On Thursday, January 24, I joined the René Deleurme Centre (RDC) community of schools (Lavallee School, Victor H. L. Wyatt School and Victor Mager School) and their community partners for their annual report to the community. Darcy Cormack, Principal of Lavallee School and RDC, Irene Nordheim, Assistant Superintendent, and Kate Sjoberg, Community Resource Worker for RDC facilitated the evening presentation and consultation.
The Lavallee, Victor Mager, and Victor H. L. Wyatt school communities have come together over the last two years to reimagine RDC using a whole community approach to answer the question: How can we support improved educational outcomes for the children we serve? Darcy Cormack provided a brief overview of the work over the last two years:
- Visiting local schools and resource centres that are experiencing success.
- Connecting with Jim Silver, Professor and Chair of Urban and Inner-City Studies, University of Winnipeg (Professor Silver joined us on Thursday).
- Facilitating School Community Sharing Circles–nine sharing circles of parents and caregivers.
- Conducting an audit of community agencies and interviews with 12 groups.
- Facilitating Teacher and Support Staff sharing circles in each of the three schools.
- Creating a Community Forum to review the recommendations of the research project.
Kate Sjoberg spoke of the challenges raised by parents and others in the community:
- High levels of complex poverty and associated issues, inter-generational trauma caused by colonialism and residential schools.
- Significant numbers of newcomers in the three neighborhoods with barriers to employment, participation in community life, and difficulties with financial and social stability.
And, she spoke about the assets identified by parents and the community:
- A diversity of supportive community organizations with longevity and strength.
- The support that all three schools provide to amazing and resilient students and families.
- Community Liaison Workers and Family Outreach Worker.
- Access to Family Centres.
- Culturally diverse communities and schools.
Darcy spoke to RDC's mandate being shaped by the community. RDC's guiding principles are to:
- Build on existing strengths in the community.
- Work together in a cooperative and coordinated manner to create opportunities for people to become engaged.
- Respond to parents' expressed needs.
Darcy and Assistant Superintendent Irene Nordheim then invited guests from the community to share the many projects that are underway as a result of the community-based research and engagement.
- She also spoke about the very successful Canada Learning Bond event that had families in the community invest $138,000 in the future education of their children!
- Alexandra Simanavicius from the Boys and Girls Club shared details of the new evening and weekend programing they provide in RDC to children in the community. I think it's been 15 years since the last club was established in Winnipeg. This new club receives its funding from the LRSD School Board.
- Joan Embleton from EDGE Skills Centre Inc. shared all that this important not-for-profit organization that has been providing in the form of English language, adult education and career services to Winnipeg and St. Vital for over 25 years.
- Irene spoke about a Parent Mentor Program launched this past fall in LRSD that offers parents at all three schools an opportunity to mentor with teachers in the classroom, developing their skills while building stronger connections within the school community. Two mothers shared powerful stories of their experiences with the program.
- She also spoke about hospitality training for parents provided through our International Student Program.
- Jordan Falconer, Principal at Victor H. L. Wyatt School, shared information about eye care events at Victor H. L. Wyatt and Lavallee Schools.
Irene ended the evening with a passionate presentation about two projects in development: Bonnie Ash, Executive Director at Morrow Avenue Child Care Programs for Families, joined Irene to share her passion and the latest news about the potential Abecedarian Childcare Centre
at RDC and an expansion of the Sistema Winnipeg
Throughout the presentations, Darcy, Kate and Irene provided opportunities for dialogue, and community members engaged in an exchange of ideas. One memorable exchange was with a cohort of public health nurses that will result in a connection of these professionals with LRSD's 12 school-based Family Centres
. (The centres offer free programming to parents and their young children).
All the amazing progress we've seen over a short period of time in RDC's community of schools is the result of a community-based effort supported by LRSD's locally-elected School Board.
I want to acknowledge and thank the LRSD School Board for listening to the needs of its community and finding ways to financially support efforts to address high levels of complex poverty and growing numbers of newcomers in three of its neighborhood schools in LRSD as part of a holistic community response to the question: How can we support improved educational outcomes for the children we serve?
As the Province of Manitoba begins its one-year review of the kindergarten to grade 12 education system
, I encourage community members to participate in the coming consultations and share the great work happening at these three schools, and other schools in LRSD. -Christian Michalik, Superintendent