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Teachers preparing for classes
Board hopes to build on prior strengths in new school year

Sarah Ladik
Northern News Services
Thursday, August 27, 2015

Students and staff are getting ready to head back to school.

NNSL photo/graphic

Dak de Kerckhove shows Brennan Sutton what the inside of a fish looks like at the Science Rendezvous event at East Three School in May. The Beaufort Delta Education Council wants to continue incorporating traditional knowledge and culture into all its curriculum. - NNSL file photo

"We've got our board-wide in-service starting on the 26th," said Chris Gilmour, supervisor of schools for the Beaufort Delta Education Council.

"The theme is Building On Our Strengths and the focus is to promote culture-based learning throughout all our curriculum."

The pre-school-year conference will bring together 150 people at East Three School to discuss strategies, best practices and common challenges.

Gilmour said there would be a total of 15 presenters at the two-day event and that the sessions will be tailored to the specific needs of educators in the region.

"Getting everyone together is really exciting for us," he said. "The realities of geography here mean that we don't get to all be together very often and it's beneficial to everyone when they can network and discuss."

At the top of the list in terms of ongoing concerns for all schools in the region is attendance.

Gilmour said each school will come up with a specific plan they feel will work best for their students, recognizing that there are different challenges in each community and that it's best they come up with their own solutions in consultation with

local groups and organizations.

"The more time kids spend in school, the better," he said. "Attendance is a challenge in all our communities."

While staff return to work Aug. 26, students will follow Sept. 1.

East Three principal Deborah Reid said she is excited to get back to work and see children getting back into a routine.

"We've been excitedly planning," she said. "We have a few new faces on staff."

Some of those new faces are coming in to help with the influx of children in the youngest grades. Reid said there are more than 60 kindergarten students this year. Otherwise, she said she hopes to see the school and community build on the work they did in the drama program last year.

Gilmour said that many of the problems faced by schools in the Beaufort Delta are shared by institutions across the country, but admitted that there are some extra challenges in the North.

"We do have a different context from the rest of Canada," he said. "The history of schooling in the North is something we have to acknowledge. We're always trying to make our curriculum and schools more appropriate to that context, like the idea of embedding language and history in our lessons."

To that end, Gilmour said he was pleased to see schools continuing to work with the Gwich'in Tribal Council and Inuvialuit Regional Corporation.

More than anything, he said he was proud to report a number of Northern hires, something the board has been aiming to increase.

"We want to see more aboriginal leaders in general," Gilmour said. "In our context, that's in the classroom, but you want to see that everywhere."

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