School District No. 46 (SD46) took some time on Nov. 3 to highlight and celebrate partnerships with community groups and organizations that provide enriched and specialized learning opportunities for students.
“Our strategic plan says that we want to celebrate our collaborative efforts and the things that our community does to support our school district,” said SD46 school board chair Betty Baxter at the Partners in Learning event at Chatelech Secondary School.
“So this is our first effort to begin to recognize the many, many partnerships.”
The event featured 15 displays from groups and organizations that partner with SD46, from the Early Years Council to the Sunshine Coast Museum and Archives.
“It’s our hope with feedback from you we can do this every year and get better at it and rotate through the many partnerships so you can learn who else is doing terrific things for the school district besides your own organization,” Baxter told those in attendance.
Six groups took the stage to highlight their specific partnership programs: Roberts Creek Community School, Capilano University, Sunshine Coast Community Services, Habitat for Humanity Sunshine Coast, Ruby Lake Lagoon Society and the Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Arts.
The community school spoke to its Roots of Empathy program, which matches a baby with a classroom for a year to help teach social-emotional learning to students. Through watching and relating to the baby, students can also relate to their own emotions and talk about them openly.
“In the school setting we often ask kids what they think, but in Roots of Empathy we go to what they feel,” said presenter Ursula Hardwick. “We do this through following the baby – how do you think the baby is feeling? The baby is magic in this program.”
Capilano University spoke to its culture and leadership program, which teaches Sechelt (shíshálh) Nation students traditional practices like salmon smoking and canning, allowing them to gain credits through learning their own culture. The program seeks to help students gain self-confidence and leadership skills.
Sunshine Coast Community Services highlighted its Mentors in Violence Prevention program that equips student leaders to deliver the violence prevention message in schools.
“Mentors in Violence Pre-vention helps students explore options for intervening in a safe and supportive way,” said Wayne Spychka.
Habitat for Humanity Sunshine Coast raved about its partnership with the school district’s ACE-IT carpentry program, which sees students get hands-on experience building homes for people on wait lists with Habitat.
The Ruby Lake Lagoon Society talked about its nature school program that’s seen more than 5,000 students come to the centre to learn during the past 10 years. The society also talked about its Wood Duck bus that’s able to transport students to Ruby Lake and its newest project – PODS, an ocean discovery centre that’s in the works.
And the Festival of the Written Arts spoke about its partnership with SD46 that allows authors-in-residence to visit classrooms and provides writing workshops and spoken word events for students. The partnership also results in a book of student writing every year called Coastal Voices.
Baxter said she was impressed with the number and quality of community partnerships on the Coast that benefit students in myriad ways.
“The work that’s being done is phenomenal and the scope of work is phenomenal,” Baxter said. “Instead of operating from a deficit in terms of what we can offer students, we really have a school district that goes over and above what we can offer for students because our community fills in the gaps, and that’s a never-ending process.”