By SHELLEY SIM
Trustee, School District 73
“Partnership is not a posture but a process – a continuous process that grows stronger each year as we devote ourselves to common tasks.”— John F. Kennedy
SUCCESS WITHIN the education system is dependent on creating strong partnerships. There are many reasons why a school district such as ours would want to seek partnerships to help with the task of educating our youth. Partnerships with others can help improve the educational experience for children both inside and outside of the classroom.
For SD73, we have incorporated the need for partnerships in our five-year strategic plan. Priority number five of our plan states that we will, “Strengthen partnerships to enrich the way we lead, learn and work.”
The priority is backed up by three goals, which ideally inspire and encourage our staff and team to practise effective collaboration at all levels which in turn build effective networks and engage community-based and job-embedded professional learning and training.
Supporting classrooms and the educational experience and creating better outcomes is the end game. To achieve these goals, SD 73 is continually working to find and implement partnerships with others. We have many working relationships with agencies of government, volunteer agencies, support groups, professional bodies, volunteer groups, institutions, businesses and individuals, to name a few.
For example, SD 73 has agreements with Thompson Rivers University that allow Grade 12s to take courses at the post-secondary school. Doing so gives our highest achievers a head-start on their university education. We work with TRU’s School of Trades to provide our students with a chance to explore possible career pathways in trades before they need to make a final commitment. Not only is this successful with our urban schools but our rural schools have also benefited from these opportunities.
We also have partnerships with community agencies such as the RCMP. School liaison officers are active in our schools and help teachers and principals educate students about any number of issues, from drug use and abuse to better ways to solve problems and disputes.
The district partners with the United Way every year to help raise funds for the charitable organization, knowing that the work it does so often helps our students. As well, SD 73 works to ensure connections with our rural communities are continually strengthened and included in planning and implementation.
The district also partners with groups and agencies to improve literacy in all our communities. Examples can be found in all SD 73 communities but likely one of the most popular initiatives is the READ WITH ME classes offered to early learners, as well as the Bright Red Book shelves and the Bright Red Book Bus which is immensely popular each summer.
We work with all the First Nations bands throughout our district to improve the educational experience for our Aboriginal learners, and Aboriginal completion rates are on the rise. We work with private business as well. The annual Heavy Metal Rocks program, for example, which provides students with access to industry professional high-end equipment, would not be possible but for partnerships with companies.
There are so many working partnerships between SD 73 and others in the community it is hard to quantify them all, but they are all important to the experience of our staff, students, and parents.
Education is truly enhanced when a collective energy is embraced and brings people together to expand the opportunities for our students. Together, we really are stronger and in this strength, our children will find their success and the support they need.
Shelley Sim is a first-term trustee on the Board of Education representing the rural communities of Clearwater, Area A and Area O. She can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.