Students at Ermineskin Elementary School are using a Cree-style learning program that’s boosting literacy and attendance. (Contributed photo).

Students at Ermineskin Elementary School are using a Cree-style learning program that’s boosting literacy and attendance. (Contributed photo).

Maskwacis school is boosting student literacy, attendance with a Cree-style program

Students are more engaged with community and there’s more parental ‘buy-in,’ says principal

Ermineskin Elementary School in Maskwacis has brought up literacy levels and attendance by using a Cree-style approach that’s resonating with students and their parents.

Principal Doris Auger said First Nations schools have always struggled to get a “buy-in” from families, because of negative historical associations and experiences with residential schools.

Achieving a significant measurable educational success — as was formally recognized by the school receiving a Leader in Me Lighthouse School certification by the FranklinCovey educational program — is very heartening, said Auger.

The certification recognizes that more than half of the Grade 1-6 students (54.7 per cent) reached an acceptable literary level in 2018-19. Auger said this compares to just 29 per cent in 2010-11.

It also recognizes that 40 per cent of the school’s students have achieved 90 to 100 per cent class attendance, compared to only 28 per cent in 2010-11. Overall attendance during this same period rose to 85 per cent from about 81 per cent.

Related:

Indigenous mural painted on Red Deer high school’s walls

Auger has seen a remarkable transformation from when she started teaching at the 342-student school 30 years ago. “I was lucky if half the kids were there each day,” she recalled.

A decade ago, former Ermineskin Elementary School principal, Debbie Michael, noticed that the FranklinCovey program being used in her son’s school was making a positive difference in his attitude towards learning and life. The global program is based on Stephen R. Covey’s book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, but is tailored for young students.

Michael, who is of First Nations background, also noticed distinct similarities between the program’s approach and traditional Cree teachings, said Auger — so the school applied for a grant and was able to adopt the program.

Ermineskin Elementary students are now taught “you are in charge of your own education.” They learn to collaborate, work towards an end goal, take responsibility for their own actions, and to “seek first to understand others and then to be understood — which means listening first,” said Auger.

Related:

-Red Deer College to host Indigenous Perspectives conference

Among the principles is “sharpening the saw,” which means taking care of yourself in body, mind and spirit, she added.

The school has created “leadership teams” for dancing, technology, cooking, or others area of student interest, “so they can show off their skills and passions,” said Auger.

Outdoor education and community service are other prioritized areas. Auger said the children have sung to seniors’ groups, collected donations for the food bank and women’s shelter, and made cookies and mitts for those in need.

Because of these community connections, she believes parents have gained a more positive view of the school, and have encouraged their children’s education through more home reading and homework sessions.

Auger believes this has especially helped during periods when the school has had to shut down to reduce the COVID-19 spread and shift to at-home learning.

“Our literacy is not high enough yet, but it’s improving,” added the principal, who is Métis and is married to a First Nations man. She believes the many years she and other educators have taught at Ermineskin Elementary School has also helped foster trust and good community relations.

”Some of my students’ parents I taught from when they were in Grade 1!”



lmichelin@reddeeradvocate.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Maskwacis

Just Posted

Ella Stoner, five, is ready to cut off her hair and donate it to A Child’s Voice Foundation. (Photo by Lauren Stoner Photography)
Central Alberta girl to donate her ‘princess hair’ to A Child’s Voice Foundation

A five-year-old girl from Rimbey has never had a haircut before. Now,… Continue reading

Asymptomatic testing will now be available for "priority groups" who are most likely to spread the COVID-19 virus to vulnerable or at-risk populations. File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS
Alberta adds 1,195 new COVID-19 cases Saturday

Red Deer has dropped to 760 active cases

Lacombe-Ponoka MLA Ron Orr
Central Alberta MLAs comment on UCP members kicked out of caucus

A pair of central Alberta MLAs have commented on the two United… Continue reading

Contributed photo
Johanna Hannaford: Central Alberta designer offers inclusive clothing

By Stephanie Rhodes Local designer Johanna Hannaford’s inclusive clothing creations are smashing… Continue reading

Red life-ring with splash
Started from the bottom: How a family business started and grew in central Alberta

By Carina Moran We started our business in the basement of our… Continue reading

Vancouver Canucks' Zack MacEwen (71), Travis Boyd (72) and Jimmy Vesey (24) celebrate a goal against the Edmonton Oilers during third period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 15, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Big third period lifts Vancouver Canucks to 4-1 victory over Edmonton Oilers

Canucks 4 Oilers 1 EDMONTON — Matthew Highmore scored twice in the… Continue reading

A vial of the Medicago vaccine sits on a surface. CARe Clinic, located in Red Deer, has been selected to participate in the third phase of vaccine study. (Photo courtesy www.medicago.com)
Canada’s vaccine rollout operation won’t miss a beat with new military leader: expert

DARTMOUTH — The sudden departure of the senior military officer in charge… Continue reading

Quebec Premier Francois Legault speaks during a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic, Tuesday, September 29, 2020 at the legislature in Quebec City. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot
Quebec premier argues province has power to amend constitution in letter to Trudeau

MONTREAL — Quebec Premier François Legault has written a letter to Prime… Continue reading

A demonstrator stands in front of riot police officers during a banned protest in support of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, in Paris, Saturday, May, 15, 2021. Marches in support of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip were being held Saturday in a dozen French cities, but the focus was on Paris where riot police countered organizers who said they would defy a ban on the protest, ordered on the grounds that it risked turning violent. (AP Photo/Rafael Yaghobzadeh)
Police fire tear gas on banned Palestinian march in Paris

PARIS (AP) — French riot police fired tear gas and used water… Continue reading

Photo by The Associated Press
NYC Pride parade bans police; Gay officers ‘disheartened’

NEW YORK (AP) — Organizers of New York City’s Pride events said… Continue reading

Welcoming cowboy boots at the historic and colourful Last Chance Saloon in the ghost town of Wayne near Drumheller, Alta., on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019. The bar and hotel are up for sale. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘It was a going concern’: Remaining bar and hotel in Alberta coal ghost town for sale

WAYNE, Alta. — Built during the First World War, it survived the… Continue reading

A letter from a bottle that washed up in New Brunswick in 2017 is shown in an undated handout photo. A team of researchers from Université du Québec à Rimouski are trying to solve the mystery of whether a letter in a bottle that washed up in New Brunswick in 2017 was indeed from a young victim of Titanic shipwreck or simply a hoax. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, N. Beaudry, UQAR *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Real or hoax? Quebec scholars probe mystery letter allegedly from Titanic passenger

MONTREAL — Researchers from Université du Québec à Rimouski are trying to… Continue reading

Minister of Transport Marc Garneau takes part in a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2019. Advocates, experts and opposition MPs say correspondence showing close communication between the federal Transport Department and the Canadian Transportation Agency regarding passenger refunds throws into question the independence of the CTA, an arm’s-length body. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Emails reveal close communication between government, transport regulator on refunds

OTTAWA — Advocates, experts and opposition MPs say correspondence showing close communication… Continue reading

Most Read