Rocky View Schools receives Upstart Innovation Award from United Way
By: Allison Chorney
| Posted: Thursday, Mar 13, 2014 10:33 am
On Feb. 12, Rocky View Schools (RVS) was recognized by the United Way of Calgary and Area as the winner of the 2014 Upstart Innovation Award.
The award was given to RVS for their involvement in Upstart’s aboriginal initiatives and the development of an Aboriginal Legacy Education and Identity Demonstration Project.
“The award really highlights what Rocky View Schools is doing to improve what it is doing for aboriginal students,” said RVS 21st Century Learning Specialist Teresa Fowler, who is involved in the legacy education project.
She said though the project is still in the planning stages with the United Way, the school division is working to develop a course for high school students with the hope it will be available to students in 2015.
“The purpose will be to increase knowledge of both aboriginal and non-aboriginal students on the history or residential schools,” Fowler said.
She said the goal is to build the capacity for students to become leaders and teach others about the impact and legacy of residential schools.
The course will be for both aboriginal and non-aboriginal students but she said she hopes is the course will be especially impactful for aboriginal students, who historically face higher dropout rates than non-aboriginal students.
“Helping (aboriginal students) understand why they face barriers might help them move forward beyond the barriers,” she said.
Though the United Way will own the project, RVS has committed to being the first division to offer the course.
Fowler said the recognition of the Upstart award sends a message that RVS is moving forward with education initiatives that are inclusive of aboriginal students and their history.
She said the course will offer both aboriginal and non-aboriginal students insight into a large part of Canada’s recent history that continued until 1997 when the last residential school in Canada was closed.
“It’s not something that just goes away,” Fowler said of the impact of the residential school system.
She said aboriginal students face intergenerational trauma as a result of the residential school system, poverty, transportation issues to get to school and cultural differences between an aboriginal student and a non-aboriginal teacher.
“It’s the awareness piece that we need to start doing differently,” Fowler said.
“The old system doesn’t work for all students, especially aboriginal students.”
The division received a crystal plate in recognition of the award.