Candace Spilsbury, chair of the Cowichan Valley board of education, speaks to Lake Cowichan town councillors about the district’s priorities and successes. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)

Candace Spilsbury, chair of the Cowichan Valley board of education, speaks to Lake Cowichan town councillors about the district’s priorities and successes. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)

VIDEO: New styles of teaching and learning are in classrooms now: Spilsbury

In an era when educating styles change rapidly, Cowichan Valley is keeping up: board chair

School board chair Candace Spilsbury told Lake Cowichan town council that she and her colleagues are eager to talk with municipalities.

“As part of our term we have been working on our priorities. We’re feeling very confident that we have a plan and we want you to know what it is. Perhaps there is some mutual interest that we can engage together to help kids.

Spilsbury stressed that working with aboriginal students is very important to the board.

“We’ve worked hard to establish relationships and support aboriginal student learning,” she said.

“It’s been a priority for us to have aboriginal students retained in their classrooms right through, so they are not dropping out. It was a huge success last year when the achievement results came out and our total overall graduation rates had gone up by five per cent and our aboriginal graduation rates had gone up by seven per cent in one year. That’s an amazing feat for a school district.”

The board has a vision of educational excellence for everyone, everywhere, every time and “we truly try to walk this talk,” Spilsbury said. “We target every student in every school.”

She then talked about the new curriculum.

“I know you are quite engaged with our schools and we’re very pleased that you are so involved and supportive with them. The new curriculum talks about community participation and some of our classrooms now are inviting community participation, asking people to be part of their classrooms, as students are learning a particular area in that curriculum. Or they go out, and we call it land based education. We have some classrooms that are more devoted to that than others. But we would like to see that increased because it is one of the new directions.”

Having the community involved, offering personalized learning allows students to follow individual passions that they want to pursue in their education, she said.

“There is more ability for students to choose an area of interest that they have and structure their projects to fit.

“This is the new way, so it’s not a lecture by a teacher anymore. Teachers are expected to facilitate the learning, to bring out the interest of students, which engages them and which focuses them on the learning outcomes needed.”

Spilsbury said the other piece that was really being promoted was “student voice.”

“We have had a student district advisory committee for a long time and we kind of listened to them but we didn’t really listen and engage and implement. But now, my gosh, they are telling us and they are really bright and provide ideas we wouldn’t even have imaginged. It’s quite an interesting adventure when you work with students in that way.

“They have the voice to tell you how to make it better for them. We’re really trying to support that.”

Different programs such as career and dual credit programs are helping to keep students in school, Spilsbury said.

Some students are able to take first year courses at VIU, or do apprenticeships. The district’s trade centre sees students working on welding, carpentry, hairdressing, HVAC and more.

“We have a story about 32 students enrolling for the welding program; 31 of them finished it, and 30 of them had jobs at the end of it. It’s quite a miraculous story. Four years ago, apparently, we had four kids in these programs. Last year, we had 275 by the end of the year and this year we’re predicting 300.

“These are obvious areas of interest to students.”

In district’s 10-year facilities plan a replacement for the aging Cowichan Secondary is priority No. 1, Spilsbury said.

“With our enrolment problems, action is needed. We now have 14 portables on our Cowichan Secondary site, putting the two campuses together. We heard tonight a draft report by a demographic consultant who has now specified what areas are that are being built on in our community and where the sites are that are going to need new development.”

The result of Bill 28 is that it has brought new teachers into schools this year and probably the same number of additional classrooms.

“The result is that all of our schools are full in the Duncan north and south areas. Getting that survey of demographics is really worthwhile for that reason.”

It will help the board make decisions for the future, she said.

Town of Lake Cowichan Coun. Tim McGonigle said Lake Cowichan is seeing an influx of younger families, and he felt there might be reason for concern at Palsson.

“Each year we review where our priorities are. The demographer that presented tonight said the Lake area would remain stable over time. He was looking at through to 2040. Unless something happens, like new industry here, there isn’t a great deal of change forecast in student enrolment,” Spilsbury told him. “At Palsson there’s been a change of two students this year. But last year overall, there were 454 students here, this year there are 446. But we are finding the secondary schools have all lost a bit.”

McGonigle said the realignment of Lake Cowichan School to include Grades 4, 5, and 6, has made a difference.

“Although I was reluctant with that process, I have a grandson in there and he is thriving. I will say when I was wrong. It’s not often politicians say that, but I was wrong about that.”

Coun. Day asked, “Do you have any idea how close Lake Cowichan [School] is to capacity now?”

Spilsbury told him she didn’t have the exact number with her but the school is not close to capacity.



lexi.bainas@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

Candace Spilsbury, chair of the Cowichan Valley board of education, speaks to Lake Cowichan town councillors about the district’s priorities and successes. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)

Candace Spilsbury, chair of the Cowichan Valley board of education, speaks to Lake Cowichan town councillors about the district’s priorities and successes. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)

Just Posted

Black Press file photo
RCMP seek suspect in Vancouver Island-wide crime spree

Crimes stretched from Deep Bay to Qualicum, Ladysmith, Chemainus and Youbou

North Cowichan’s committee of the whole have rejected staff’s recommendation to limit the use of fireworks to Halloween. (File photo)
North Cowichan rejects limiting fireworks to Halloween

Municipality decides staff recommendation would be unpopular

Things are looking up for Vancouver Island as zero COVID-19 cases have been reported for the first time since October. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Island records zero new COVID-19 cases for the first time since October

For the first time since October, the province is reporting zero new… Continue reading

CVRD Area E director Alison Nicholson, right, hiked two hours to Waterfall Camp at the Fairy Creek watershed along with Comox town councillor Nicole Minion and Comox Valley Regional District director Daniel Arbour to meet with old-growth logging activists on Monday, June 7. (Submitted)
Cowichan Valley regional director visits Fairy Creek protest camps

‘They clearly communicated that they are committed to what they are doing’

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Karl and Stephanie Ann Johanson were thrilled to spot a pair of Sandhill Cranes in the Panama Flats this month, an unusual appearance for such birds. (Photo by Stephanie Ann Johanson)
WATCH: Sandhill cranes an unusual, joyful sight in South Island parkland

These birds don’t often touch down on their way between northern B.C. and Mexico

(V.I. Trail/Google Maps)
Now 90% complete, Vancouver Island trail forges new funding parnership

Victoria Foundation takes on Vancouver Island Trail Association; fund valued at $40,000

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

Freighters have becomd abundant in the Trincomali Channel on the east side of Thetis Island.
Nanaimo ponders taking on waste from nearby anchored freighters

Vancouver-based Tymac petitioning the Regional District of Nanaimo to accept waste at its landfill

(Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Trutch Avenue in Chilliwack to be renamed to remove racist taint

New name to have Indigenous significance as Chilliwack takes new step toward reconciliation

Most Read