In a presentation that inspired, at times, teary eyes and laughter, School District 48 revealed some additions to its education plan.
While the core values of SD48's education plan will remain the same and use the medicine wheel, educators applied what they learned from a neuroscience workshop. Essentially, the presentation said, meaningful learning requires involving emotion and motivation. New focuses also include inclusion as a right, teaching to diversity and personalization.
The development of a platform for digital portfolios has been added. At www.sd48achievement.org, students can mark their accomplishments and meaningful experiences with multimedia elements such as videos, art and photos.
Susan Leslie, the Aboriginal Education director, pointed out the portfolios could be used to apply for postsecondary and jobs.
A Whistler Secondary Student who was previously homeschooled said at the presentation to the school board that they were able to create songs, film and poetry to help fellow students showcase learning outside the box. Using a metaphor, they described how if students were all the same, as pieces of a puzzle, they would never work together. Different edges — backgrounds, cultures, experiences, knowledge — are necessary to create the whole.
The My Action Plan (MAP) focuses on learning, wellness and personal responsibility. In students' Capstone in Grade 12, they can also learn to create their own websites or continue to use the template.
Since the 2012 education plan went into play, suspension rates in the district have been dropping. The school district is also working on including student families in the schools more, to make them feel more welcome.
Quest student, Jesse Genereux, who did research for the district on Indigenous issues to consider in its plan, said he wanted to be clear why beyond these changes, there are reasons to continue to evolve the education plan.
"My people, my ancestors who stole these lands, had hope to kill the Indian in the child. Luckily, they failed and we are here today to right that wrong," he said. "Every day, children have woken up in our district and faced institutions which do not respect their and their peoples' way of being. The time is up on a school system which believes one size fits all. Inclusion as a right is an enduring understanding which reflects a commitment to recognizing every child and every people's right to self-determination. When we say that every child has the right to be included, though, we have to be clear about what it is they are to be included in. We ought not to be fooled by the language of inclusivity and fall back into a relationship of assimilation, hence the inclusion part two: teaching to genuine diversity."
After the presentations, a parent from a PAC in the district said for students to succeed, schools and teachers need proper resources and equipment. She also questioned the use of the term "spiritual" in an education plan for secular public schools.
Superintendent Lisa McCullough said spiritual is used to describe the medicine wheel, but students are not required to demonstrate spirituality.
Full disclosure: Jesse Genereux is editor Jennifer Thuncher's son, though she had no role in directing the content of nor writing of this story.