Our Schools: It takes a community

When families, community groups, businesses and schools unite to support learning, young people achieve more in school, stay in school longer and value their learning experiences more.

School District No. 48 is enthusiastic about the importance of parent and community partnerships and is always seeking opportunities to enhance them.

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Great examples of school and community partnerships are happening all over the school district. “We are not just a community school in name but also in action,” explained Spring Creek Community School Principal, Stuart Bent, in his description of the myriad ways in which students, staff, parents and friends at Spring Creek have been focusing on creating community connections within their school.

Highlights of their December included a Writing Day where primary students invited family members to come to their class to help them write letters to friends and family who live far away. As well, a highlight was the holiday market organized by the school PAC.

“Our students did a little holiday shopping and a little gift-wrapping all in the name of charity. The students bought for their families and all proceeds supported Whistler Community Services Society,” explained principal Bent.

The Whistler Question: Our Schools column has been an important tool for students to communicate their learning with their community. This past fall, primary students at Signal Hill Elementary were able to use this column to share their learning about being Bear Aware as they campaigned to initiate positive change in their local environment.

Other important community partners in this project were local experts, including Dawn Johnson from Stewardship Pemberton and Jolene Patrick from Coast to Cascades Grizzly Bear Initiative, who gave of their time to come into Kathy Leverton’s K/1 class to teach them more about bears and being Bear Aware. These students were also grateful that local politicians and staff from the Village of Pemberton willingly received their letters about this important topic.

In November 2017 community members showed their care by participating in Whistler Secondary’s Mental Health Week. As Vice Principal Clare Hanbury noted, “One of the highlights of that week was a visit by Dr. Katherine Martinez from Anxiety BC with support from Communities that Care and the Whistler Health Care Foundation. Working with different grade groups, Dr. Martinez helped our students to understand anxiety and to start building a toolbox for managing it.”

These are among many critical community services and partners supporting our students’ academic, physical and emotional health.
At the Board of Education meeting held Dec. 13, 2017 superintendent Lisa McCullough presented rapidly improving data on district six-year school completion rates. “Our resident student graduation rates are exceptional, currently reaching over 93 per cent, and this includes out migration factors such as students moving to another province. Our local Aboriginal students are graduating at a significantly higher rate than Aboriginal students in other areas of the province with an all-time high of more than 86 per cent graduating in June 2017,” superintendent McCullough shared with the Whistler Question in an article last week called “Looking ahead to 2018.” “This is one indicator that highlights our students’ commitment to their role, the strengthening of local Aboriginal communities, and the support to learning truth and focusing on reconciliation from the community at large.”

Superintendent McCullough emphasized the importance of community wellness and involvement. “Our local Aboriginal communities support our schools and student learning in many ways. Elders help us all to learn and our achievement results help to demonstrate this.” She highlights community relationships within our schools as critical, noting that students and teachers look for real-world projects to take on, and are always seeking ways to enhance and increase these opportunities across the corridor.

As the new year begins, School District No. 48 (Sea to Sky) would like to thank our families, local citizens, community partners and local media for supporting outstanding learning in our schools and wish everyone a Happy New Year. We look forward to continuing these important relationships and welcome any community member, organization, or business to connect with us and see how you can also become involved in supporting student learning.

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