Learning for Life

Elaine Taylor, MLA for Whitehorse West

As submitted to the Whitehorse Star on Thursday, April 17th, 2014
by Elaine Taylor, Minister of Education

During this past week, Yukoners have been celebrating Education Week, an opportunity to recognize teachers, students, families, governments, community organizations and volunteers who contribute to life-long learning for Yukon students of all ages.

A team in the First Annual Lego Robotics Challenge gets hi-fives from the judges

A team in the first Yukon Robotics Challenge gets hi-fives from the judges

Throughout the week, I was pleased to attend a number of activities including the very first Yukon Robotics Challenge at Porter Creek Secondary School, the Wrestling Championships at the Canada Games Centre and a funding announcement in support of the Northern Institute of Social Justice at Yukon College. These examples remind us that learning takes place not only at school, but throughout our communities and throughout our lives.

A key priority for our government is working to provide more meaningful experiences for Yukon students in support of successful learning outcomes. One example of a community-led initiative is that of the Old Crow Experiential Education Project. Last week, my colleague Darius Elias and I had the opportunity to take part in Culture Camp. A unique partnership between the Vuntut Gwitchin Government and the department of Education, the camp provides students from Old Crow the opportunity to develop their Gwich’in language, culture and traditional land-based skills while achieving learning outcomes in literacy, numeracy, history and science.

Darius Elias and Minister of Education Elaine Taylor participate in Culture Camp in Old Crow

Darius Elias and Minister of Education Elaine Taylor participate in Culture Camp in Old Crow

In Dawson City and Teslin, along with Old Crow, secondary school programs have been established this year providing students with an alternative learning path to complete high school. These programs assist students by creating learning centres in their home communities where they have the support they need to successfully graduate.

Minister of Education Elaine Taylor announces the approval of over $2.5 million in funding for the continued operation of the NISJ

Minister of Education Elaine Taylor announces the approval of over $2.5 million in funding for the continued operation of the Northern Institute of Social Justice.

The Watson Lake Secondary School has seen significant success with implementation of a blended learning approach which combines technology and teacher expertise to support students who are progressing through online curricula at their own pace. Face-to-face instruction is combined with online courses to give students more flexibility in their learning journey. A significant improvement in attendance and other successes can be attributed to the leadership shown by the school and Yukon Education working together to make education more responsive to the individual needs of students.

The department of Education has also been working with the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in government to develop an alternative programming model to support vulnerable learners, create a made-in-Yukon unit on residential schools to be taught in Social Studies 10 and accredit a Dawson City culture camp for the 2014-2015 school year. This year, Whitehorse schools such as Whitehorse Elementary and Vanier Catholic Secondary have also taken the initiative to host week-long activities to enhance awareness of Yukon First Nations culture.

Collaboration is key to the success of these and other initiatives currently underway throughout the territory to bridge the achievement gap between rural and urban Yukon students. Working together with communities and stakeholders, we are making great strides that are yielding results. There is much work yet to be done and we look forward to working with our partners in education on future initiatives.