I. General Information

School Name: Harwin Elementary

School District: SD#57 Prince George

Inquiry Team Members: Kristen Helfrich: khelfrich@sd57.bc.ca
Linda Picton: lpicton@sd57.bc.ca
Monique Engert: mengert@sd57.bc.ca
Cliff Waldie: cwaldie@sd57.bc.ca
Conrad Turner: cturner@sd57.bc.ca
Kelsey McWhinnie: kmcwhinnie@sd57.bc.ca
Sid Jawanda: sjawanda@sd57.bc.ca
Dylan Clifford: dclifford@sd57.bc.ca
Dennie Hicks: dhicks@sd57.bc.ca

Inquiry Team Contact Email: khelfrich@sd57.bc.ca

II. Inquiry Project Information

Type of Inquiry: NOIIE Transitions Study

Grade Levels Addressed Through Inquiry: Intermediate (4-7), Secondary (8-12)

Curricular Areas Addressed: Not applicable

Focus Addressed: Transitions

In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? For the students to make connections and build relationships with the adults in their school, in order to foster academic success.

III. Spirals of Inquiry Details

Scanning: Last year, our goal was to obtain baseline data based on the following two questions: Can you name two adults in this school who believe you will be a success in life? How do you know? This year, we implemented the same interview to see if there was progress. What we realized is that this work is guiding our practice as we recognize that relationships bring academic and social and emotional success. From this data, we were able to implement strategies to promote a sense of connection to their school and the adults. This was done through making sure our students’ basic needs were met, daily check-ins, leadership activities, small group connections, after school clubs and opportunities for playful inquiry.

Students are the core participants of our goal. The survey data offers a springboard to create activities and programs that promote collaborative learning. Meaningful interactions where students feel a sense of place to their school explore who they are in their school space, and have opportunities to build reciprocal relationships with the adults in the building.

Focus: Reflecting upon last year’s journey, the Duchess Park Family of School Indigenous students had the lowest grad rate in the district, and the question was why? What can we do to increase the success of our students? This year, we have a more cohesive, collaborative and better understanding of the focus of the work. This year, our Family of Schools worked on bridging the gap on the transition process between elementary school to high school. As a collective, we have been creating concrete and authentic processes to move towards an equitable system in our individual schools. To continue the journey, we thought focusing on building connections and relationships with the adults in our feeder high school, and experiencing events and activities in the space, would be a benefit for the fall.

Equity of Access – examining processes and practices to ensure inclusivity.
Unconscious Bias – awareness and self-reflection, environmental scans of our buildings.
Relational Leadership – how can we as Administrators provide positive and authentic opportunities for staff and students to make a shift?

New Professional Learning:
Book Study:

  • Don’t Blame the Lettuce: Insights to Help You Grow as a Leader and Nurture Your Workplace Culture by Eric Stutzman, Wendy Loewen, Randy Grieser
  • Wayi Wah! Indigenous Pedagogies: An Act for Reconciliation and Anti-Racist Education by Jo Chrona

Taking Action: There is a need to bridge the gap between elementary and secondary schooling. Through collective and consistent reflection, we as administrators are identifying that the students who leave grade seven and go into grade eight are still children who need guidance and transitional support. There is no magical epiphany that will occur allowing our students to fully understand the jump between elementary and secondary in terms of expectations and the delivery of academics. Along with student input, we currently are in the implementation stage and created processes where there is a connectedness between the two levels of education. We are looking to transform the traditional cycle, taking the uncomfortableness of change and making it comfortable for all parties involved.

A year in a glance:

  • Begin transition to high school as early as October
  • Sport invitations
  • Drama presentations
  • School tours
  • Leadership students to visit the schools
  • Teachers to visit the elementary schools
  • Day in the life of a high schooler – 2 visits
  • Flight of the Seventh Grader – BBQ at the high school
  • End of summer camp

Checking: The data collected in the first year was our baseline and jumping off point. The data indicates an increase in connection and relationship building, and belief that the student can be successful. The big increase is how the students can explain how they know the adults believe they can be successful. As we mentioned earlier, relationships bring academic and social and emotional success, so we continued with the first two questions.


  • A total of 261 students participated – 209 students responded positively – 80%
  • Out of the 261 students, 109 Indigenous students participated – 86 responded in the affirmative – 79 %


  • A total of 348 students participated – 322 students responded positively – 93%
  • 13% increase from last year
  • Out of the 348 students – 106 Indigenous students participated – 101 responded yes – 95.2%
  • 16.2% increase from last year

When you walk into our buildings, you can visibly see the connections and the relationships. Happy kids, happy communities equals positive outcomes.


  • We are operationalizing good intent.
  • This work is guiding our practice.
  • Creating a transition plan from transactional to transformational processes.
  • What is the understanding of the grade seven and eight teachers in relation to what they are doing for transitions and building relationships? What would they like to see happen and how do we as Administrators foster the learning to make this shift?
  • Why is it that we don’t have 100% of students feeling like they can be successful, with all the adults and supports we have in our buildings? How do we reach the last 7 %?