Education briefs: Yk1

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Mildred Hall School expanding parking lot

This summer, Mildred Hall School will be getting a much needed improvement to the parking and drop-off zones outside of the school.

Tram Do, director of corporate services for Yellowknife Education District No. 1, told school trustees at Tuesday’s board meeting the 53-year-old school was not built to handle a large parking lot.

Konge Construction has been tasked with revamping the parking lot.

The plan is to move the playground in and create a double-lane drop-off zone on the south side of Mildred Hall, in addition to a gravel parking lot in the back of the school property for parents dropping their children off at school.

Yk1 will be working with the City of Yellowknife to co-ordinate traffic flow and inform residents in the area of construction plans.

“We are looking forward to this much needed improvement and are planning to proceed with the changes this summer,” said Do.

William McDonald getting new roof

Plans are moving ahead to rebuild the roof of William McDonald Middle School after it was found to be leaking.

The design for the roof has been awarded to Taylor Architect Group and the design process will be from July 3 until July 9. The project will then go out to tender from July 10 to July 30, then potentially awarded Aug. 1. Construction will be from mid-August until the end of October.

“We did express concerns about the roof not being completed while school begins,” said Tram Do, director of corporate services for Yellowknife Education District No. 1.

“We were told that they would do their best to move that contract up. When the roof goes out to tender and the contract is awarded, there is a substantial time line where the supplies have to be ordered by the Trustees expressed concern about the feasibility of getting the project done before the dead of winter.

“When you rip down a wall that was built 20 or 30 years ago, you’re not sure what’s behind that wall,” said trustee Terry Brookes, who suggested the construction should be pushed back another summer in case of unforeseen complications.

Do said she was assured contractors would be capable of working into the colder months, and said their concerns have been raised with the GNWT Department of Infrastructure and are waiting for a response.

Indigenizing education

With a new directive and handbook from the Department of Education, Culture and Employment (ECE) about Indigenizing education for high school students, Yk1 educators have been brainstorming on changing the district’s approach to teaching.

Scott Willoughby, an Indigenous language and culture-based education co-ordinator, said Sir John Franklin High School students and himself met with Angela James, director of Indigenous Languages and Education Secretariat, and went to Dettah to discuss ideas with community elders.

“There are quite a few outcomes we are working towards,” said Willoughby. “Language, community support and elders in school and these outcomes are directed from ECE.”

Willoughby said there have been high-level talks on developing school and district committees for educators to discuss the implementation in schools.

“This is not just about simple substitutions but a change in the philosophy of education,” Willoughby said.“We are living in the perfect place for this to happen.”

At the elementary school level, students have already been learning about Indigenous languages, participating in moose hide camps, learning from elders about plants for traditional medicines and practising canoeing.

Board trustee Al McDonald provided an example of how this would play out in a high school setting.

He said, for example, that instead of having a traditional debate team in social studies classes with two opposing sides, students would sit in a circle and go around sharing their ideas.

“It’s how people learn and where they learn,” McDonald said. “It’s going to take time for our teachers to learn that. Most of them are 20th century trained, even if they are 21st century trained, they’re trained in a traditional method that’s been around since the 1800s.”

Mining Matters workshops to expand

Due to the large success of mining and geology education through a partnership with the Mining Matters organization, Yk1 is looking to expand its series of workshops provided to students and teachers.

Currently the board offers workshops for Grade 4 and Grade 7 students, which will extend into high school courses.

“I met last fall with Mining Matters and some of our local mining leaders and they’re very excited about working with the school and moving the program into the high school,” said Ed Lippert, acting superintendent for Yk1.

Currently, there is no course developed specifically for mining and geology so Lippert said the board will be exploring that with partners and also the possibility of providing apprenticeship programs.

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