MEDICINE HAT, AB – Business groups, politicians, and non-profits all met on Tuesday to discuss the future of education in Medicine Hat.
Close to 50 community members were on hand at the SD76 offices to brainstorm with staff, helping to produce a division outline for the next three years.
It’s was a meeting that had been in the making since July, while it’s the first time the division had reached out to the community in such a way.
Various groups were represented at Tuesday’s stakeholder engagement session, including the City of Medicine Hat, Saamis Immigration, Medicine Hat College, THRIVE, Medicine Hat Women’s Shelter Society, CCDA, and Big Brothers, Big Sisters to name a few.
Participants broke off into groups of seven or eight to come up with ideas that match SD76’s overarching goals, with feedback being incorporated into the division’s three-year plan.
Superintendent Mark Davidson said they wanted to bring in leaders from as many different fields as possible.
“It gives us a wealth of information and ideas that we might never have come up with as a group of teachers, or as a board and executive alone,” said Davidson. “So, this level of engagement I think will give us a whole bunch of ideas that we might never have considered.”
One topic that came up throughout the meeting was increasing supports division-wide for both physical and mental health in schools.
Groups also advocated for community learning, which would allow students to work with organizations outside of the classroom to gain work experience and skills.
The Medicine Hat & District Chamber of Commerce attended Tuesday’s meeting, pitching ideas on how students can better prepare to enter the workforce.
Director Tara Williams said companies are looking for students with more than just straight As and a perfect grade point average.
“How do you start making your workforce more resistant to recessions and giving them the skill sets that can lead them to future success, that aren’t just based on grades,” said Williams. “It’s actually based on skill sets and what they can offer.”
Both SD76 staff and community stakeholders wanted the division to take an active approach moving forward, creating guidelines and policies from the feedback.
Davidson said this is just the beginning of the process.
“We make a commitment to the community that this document we produce is the work that we do,” he said. “So, when we report on it, when we ask questions of the community, it will always tie back to the plan.”
The division is hoping to have a draft of their new three-year plan completed by late spring.
At that point, they will discuss the draft over the summer and reach out to community members once again before submitting it to the province.
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