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There is structure and supervision in the electronic learning environment. Learning labs have been created so that students in different courses can work together in a computer lab with a teacher in the lab for learning support. Our district is setting up e-classrooms so that a teacher in Pemberton can teach his or her class at the same time to a class in Whistler (with a teaching assistant present). Electronic learning allows students who are willing to do the extra work, early gradation or educational enrichment (gifted). It allows our small rural schools to offer more courses.
Just because you live in Squamish doesn’t mean that these issues will not affect you in the future. While Whistler and Pemberton have tiny student bodies compared to city schools, Squamish is not in the urban leagues either. Urban secondary schools have 1,500-2,800 students. The secondary (Grades 8-12) schools in Whistler and Pemberton have approximately 350 students each, while in Squamish, Howe Sound Secondary has 750 students.
No parent can afford to be smug. The provincial government is asking parents to join the education community to provide accountability for the quality of our children’s education. That means parents need to be involved. At the school level the parent organization is called the Parent Advisory Council (PAC). Parents also sit on the School Planning Council (SPC) with school staff; they analyze data and create a school growth plan. Parents have many other potential volunteer roles in our schools besides advocacy. At the district level each school has a representative on the District PAC. DPAC is asked for input from the school board, the Ministry of Education and the B.C. Council of PACs (the provincial parent organization).
DPAC sits on the School District Budget Committee, the District Learning Roundtable and the Distributed Learning Committee (electronic education). We are attending the conference on Rural Education, a BCTF conference, District Visioning, a meeting with the Minister of Education and two BCCPAC conferences on leadership within October and November. Parents are the only unpaid participants in all of these activities. As well, we are hosting a forum for district PAC executives and SPC members Oct. 25 at Brackendale Elementary.
So Mr. Wilgosh, if your child is young, this means that if you start now you can ensure that your child and all the other Howe Sound students will have the best education possible. To paraphrase a John Kennedy quote, “Ask not what your school can do for you. Ask what you can do for your school.”