Breakout Sessions for the 2017 Symposium

Take No Risks: Southern Alberta Children's Advocacy Centre


Lonnie Slezina, Co-chair, SACAC and Pat Rivard, Co-chair, SACAC, Associate Superintendent, Palliser Regional Schools

Session will focus on partnerships that can support a healthy vibrant rural community.


Don’t Take Responsibility:  A Smooth Transition

Betty Turpin - Superintendent for Holy Family Catholic Regional Division, Laura Poloz - Superintendent for High Prairie School Division, and Gord Atkinson - Superintendent for Northlands School Division

When students are required to transfer to another district to complete their education, many challenges exist for the transitioning student. It was found that as students moved from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, documentation was frequently missing. Student dropout rates, high school completion rates, and academic, social, and emotional success was also of concern. This led to intentional discussions with community and education stakeholders to ensure students, parents/guardians, and community members feel that they are a part of whichever school system they decide to enter.
 This session will use a case study involving Northland School Division, Holy Family Catholic Regional Division and High Prairie School Division where a multi-district and community engagement project is underway to minimize the disruption for the student and may serve as a template for schools and districts.
 The Combined Jurisdictional Transition Project was initiated to review data and identify three common themes:
1.        The need for common writing prompts and collaborative assessment by all affected school jurisdictions.
2.       The need for land-based learning opportunities.
3.       The need to improve students’ sense of belonging. 
 To address these needs, the 3 jurisdictions successfully applied for a grant from the Alberta Healthy School Community Wellness Fund to facilitate professional learning for our educators. The result has been collaborative professional growth to address the needs of learners across all partner school divisions. Still in the early stages, the collaborative learning and implemented strategies to date are a step in the right direction to achieving a fluid adjustment to maximize student success.


Don’t Attract Business: The Magrath School Partnership

Ken Sommerfeldt, John Waterhouse, Wade Alston, Brenda Beck

Schools are built to last 40 plus years in Alberta, and in rural communities where there is not significant enrollment growth, the prospect of a new school, or an old one modernized is a BIG DEAL.  When the Magrath school modernization was announced, Westwind’s approach was to build both a school and a community.  Partners considering economic development, sustainable agriculture, assets for the school and community, an indoor playground, a theatre, a library and more, pushed this group to realize a plan that was several times greater than JUST building a school. 


Don’t Shop Elsewhere:  Careers in Rural Alberta


Heather Hanlon, Ag Education Program Coordinator, Luree Williamson CEO of AG for Life

Agriculture for Life's not for profit model is built on collaboration and engagement. Join us to hear about our agriculture and farm safety programs and how we work together with business, community, schools, and other local stakeholders to deliver and reach over 70,000 participants each year throughout Alberta. This session's workshop will include program examples with a key focus on communication and activation.


Nothing New: Community Engagement to support student learning.  A story of partnerships in Prairie Rose School Division

Brian Andjelic, Superintendent of Schools and Reagan Weeks, Assistant Superintendent, Learning, Prairie Rose School Division

This session will feature a few examples of new partnerships within Prairie Rose School Division that developed from the Board’s Education Plan strategies.  There will be time allocated for participants to work together to also share some of their most successful partnerships directly related to student learning and to brainstorm possibilities that could be found within their own communities.
The specific partnerships to be shared include:
1.    A functioning Alberta Treasury Branch location at Irvine School
2.    YMCA partnership in two schools in the community of Redcliff    
3.    Work with the poverty coalition / food bank centered in Medicine Hat
4.    A partnership with Enactus Canada: shaping generations of entrepreneurial leaders who are passionate about advancing the economic, social and environmental health of Canada.


Don’t Assess Needs:  Mental Health in Rural Alberta

Krystal Abrahamowicz from the Calgary Regional Consortium

Mental illness impacts school and life success. Research has demonstrated that comprehensive mental health planning in elementary, middle and high schools can influence positive mental health and reduce risk factors. Learn more about the work Calgary Regional Consortium, through grant funding from Alberta Education, is doing to support school authorities in their intentional planning to support mental health through a collaborative process that addresses the essential conditions necessary for success. Join this session to if you’re ready to begin to build a comprehensive mental health plan that includes the great work already happening in your school authority and fosters intentional relationships and pathways to, through, and from care with community partners as part of a cohesive plan.


Ignore your Seniors: Mentoring in Schools: Supporting Welcoming, Caring, Respectful and Safe Learning Environments.​


Caroline Missel – Education Manager, School and Community Supports for Children and Youth ABED, Vincent Hill – Principal, Bassano School

Research shows mentoring to be an effective approach to support students socially, emotionally and academically. Mentoring can take many forms, from formal mentoring relationships to informal arrangements between students and/or classes. Mentoring contributes to a healthy, welcoming, caring, respectful, and safe environment and is a strong protective factor for children and youth particularly those we might consider vulnerable. Mentoring has also been proven to be an effective strategy to increase engagement in school, increase high school completion and decrease bullying behaviours. This session will explore different forms of mentoring as well as resources available to support this work including the Career and Technology Studies courses and the newly released Teen Mentoring Toolkit. Participants will have an opportunity to begin creating a plan to start or enhance mentoring in their school/district.


Live in the Past: Rural Education and Vitality Study


Dot Negropontes, Bruce Schollie

This session will provide an overview of the Impact of Schools on Rural Communities study that is nearing completion after two years of interviewing school and community stakeholders throughout Alberta.  After this brief introduction, the lead researchers will take participants through an exercise to help them understand and identify the action needed to improve the sustainability of their rural schools and communities.


Don’t Cooperate: Connected Community – A Cultural Shift

Jackie Northey, Farm On

This session will introduce participants to a unique and simple tool that supports them in identifying the previously hidden reasons for community challenges and creating a new foundation for action. This new foundation drives a community to create a future that is not limited by past experiences, baggage, and failures. This approach transforms how people think about the future and they discover a whole new capacity to make a difference and a way of working together that puts your community at the center.  The session begins by sharing the story of Bashaw from both the school division (Battle River School Division) and the community perspective.