Identity Day at Forest Green

This morning, I had the opportunity to visit George Couros (@gcouros) at Forest Green Elementary (where he is the Principal) in Stony Plain, AB.  It was a great morning to visit because they were doing their Identity Day, during which each student creates a demonstration of something that they love to do.  It was great to see the displays that the students created but it was even more fascinating to see the atmosphere and school culture which has been created at this school.  It was also great to watch George interact with students and staff…lots of laughs, smiles, high fives, and collaboration.  It is one thing to follow George on Twitter and on his blog but it is definitely inspiring to meet him in person and see him in action as a school leader.

From the moment that I walked through the front doors of the school, I could tell that Forest Green is a place which is student centred.  The first thing I saw was a huge school logo and several large pictures of kids…awesome!  As I walked around the building with George, I observed teachers and students working together and sharing.  We were even serenaded by one of the classes!

I made the comment when I was at the school that Identity Day is more than just a chance for kids to exhibit something that they love to do.  It is also an event that brings the school community together…not just the students and the staff, but also parents, grandparents, friends and alumni.  There was even a staff member dressed up as a member of the KISS army…that was part of his Identity Day project.  Yes, each staff member shared a project.

George and I had a chance to chat for a little while during my visit.  For this opportunity, I am extremely grateful.  During our conversation, George said a few things that stuck with me:

  • “As you get better at technology, you learn when NOT to use it.”  I halfway expected, given George’s reputation as a tech guru, that I would be seeing tons of flashy technology.  He told me about the school’s focus for the school year.  They were going to learn how to use Google apps and WordPress (for blogging).  This decision was driven by the need to facilitate and enhance student learning, which brings me to my next bullet.
  • “Technology decisions must be driven by the need to enhance student learning.”  We chatted for a while about Sharepoint and other web tools and software.  George’s ultimate question was always, “How does it improve learning?”
  • Being a school leader is like being a coach or captain of a team.  If everyone gets better, the team gets better.  If you do what you can to build people up, the team will get better.  It all comes down to building relationships.  I could definitely see evidence of some awesome relationships at Forest Green.

I am extremely appreciative and grateful for the invitation to spend some time with the staff and students of Forest Green Elementary.  Thank you to the hospitality that you showed me while I was there…no one treated me like an outsider and I met tons of great people.


About Derek Hatch
Principal in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

One Response to Identity Day at Forest Green

  1. Hey Derek!

    Thanks for the kind words about myself and our school. I have been lucky enough to see my students, staff, and community do some amazing things in the past two years, and I am so proud to share it with others. If you didn’t notice, the kids love visitors 🙂

    Good luck in your new position next year and I am glad we had the chance to connect in person!

    Take care,

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