By Samantha Johnson
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Kirby Stensrud, principal at Jenner School, gave a presentation to the Prairie Rose Public Schools board at the April 18 meeting. Stensrud went to Jenner School as did her father before her and now she gets to work with her kids each day. With fewer than 30 students in a K-9 school and only three teachers, plus a secretary/librarian and an educational assistant, the school needs to be innovative.
The school created the Junior High Options Program – Prairie Rose Possibilities Project, which was piloted last year with an electrician coming from Medicine Hat to teach a module to the students.
“Previously our kids used to bus to Medicine Hat College for a couple of weeks,” said Stensrud. “It took the kids away from the school for the whole day and was costly. When Prairie Rose Possibilities came out, we took the opportunity to create our own things, which can be a challenge because we don’t have many staff, so teaching that was impossible.”
A module-based program was created that brings in as many instructors as the school can source. A dad of one of the students is a welder and they are transported to his shop for that module. Last year, the students made a firepit that was auctioned off for the school’s student union.
One of the teachers is a carpenter on the side and helps with the carpentry module. The school bought all the supplies and materials with Prairie Rose Possibility money and created their own, outdoor carpentry shop.
For this school year, the students created planter boxes. Additionally, modules in photography, stained glass, leatherworking and landscape painting have been completed with this year’s welding module next on the schedule.
Student feedback surveys from last year stated they never get to learn what they want to learn. The school took that and presented them with the learning exhibition task, giving students lots of freedom for their projects.
Some students are doing a how-to, such as a poster board on dummy roping. Other projects include science experiments, family lessons, sculpting, tornados and one student created an exhibition about spiders complete with three terrariums.
“They are very excited about it. I’m calling it Our Own Learning Exhibition where we were able to take the feedback and the voice and build the exhibition from that, giving the kids an opportunity. They love working on it and ask when they can work on it each day,” stated Stensrud.