Wednesday, July 28, 2021
Community is built when people invest their time in organizations, and in each other. Near North District School Board (NNDSB) supports the building of school communities by giving staff and students the opportunity to share talents while developing leadership skills.
At West Ferris Intermediate and Secondary School, several opportunities exist for participation in mentorship and leadership, some of them for credit.
Principal Andy Gagné says having students reach out to support other students
means an approach in a different and more comfortable way, that is often well received. An example of this is the iCoach program in which students in the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) program work with and assist with technology in a class.
One of the many goals of the STEAM program is to help students master the 21st century competencies that will help them to successfully navigate the job market of the future. STEAM students become resilient, self-sufficient learners that can quickly adapt to changing situations using the skills that they have learned in the program.
West Ferris is an Apple Distinguished School, recognized for being a centre of leadership and educational excellence. Apple supports the school’s vision as students’ creativity, collaboration and critical thinking are inspired with Mac products. It has helped STEAM students with their understanding and knowledge of technology and their understanding of collaboration and mentoring through such initiatives as iCoach.
Grade 11 STEAM student Kennedy Kerr was an iCoach for a Grade 10 academic English class. Though COVID altered the way she interacted with the class, she was easily able to help the teacher and students in a virtual mode.
In a video she created, Kennedy says, during the octomester as an iCoach, “I am not able to work with the students and the teacher one-on-one. My knowledge from the STEAM program has allowed me to adapt to this unexpected curve in my education with only a few challenges.” Kennedy was able to present work to students and the teacher with iMovies, trailers and Keynotes “in a way that can be shared and presented via online classroom meetings.”
The iCoach position provides unique leadership opportunities for the student, peer support for students in the class, and educational technology assistance to the staff.
Gagné says other mentorship positions occur in the school; within the four self-contained personal life management classrooms (one intermediate class, three secondary school classes). These are mentorship opportunities for which students can earn a credit.
As COVID created the need for cohorts, student leaders were only able to help in one class. Post-COVID, students will be able to support several classes.
At West Ferris, there are also non-credit programs that give students the opportunity to provide leadership, including in academics, physical education and sports, where secondary students mentor younger students.
These are some of the many ways NNDSB works to develop good citizenship in its students.
For more information, please contact:
Near North District School Board
P. (705) 472-8170, extension 5010