HPSD success coaches continue to close the gap

Success coaches in High Prairie School Division with some of the trustees and administrators. Front left-right, are High Prairie Trustee Joyce Dvornek, Corinne Goulet, Supt. Laura Poloz, First Nations Metis Inuit (FNMI) co-ordinator Delores Cox, Shirley Whitehead, Dorothy J. Hunt, and board chair and High Prairie Trustee Tammy Henkel. Back left-right, are Slave Lake Trustee Tracy Ottenbreit, vice-chair and Slave Lake Trustee Joy McGregor, Tahza Cardinal, Carrie McGillivray, Lindsay Stewart, Joussard Kinuso Trustee Rudy Willier, West End Trustee Karin Scholl, West End Trustee Lynn Skrepnek, and Evan Dearden, assistant superintendent of curriculum.

Richard Froese
Success coaches in High Prairie School Division have lived up to their role to help Aboriginal students close the gap.

Achievements and plans moving forward were presented by a delegation to the school board at its regular meeting March 15, states a new release from HPSD.

“High Prairie School Division is proud of the work our success coaches are doing to close the achievement gap,” says Tammy Henkel, who chairs the board.

First Nations Metis Inuit (FNMI) program co-ordinator Delores Cox and several success coaches described how their work supports the four goals of the division’s FNMI Strategic Improvement Plan: Closing the Achievement Gap.

Those goals include:

-Community Engagement.
-Culturally Responsive Schooling.
-FNMI Curriculum Infusion.
-Accountability and Reporting.

“One of the ways Indigenous Community Engagement is happening in our schools is through the Kairos Blanket Exercise,” Cox says.

The KBE is an interactive way to learn the history most Canadians are never taught and has been offered about 12 times in the past six months at HPSD schools and neighbouring communities.

“The common feelings and reactions to the exercise include a strong emotional response to known historical events,” success coach Tahza Cardinal says.
“Some participants note that they were unaware of a number of the facts presented during the exercise.”

With respect to Indigenous Curriculum Infusion, several practices were identified.

The Teachings of the Seven Grandfathers are used to promote character development.

The seven teachings are wisdom, love, respect, bravery, honesty, humility, and truth.

The seven are a set of teachings on human conduct towards others; those teachings strongly support the HPSD code of conduct.

Another method of curriculum infusion is storytelling during literacy blocks.

Elders, knowledge keepers, success coaches, and community members are invited to share their knowledge with students.

Land-based learning activities such as nature walks, trapping, snaring, and ice-fishing are also implemented.

“These activities are giving our students the opportunity to experience, learn, and discover new personal limits,” success coach Dorothy J. Hunt says.
“They build strong leadership skills and improve confidence utilizing Indigenous knowledge, teachings, and learning about the interconnectivity of all things.”

Success coaches highlighted the numerous teaching resources that have been secured and/or developed for schools.

“These resources provide our schools with the ability to meet the Alberta Education guiding documents on First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Education,” success coach Carrie McGillivray says.

Goals identified in the division’s FNMI Strategic Improvement Plan: Closing the Achievement Gap guide the work done by the success coaches.

Their efforts support the success of all HPSD students. Currently, the number of students who self-identify as First Nation, Métis, or Inuit is about 40 per cent of the total student population. The initiative directly supports Alberta’s Expression of Reconciliation, the First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Policy Framework, and the Ministerial Order for Student Learning.

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