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Jun 02

Chris Smeaton

Creating Pathways to Success

The following article was written by me and published in the Lethbridge Herald on May 29, 2013. Although written from a Holy Spirit perspective, the article highlights the importance of creating multiple pathways for high school students.

During this past year, my fellow superintendents and I have written about the changing face of education. Certainly the world of the classroom is in a major stage of transformation. This was evident during Education Week when some major shifts in policy were announced by Alberta Education.

A major focus of the government is in the redesign of high school and responding to the question of, “What does success look like for a high school student?” This question, posed to our Council of School Council Chairs and Student Advisory Committee, yielded an overwhelming desire for more opportunities for students to be further engaged in their own learning and a need to create multiple pathways to successful post secondary transition or directly into the world of work. Holy Spirit has taken this input and created many additional learning opportunities for students.

The high school flexibility project is an example of this redesign process. Catholic Central High School was part of this project when it began and students have reaped the benefits of having more flexibility in their learning and increased opportunity to link many cross-curricular outcomes without mandated time frames. This provides excellent real life learning and acknowledges the importance of student choice. This coming year Holy Spirit is one of only seven school divisions in the province to be granted permission to offer flexibility projects in all of our three high schools, thus providing amazing opportunities to our students.

We often say that every child is unique and every student learns differently and yet we plunk them into the same curriculum for the same amount of time in coursework. Trinity Learning Centre, located by Catholic Central High School, offers outreach programming that creates alternate pathways to success. The addition of teaching staff late this year and the extension of operating hours (now open Tuesday and Thursday evenings) offers students additional opportunities to meet their diverse schedules and learning styles. Trinity, with its drop-in format and self-paced options allows students to meet their own unique high school programming needs. 

Finally, schools need to address the growing needs in the area of trades. Southern Alberta has a requirement of nearly 2100 apprentices and schools only provide approximately 100 placements. The Registered Apprenticeship Program (RAP) is an apprenticeship program for senior high school students 15 years of age or older. RAP students are both full-time students and registered apprentices, and must be actively working toward the completion of senior high school. Beginning in the fall, this program will be a high priority for the Board as they continue to create multiple pathways to success.

Holy Spirit recognizes the importance of creating multiple pathways for students to ensure they remain in school and transition effectively into post-secondary or directly into the world of work. The redesign being implemented by Alberta Education is exciting and should serve our students and community well in the future.

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