By Jeremy Appel
Southern Alberta Newspapers
Big things are coming this year for the Prairie Rose School Division, says superintendent Roger Clarke, who’s beginning his second year on the job.
The board has two major priorities for the next three years — literacy and deeper learning.
Clarke said these broad priorities are valuable because they fit all grades and subject matter.
“Both of those concepts of literacy and deeper learning can be applied to all of the grade levels, all schools, all teachers and for that matter all students,” he said.
“They fit whether you’re teaching science or language arts.”
The board decided on these priorities after an in-depth consultation process with PRSD staff, with administrators putting together recommended goals for the board of trustees’ approval.
“Looking at what our data was saying, in terms of what our students were doing or not doing, as well as what our stakeholders are saying, in terms of their opinions, you put both of those together and begin to flesh out what’s so deeply important to our organization,” said Clarke.
A major challenge with a rural schoolboard like PRSD is the significant geographic distance between each school and other learning opportunities, like field trips.
But this challenge also serves as a unique opportunity for rural students.
“Capitalizing on what’s in your local rural area is important,” Clarke said.
He cited several examples from PRSD schools, such as the recent Jenner Cemetery refurbishment by students from Jenner and Schuler Schools.
“Of course, the gravesite was right there, so the notion of doing the research (of) who that person was and connecting with their families, taking care of that gravesite and bringing it up to a standard where you can remember the history of the area, is (an) important learning opportunity,” said Clarke.
In the coming year, PRSD is setting up a physical store right down the road from its Dunmore office as part of its new entrepreneurial program.
“That entrepreneurial program is going to have its own real store that the students are going to be building business plans for, naming and obviously working on what that business plan may look like in terms of determining what products can be in that store,” he said.
The district will have as many as five schools participating in the program —all four high schools plus Irvine School.
Each of these schools has its own industrial education shop, where students will be physically making the products that are sold on the store’s shelves, the proceeds of which will return to the schools.
“It’s not about making money, but any money that is garnered from the selling of products will go back out to the schools to buy new equipment and those sorts of things,” said Clarke.