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2023 05 30 | Dave MacKenzie | Robyn Lindahl of SD22 "Connections Program"

It was a pleasure to have Robyn Lindahl, Behavior Specialist from District 22's Connections Program join us this morning and explain the program to the more than 20 Rotarians and guests in attendance. Robyn is a colleague of VSS Rotarian Dave MacKenzie, who hosted Robyn this morning.

The Connections Program is unlike 'conventional' education programs in that it is rooted first in helping secondary school-age youth who may find themselves a bit disconnected from other students and the community in general. "By getting the [students] connected to something we're doing first, we find this becomes a catalyst to their engaging in the rest of the academic experience," Robyn shared.

The Connections Program is in its 3rd year and exists at all 5 Vernon area Secondary Schools, supporting 140 students. The program is largely self-paced academically and based on a "Proactive Curriculum" that combines paper-based academic components with community activities, wellness activities, and charitable activities to provide the [students] multiple ways of 'connecting' to peers, their community, and the school in general. Activities commonly include things like snowshoeing in winter, hiking in spring or fall, preparing and serving food at the Upper Room Mission, filling Good Food boxes, or simply shoveling a sidewalk in front of seniors' homes.

These activities are combined with a paper-based academic curriculum that includes conventional subjects such as Math, Science, English, and Socials Studies. In order to avoid students becoming even more disconnected when the pace of the conventional academic program does not meet them where they are, this is all 'self-paced.' "A student that might miss a week of school because of a family or other personal situation may be reticent to return to school, knowing they are now a week behind and don't want that pressure or stigma. Our program allows them to return and pick up where they are without the pressure. We also have students that learn faster than the conventional academic program, and they can accelerate through a subject without becoming bored and, again, disconnected."

Classes are organized around a 20:1 student-to-teacher ratio, and there is a substantial wait list for other youth to get into the program. Funding comes from a combination of School District support and grants from community organizations.

Dave MacKenzie and Robyn Lindahl

"The conventional academic model is not for everyone. Not everyone moves at the same pace, and many youths are dealing with issues unrelated to school that follow them to school or, worse, prevent them from coming in the first place. The Connections Program gives these students another way of putting their futures on a good path."

For more information, check-out: https://sd22.bc.ca/wp-content/...