Every Child Matters: Orange Shirt Day & The Secret Path – powerful tributes to the First Peoples of Canada

 

On October 22, 1966 near Kenora, Ontario, Chanie Wenjack died when he walking home to the family he was taken from over 400 miles away. Fifty years later, Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie has taken Wenjack’s story and turned it into the Secret Path project, including a solo album, a graphic novel and an animated film.

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Community Mentorship – a root of VCS – a poem

Mentors

(after 3 years … a reflection)

 

Like the fishes and loaves

We began with a few

Only a few

Eager though

And interested

Desiring to connect

Loving youth

Loving too their passions

science, writing, Chinese medicine, the inner world of emotions, music, yoga

And we didn’t have space

And we often forgot

That what they were offering was a gift

That what they were seeking was a relationship

And we often forgot

That they didn’t know how to handle disrespect

That they were unsure of how to handle hormonal rambunctiousness

Still Lisa found abundance in the few fishes & pieces of bread

Still more

Eager

And interested

Desiring to connect

Loving youth

Loving too their passions

Technology, city planning, the natural world, art, creativity

Upon reflection

Three years later

I remember the Red Carpet Evening

The faces

The joy

The medals and

The thank you’s

From voices rarely heard

Words spoken

Of gratitude

Of purpose

The criticality of mentors

From a few fishes & loaves …

 

NeW bLoG !

Click here for our NeW bLoG all about designing learning plans at VCS:  

http://www.vcslearningplandesign.wordpress.com

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Here is an excerpt from this NeW bLoG: 

Nel Noddings, an educational scholar from Stanford University, has provided ample nourishment for the cultivation of Vernon Community School (along with many others).  She reminds us of the basic human need of care, and its substantial impact on the rest of our lives.  This is particularly true for developing humans who are vulnerable to educational demands that trigger a variety of defenses.  For growth to happen – for the seed to open, for risks to be taken, to bounce back after mistakes – care is critical.

To live caringly in the educational ecology of VCS, students are given the opportunity to design & then redesign (repeat) their unique learning plans (and a formal Learning Plan each fall) – looking towards graduation and beyond.  We recognize like John Dewey, however, that education is not preparation for life – but education is life itself.  This blog,then, will contain the resources students require to discern and determine their unique pathways over time – beginning in grade 7.

Some specifics:

There are core courses which all students at VCS receive for their participation and engagement in a variety of experiences (incorporating all aspects of the BC Curriculum), as well as learning and growth as a result.  This is documented through “Examinations of Learning” (fall, winter & spring), as well as teacher initiated documentation of learning on Fresh Grade.  Additional course credits can be given for students who document their work and learning from mentors and community partnerships on Fresh Grade (both inside of and outside of school).

For most students – ages 12-15 – the core courses are english, math, social studies, science, health & career, p.e., and electives (mentor work and community partnerships).

For most students – ages 15-19 – credits for a variety of courses are given to students throughout these “grad study years” – english, math, social studies, and science are core with electives (academic & vocational mentorships/college courses/online learning, etc.) chosen by students based upon interests and passions.  80 credits are required to receive a “Dogwood” certificate – the credentialing required for all post-secondary studies.

VCS is committed to co-creating programs which lead to “Dogwood” graduation for all students.  Students may remain at VCS until they are 19 (without cost) in order to achieve this.  Students may also achieve these requirements and leave school early with their “Dogwood.”  These decisions will be made through conversations with students, parents, teachers, and mentors, and documented in personalized Learning Plans (developed or reviewed each fall).

This Week @ VCS (September 26, 2016)

Well, it seems our days are becoming more rhythmic.  We notice that as the community becomes more familiar to and with each other, powerful questions, provocations, and learnings emerge.   Because at VCS we take up the evidence-based belief that “Learning happens in the context of relationship” (Neufeld, 2016), the focus of our days has been on relating in different ways to different people through different content with different facilitators representing different ways of being in the world.  Yes, it’s complex, layered, and at times messy, yet this process is establishing the soil in which students will grow this year.  It’s a critical and sensitive time as students come to know themselves, their teacher/facilitators/mentors, and others better.  Trust will take root, and through this trust, students will be more able to “take chances, make mistakes, and get messy.”  Vulnerability or the opening up to the new, different, and sometimes scary, is the beginning of growth – It is the birthplace of  innovation, creativity and change (Brown, 2014).

Some Details:


Thanks to Bowen for taking up the making of a trailer for “Science” … stay tuned for loud explosions !

Monday – Today we had our choice of physical activity, worked at polishing our Bee Provocations (presentations begin tomorrow), and enjoyed exploring our passions &/or are struggling to find a passion.  A teacher candidate, Ross, from UBCO came to volunteer and see what VCS is all about.  He will be returning for more next week !  Thank you to Shae for doing such a wonderful job of publicly thanking Ross at the end of the day.

Tuesday – We have “CC Studies” (science, reading, writing, numeracy) in the morning and some of us will be helping to move the handmade Okanagan canoe from the Fulton cafeteria to a trailer, while others will be carrying it from the trailer to the shoreline at Kin Beach.  We are honoured to be asked by Lori Phillip to be a part of this ceremony that has been over 10 years in the making.  The “why should I care about pollinators ?” group will be presenting their discoveries to the VCS community.

Wednesday – Doug will return and support his Bee group in presenting their finished bee boxes.  He will also be offering strength and conditioning, as well as another game of “rugger”.  Mentor Andrea Clarke will be joining her small group studying “art and emotions”.

Thursday – Mentor Bryan Wilson will be joining his tech group as they begin the awesome adventure of building computers !  Another Bee Provocation group will present their discoveries to the VCS community.

Friday – “Orange Shirt Day” – our day will be infused with teachings from the experience of surviving/enduring Residential Schools by the First Peoples of Canada.  Each student will also be writing a reflective assessment on what was learned about bees and pollination through our first provocation of the year.

Finally,
I will be placing the magazine order tomorrow. 

Please double check that my list is complete.
I’ll assume it is correct unless I hear otherwise by tomorrow evening.

Milliken-Heape – 4
Hutchinson – 1
August – 2
Mullin – 3
Stark – 1
Harned – 1
Byles – 1
Mitchell – 3
Poitras – 4

New Films about VCS – telling our story

Many thanks to Kamar Burke and Lisa Neilsen for their astonishing storytelling.  Gratitude as well to the Innovation Partnership of B.C. and Dr. Leyton Schnellert at U.B.C.O. for funding these ventures.

“Who are we ?” – by Kamar Burke #student perspective #hip hop #gritty #honest

password – kb

“Rewriting the Traditional Grammar of Schooling” – by Lisa Neilsen #student teacher professor voices #big picture #thorough

password – vcs

Every Child, Every Chance, Every Day – Joe Roger’s blog

November 10, 2014

Welcome to the first installment of Every Child, Every Chance, Every Day. This blog will share the story of learning in SD#22 from the perspectives of all partner groups as we learn and grow together. Our district’s motto, “A Great Place to Learn”, epitomizes the wonderfully rich learning opportunities we offer our students. Our district goal of a 100% success rate for all our students, guides our work. We are, first and foremost, in the people business and recognize the importance of developing and fostering positive relationships throughout the system to provide quality educational programs and services. Daily activities, fine arts, personal interactions, and the process of learning are not always statistically measurable. This includes learning democratic values, socialization skills, problem solving, sharing, embracing diversity and change. These areas are vital to the development of our students as we help prepare them for an ever changing, unknown future.

To embrace diversity and improve engagement, the district continues to build on the excellent work of classroom teachers and schools by offering enhanced student supports and new programs. We are currently working on building an Aboriginal Enhancement Agreement. Our committee chairs, Jami Tonasket and Colleen Larson, are meeting with our Aboriginal learners and parents in every school to listen to their experiences and share their  wishes for the future. We have partnered with the Okanagan Indian Band, the Friendship Center and the Métis Society to co-create a plan by April 2015.

Over the last few years we have also significantly expanded our innovative programs to foster deeper learning and encourage students to pursue their passions. The offerings include:

  • Okangan Language classes
  • EarthQuest
  • RCMP Youth Academy
  • Increased Advanced Placement Courses
  • Hockey Academy
  • Students Without Boarders
  • Soccer Academy
  • Aboriginal Entrepreneurship
  • Forestry
  • High Performers program
  • Montessori grades 1-6
  • Early and Late French Immersion
  • increase Career Education choices
  • Distributed Learning
  • Baseball Academy
  • Snowsports Academy
  • Vernon Community School.

Vernon Community School started this September and is a mindful place of teaching and learning rooted in social justice. The district has partnered with Leyton Schnellert and Margaret Macintyre Latta from UBCO. The purpose of their study is to document teaching/learning conditions and supports that foster educators’ and students’ capacities to create and sustain genuine learning contexts rooted in social justice and attentive to community resources.

Parents are keenly interested in sharing their personal talents as noted in the following parent blog post:

Mentoring at Vernon Community School

The Mentor Program at the Vernon Community School is proving to be rewarding and enriching for all involved. So far, our children have been exposed to a long time martial arts expert who is delving into building character, self-esteem and inner and outer strength, a VCS parent who is sharing her love of the art of knitting, another who is offering knowledge about managing Social Media, a local Actor who is sharing confidence-building techniques along with his craft, a Photographer who herself became interested in her art at 12 years old and loves to teach it to kids, an Acupuncturist who is enlightening the class with information about Traditional Chinese Medicine, A Chiropractor and Pharmacist with ideas of bringing science to VCS in many ways, a talented musician and maker who leads our kids in a weekly community jam session, a movement and dance teacher who also teaches the kids about working with fabric and a Family Doctor who showed the class how to apply a cast and spoke about her path. Kim and Murray have also welcomed many mentors to our space including a basketball expert. They can expand on the people they are working with to share their talents and passions with our community.

Contact has also been made with the artist responsible for the murals on downtown Vernon buildings and a mural tour and lesson on becoming a muralist is in the works. We have Web Development experts, a Coder, an Animator, a Naturopath, a Family Counsellor, an Illustrator, a world traveler, a Gardener, a Voice-over Artist, a Science Teacher, a Massage Therapist and a Financial Advisor all planning visits to the school soon.

The students have expressed interest in the following additional vocations: Woodworking, Cooking, Architecture, Gaming, Hang-Gliding, Construction, Math and Child Care. I am continuing to gather people with these skills for the kids, but am eager to hear from as many people as possible regarding contacts they may have. If there is anyone in your lives with a passion, hobby or skill they’d be willing to share, igniting passion within the kids, please let me know. I will take all the help I can get.

Please also consider you or someone you know becoming a Reading mentor. So far, a couple of wonderful women have attended the class along with their pre- school aged, or home-schooled kids. This is turning out to be a gift for everyone involved. If you know of someone who can serve as an enthusiastic and supportive listener for an hour a week, feel free to contact me so we can add it to the weekly schedule. Thank you.  Lisa Dumas VCS Parent

We are happy to share our learning journey and look forward to your feedback.

In the next post, I will share the progress of our SnowSports Academy. I know the students are looking forward to the opening of Silver Star Mountain after the significant amount dry land training.

JoeRogersWEB

Mentoring at Vernon Community School

The Mentor Program at the Vernon Community School is proving to be rewarding and enriching for all involved. So far, our children have been exposed to a long time martial arts expert who is delving into building character, self-esteem and inner and outer strength, a VCS parent who is sharing her love of the art of knitting, another who is offering knowledge about managing Social Media, a local Actor who is sharing confidence-building techniques along with his craft, a Photographer who herself became interested in her art at 12 years old and loves to teach it to kids, an Acupuncturist who is enlightening the class with information about Traditional Chinese Medicine, A Chiropractor and Pharmacist with ideas of bringing science to VCS in many ways, a talented musician and maker who leads our kids in a weekly community jam session, a movement and dance teacher who also teaches the kids about working with fabric and a Family Doctor who showed the class how to apply a cast and spoke about her path. Kim and Murray have also welcomed many mentors to our space including a basketball expert. They can expand on the people they are working with to share their talents and passions with our community.

Contact has also been made with the artist responsible for the murals on downtown Vernon buildings and a mural tour and lesson on becoming a muralist is in the works. We have Web Development experts, a Coder, an Animator, a Naturopath, a Family Counsellor, an Illustrator, a world traveler, a Gardener, a Voice-over Artist, a Science Teacher, a Massage Therapist and a Financial Advisor all planning visits to the school soon.

The students have expressed interest in the following additional vocations: Woodworking, Cooking, Architecture, Gaming, Hang-Gliding, Construction, Math and Child Care. I am continuing to gather people with these skills for the kids, but am eager to hear from as many people as possible regarding contacts they may have. If there is anyone in your lives with a passion, hobby or skill they’d be willing to share, igniting passion within the kids, please let me know. I will take all the help I can get.

Please also consider you or someone you know becoming a Reading mentor. So far, a couple of wonderful women have attended the class along with their pre- school aged, or home-schooled kids. This is turning out to be a gift for everyone involved. If you know of someone who can serve as an enthusiastic and supportive listener for an hour a week, feel free to contact me so we can add it to the weekly schedule. Thank you.

My contact information- Lisa Dumas – cell- call/text- 250-540-7280

Email- yogajoywithlisa@gmail.com

Orange Shirt Day – next Tuesday

We are looking for ways to make this come alive & root deeply in the childrens’ hearts.  Want to help us ?

Orange Shirt Day 2014 Info Sheet

orangeshirtposter14

“I went to the Mission for one year. I had just turned 6 years old. We never had very much money, and there was no welfare, but somehow my granny managed to buy me a new outfit to go to the Mission School in. I remember going to Robinson’s store and picking out a shiny orange shirt. It had eyelets and lace, and I felt so pretty in that shirt and excited to be going to school! Of course, when I got to the Mission, they stripped me, and took away my clothes, including the orange shirt. I never saw it again, except on other kids. I didn’t understand why they wouldn’t give it back to me, it was mine! Since then the colour orange has always reminded me of that and how my feelings didn’t matter, how no one cared and how I felt like I was worth nothing.

I finally get it, that the feeling of worthlessness and insignificance, ingrained in me from my first day at the mission, affected the way I lived my life for many years. Even now, when I know nothing could be further from the truth, I still sometimes feel that I don’t matter. Even with all the work I’ve done!

I am honoured to be able to tell my story so that others may benefit and understand, and maybe other survivors will feel comfortable enough to share their stories. I want my orange shirt back!”

The voice of Phyllis (Jack) Webstad, Dog Creek, BC