News / Calgary

'Impressive': Calgary public school trustees praise impact of FNMI grad coaches

In just one year, there has been a nearly 25 per cent increase in FNMI students participating in diploma exams at the CBE

Julie Hrdlicka called the nearly 25 per cent increase &quotincredible and impressive."

Lucie Edwardson / Metro Order this photo

Julie Hrdlicka called the nearly 25 per cent increase "incredible and impressive."

Graduation coaches for Indigenous students within Calgary public school system are paying off.

On Tuesday, the Calgary Board of Education (CBE) administration reported to the board of trustees a 24.8 per cent increase in the number of First Nations, Métis and Inuit students who wrote their diploma exams in the 2016-17 school year, compared to the previous year (2015-16.)

The administration said there are a number of elements of their work contributing to that success, including that the Indigenous Education Strategy is a part of the CBE’s three-year-plan, as well as the introduction of graduation coaches for Indigenous students in each high school and 11 elementary, middle and junior high schools.

The graduation coaches, introduced to the CBE at the beginning of the 2015-16 school year, are part of school leadership teams.

“This intentional increase in focus in our schools has allowed students who self-identify as FNMI to feel a stronger sense of belonging in their school communities, to learn about the courses that are available to them and to make informed choices about the courses they’d like to choose,” said Diane Roulson, director of learning.

Wards 11 and 13 trustee Julie Hrdlicka called the increase “incredible and impressive.”

“Those are enormous numbers of students feeling confident enough to participate and be part of their own success in learning and that gives me great hope in where we’re headed with our Indigenous Education Strategy,” she said.

The administration said they've done engagement with Indigenous communities, students, parents, and elders to inform their strategy-- in fact, administration meets with elders who advise them every six weeks.

"We rely heavily on Western ways of knowing, and what we're seeking to do, very deliberately with Indigenous elders and knowledge keepers is to bring Indigenous ways of knowing alongside," said Roulson.

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