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A community of possible careers
Deninu School and workers partner for career and technology program

Kassina Ryder
Northern News Services
Published Saturday, February 8, 2014

A new program at Deninu School in Fort Resolution is partnering with community businesses and workers to teach students about career options first-hand.

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Desiree Mandeville practices her hairstyling skills during hairdressing class at Deninu School in Fort Resolution. The school is partnering with local businesses and tradespeople to offer students a variety of Career and Technology Studies courses. - photo courtesy of Tori Lafferty

Known simply by students as “electives,” principal Kate Powell said the program consists of various Career and Technology Studies courses, which are offered to students in grades 8 to 12.

At the beginning of the school year, students chose their classes that rotate on a schedule. Day one includes cooking class, outdoor education, robotics, computer programming, sewing and welding. Day two also includes welding, as well as physical education class, hairdressing, childcare, photography and shop.

Welding class is held at a building rented by the school and is offered twice, Powell said.

“We’re lucky enough to have a welder in town who is very passionate about passing on his teachings and so we have him both days,” Powell said.

Li’l Darlin’ Daycare and other community businesses are participating in the program, which are being run with the help of five community instructors.

Powell said the hands-on courses, such as childcare and welding, allow students to get out into the hamlet and learn directly from business operators and professional tradespeople.

“When you’ve got lots of different people coming in and interacting with the students, it kind of brings the community in and, in some cases, takes our students out into the community,” Powell said. “A trend in education at the moment is really connecting school and community, making strong links.”

For Grade 8 student Braiden Lafferty, that link could lead to a possible career option.

Welding is his favourite class this year and while he’s not ready to make too many decisions about his future just yet, Lafferty said welding is now on his list of possible occupations.

“Most classes I don’t really have interest in,” he said. “Welding, it’s fun and I hope to get somewhere with it.”

So far, Lafferty said his class has learned the basics, such as the various joints used to join metals, and is now working on making signs for school bus stops throughout the community.

Powell said linking students with people who enjoy their jobs is a great way to engage students. She said cooking and computer programming are two of the most popular courses so far.

“One of our high school teachers runs it and he’s really into computers and he’s passionate about it,” she said. “As soon as a teacher is passionate about it I think it’s contagious.”

Powell said it’s difficult to offer students a variety of CTS courses in a small school, but by partnering with the community, Deninu School has been able to give students different classes to choose from.

She said being able to choose not only inspires students to do well, it also keeps them coming to class.

“They’re able to choose what they want to do and it helps so much with their motivation and I think it’s helped with attendance,” she said.

Grade 9 student Tanis Lafferty said taking cooking class is helping her sharpen her skills doing something she already loves. Learning baking techniques and being able to try new recipes at home has made the class Tanis’ favourite.

“I do it a lot at home for my family,” she said.

Tanis also took childcare and photography and said taking pictures has become a new hobby.

“I usually try to take pictures of the sun shining,” she said.

Skills Canada is providing funding for the programs and the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs is providing funds to pay instructors, Powell said.

Powell said staff are hoping to expand the program and provide a drivers’ education course.

“I don’t know how we’re going to do it yet, but I understand there are at least ways of doing the written part and the theory piece,” she said. “It’s something we’re looking into.”

Ceramic-making is another possible class, Powell said. There is a kiln at the school that hasn’t been used in years and staff are hoping to find an instructor to teach basic ceramic-making skills for a week or so. A community instructor would then take over the class.

Powell said the program’s popularity means its meeting its goal of keeping students motivated and eager to learn.

“They’re really disappointed if ever we miss it,” she said. “If there is a special event or something, they really do get disappointed.”

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