Aboriginal Inquiry: Lifting All Learners

An Impact Assessment of the Aboriginal Enhancement Schools Network (AESN)

5.4 The role of the AESN in the Prince Rupert School District

The AESN has been operating in the Prince Rupert school district since the Network’s inception in 2009; as noted in the introduction to this report, Prince Rupert teachers, and in particular, its District Principal of Aboriginal Education, Debbie Leighton-Stephens, have been foundational players in the design, development and early launch of the AESN . We also became aware of the lead role several prominent educators have played in this district, among them Lynn Hauptman, School Superintendent, Judy Zacharias, Principal, Elizabeth Wilson (former Network regional leader, now retired but still actively supporting Aboriginal Education initiatives), and Christine Franes, District Helping Teacher, and current NOII /AESN Co-ordinator.

A review of the case studies underway or completed and filed with the AESN principals and/or the District Principal of Aboriginal Education reveals the following:

Figure 4: AESN Projects in Prince Rupert School District

Conrad Street Elementary

#52 Prince Rupert

AESN

Reading

2008-09

4

Roosevelt Park Elementary

#52 Prince Rupert

AESN

Reading

2008-09

4

Conrad Street Elementary

#52 Prince Rupert

AESN

Reading

2009-10

4

Hartley Bay School

#52 Prince Rupert

AESN

Aboriginal Culture and Traditions

2009-10

5

Pineridge Elementary

#52 Prince Rupert

AESN

Aboriginal Art and Reading Comprehension

2009-10

4

Roosevelt Park Elementary

#52 Prince Rupert

AESN

Reading

2009-10

4

Conrad Elementary

#52 Prince Rupert

AESN

Reading comprehension

2010-11

4

Hartley Bay School

#52 Prince Rupert

AESN

Building upon last year’s inquiry – Aboriginal Culture and Traditions

2010-11

7

Pineridge Elementary

#52 Prince Rupert

AESN

Year two of Inquiry – Aboriginal Art and Reading Comprehension

2010-11

3

Roosevelt Park Elementary

#52 Prince Rupert

AESN

Reading

2010-11

4

No inquiries completed due to job action; however many inquiries launched in 2010 were continued without formal reporting.

2011-2012

Charles Hays Secondary

NOII *

Students Owning Their Own Learning (partnered with Hartley Bay School) (using strategies such as Aboriginal cognitive tools & differentiated instruction)

2

Conrad Elementary

NOII *

Integration of Aboriginal literature (year three of original inquiry)

4

Hartley Bay School

AESN

Building upon last 2 years inquiry – Aboriginal Culture and Traditions (year 3)

7

Pineridge Elementary

NOII *

Integrating Aboriginal Knowledge into Science and Social Studies.

2

Prince Rupert Middle School

AESN

Integrating Aboriginal Knowledge into Gr. 8 SS

4

Roosevelt Park Middle School

AESN

Integrating philosophy of Restitution

4

Pacific Coast School

AESN

Project based learning to improve achievement for Aboriginal students

4

* In these cases, the inquiries were begun under the auspices of NOII , although they were primarily concerned with Aboriginal student success and are therefore included here.

In interviews and focus groups with the teachers involved in the AESN , it was also reported that teachers participated in the formal structural components of the Network, including participation in school, district and regional meetings. As part of their Network activity, these teachers reported on some of the ways in which they became more aware of the Network activity of colleagues in the region via the formal year-end ‘showcase’. A former regional Network leader interviewed for this study estimated that approximately 50 teachers from the region meet at the end of each school year to discuss their inquiry questions and share their learning and results. This process generates intensely focused discussions among participants about both how goals were achieved and pathways/routes to future inquiries. Earlier in the document, the notion of developing “hunches”, “new professional learning” and “checking” as a part of the process of inquiry were described; conversations with AESN members who attended these showcases highlight how these processes become integral to the showcase process of sharing inquiry results. And, in keeping with effective professional learning literature, AESN members frequently report the ways in which their inquiry questions led to deeper and more frequent forms of collaboration, professionally focused, learning centered conversations, and in deeply engaged reflection on one’s own teaching practice.

Christine Franes, the district’s Literacy Support teacher, has been involved in the AESN since its inception. During the site visit to Prince Rupert, she was able to provide detailed evidence of the degree of teacher involvement in the Network. After reviewing the summary of inquiry reports, she was able to document that 55 teachers have been active in the Network in Prince Rupert. In a total teaching population of 150, this is a significant number of teachers—more than 30%– who have become, or are currently members involved in inquiry work.