SD 10 gets top honours

SD 10 is one of top four districts with a 90 per cent graduation rate in aboriginal students

School District 10 has been named as being one of the top four districts in regard to completion rates of aboriginal students.

The district has a 90 per cent completion rate and is among the top districts in the province.

“I think we pay attention to our kids’ needs,” said Heather Dennill, director of learning for aboriginal students in SD 10. “Wehave many support mechanisms to assist.”

Some of these support mechanisms include a homework club along with Aboriginal Education Support teachers. The district has three such teachers, one at Nakusp Elementary School, one at Nakusp Secondary School, and a third at Lucerne ElementarySecondary School in New Denver.

Dennill said it has been the focus of the ministry for a number of years to improve achievement for aboriginal learners. Shebelieves that focus is paying off, but says she can only speak to what’s working well in this district.

“I think it’s our passionate and skilled teachers that really pay attention to the needs of all of our learners,” she said. “Thesupport systems that we put in place, our elders are very active with out learners and working with us as a school district toensure that we’re culturally sensitive and paying attention to the needs of out aboriginal learners in particular.”

To help matters, a new Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreement is in the works, with a draft of it already completed. It’san agreement with the Ministry on how the district is going to approach education with aboriginal students, as well as gatherdata on achievement and set directions for what’s working for the students.

It will be signed at the National Aboriginal Day ceremony for the district, which takes place on June 21, but the district isalready working under its framework right now.

This framework includes expanding, based on community consultations. The district held a series of consultations last year inregard to what they are getting right, and what they are to look at changing.

“One of the suggestions that came out of our community consultations, as well as our council was that we broaden thedefinition of achievement, that achievement can be in any of the four directions on the medicine wheel, and all are valuable. said Dennill.

These directions are physical, spiritual, emotional, and mental. The mental goal is the school achievement, and how are thestudents doing in their courses. The district monitors these achievements very carefully and offer interventions that would behelpful to the students.

Dennill says while the district may be small, especially compared to districts like Vancouver or Surrey, being such a small sizehas its advantages.

“We really can personalize for individual students, and track individual students in a way that a district like Vancouver orSurrey would be more challenged to do.”