coach many of sports teams. Being a part of a team gives the students an opportunity to develop and strengthen their leadership skills, self-confidence, and social skills. A lot of our students have never had the opportunity to be a part of a team. It is amazing to see a child feel accepted for the first time and make life long friends."
J.C., Student Support Counsellor