May. 5, 2016
Our Connected North network continues to grow! Today we celebrate another great milestone by officially welcoming the Mine Centre School in Mine Centre, Ontario to the program. This wonderful school has a student population of 60 students from Mine Centre, Chiima'aanganing (Seine River) First Nation, and Nigigoonsiminikaaning (Red Gut) First Nation. With the nearest town, Fort Frances, being more than a 45 minute drive away, Connected North is connecting the school and bringing “the world” to the students of Mine Centre like never before through the magic of Cisco’s TelePresence.
And the learning goes both ways as the Mine Centre students share the things that are important to them with students in other parts of Canada. “All of us at Mine Centre are excited, and feel tremendously fortunate to have been the first school in Ontario selected to be a part of the Connected North Project,” Barbe Dennis, the Principal of Mine Centre School recently told me. “I imagine the possibilities for our students to share their local Ojibwe language and culture, learning with the world, instead of just learning about it; bringing a sense of pride, and creating students that are aware of, and comfortable with, interaction with peers across the province, the country, and the world.”
“This project also supports the development of a sense of identity as students learn that everyone does not have the same opportunities and experiences they do, while also understanding that all human beings are alike in many ways. These connections have the ability to instill hope in our students as they learn about possibilities that life holds, while inspiring them to set goals to achieve their dreams.”
And that is what Connected North is all about – using the latest collaboration technology to bring unique experiences like virtual field trips to life, training and supporting the tremendous teachers who work in communities across Canada’s north, building cross-cultural understanding between students from north and south, and nurturing feelings of hope and possibility.
During our celebration event today, we saw fantastic examples of the program in action. Mine Centre connected with the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward, Alaska, and students from West Point Grey Academy in Vancouver to build on classroom discussions around the theme of survival.
The Alaska SeaLife Centre first took the students on a virtual field trip of the zoo and used their animal ambassadors to demonstrate how survival looks in the animal kingdom. Then students had the opportunity to ask questions and also share their thoughts around survival in the wilderness through a special collaborative art piece. Teachers from Mine Centre and West Point Grey Academy co-planned this activity in collaboration with TakingITGlobal, the lead education partner for the Connected North program, and we were all excited to see the final product of this special inquiry project.
The expansion of Connected North to Mine Centre would not have been possible without our wonderful ecosystem of partners, and specifically The Learning Partnership who have provided leadership and funding support for this school. Akela Peoples, President and CEO of The Learning Partnership recently stated that, “We are thrilled to support the expansion of the Connected North program, which, in this case, has enabled three remote schools in Ontario, the first being Mine Centre, to benefit from this unique program supporting Indigenous students’ learning.”
Heather Campbell, the Rainy River District School Board Director of Education also wanted to add her thanks to the Connected North community. “Along with Mine Centre School staff and students, the Rainy River District School Board deeply appreciates the contributions provided through this partnership, which further empowers our students to participate in truly authentic and rich learning experiences. This Project supports an important goal of the Board’s Strategic Plan – purposeful, responsible and innovative use of technology as a communication and learning tool. The power of Connected North is its potential to support our Mine Centre students to be global citizens, enhancing their learning through the opportunities and experiences afforded by the Project."
Connected North is all about transforming lives through technology – so make sure to check out our website to learn more about how we are making this happen in Mine Centre and all of our Connected North partner schools!