It's all in the kit
Sharon Herring keeps subject materials flowing to Deh Cho

Derek Neary
Northern News Services

Fort Simpson (Dec 10/99) - Sharon Herring is always on the lookout for educational materials and information that she can add to her kits.

As the area resource centre technician for the Dehcho Divisional Board of Education, Herring is constantly updating educational "kits" that are shipped off to the nine regional schools upon request.

The resource centre is home to more than 100 kits containing science, social studies and health materials. The topics range from "beavers to DNA testing," she said, adding that Nunavut was added to the list of topics this year. Each kit may contain items such as magazine articles, videos, "big books," binders, curriculum materials and word cards. They all come with an itemized list of contents and a lesson plan that Herring developed herself.

"You give them (teachers) a tool so they're not spending hours trying to develop something for themselves," she said. "That's the beauty of it."

As each kit makes its rounds, it can inspire other ingenious assignment and activity ideas. The details can be included in a specific envelope included for that very reason and then passed along to the next school, Herring noted.

Thirty to 40 kits are rotated every cycle, most on a one-month loan. A database is used to keep track of what has been borrowed and where it's headed next. The information in the kits is always expanding.

Herring, who is also responsible for laminating, video dubbing and book binding, reviews materials that come through the resource centre, checks the Internet for subject matter, scans her own magazines, and has even written to organizations such as NASA and received all kinds of stuff.

"You do lots of research to get the kits together," she said, smiling. "You're always adding, it's never, ever complete ... you cannot exhaust the job. There's always more learning."

The materials are all meticulously organized in plastic containers. Herring, who has been on the job for 10 years, remarked that they used to be packed in cardboard boxes, but those rarely endured more than four or five trips before falling apart.

The plastic containers, on the other hand, have been transported by air, water and land with nary a scratch. They also held up well during the summer when a fire in Deh Cho Hall resulted in the sprinkler system dousing the wing of the building with water, she noted.

It takes a well co-ordinated effort to get the kits, which weigh anywhere from six to 25 kilograms, to their destinations. Herring always has an ear attuned to talk of travel. RCMP members, pilots, government employees from various departments and residents of surrounding communities have all graciously delivered the kits to the schools in Wrigley, Nahanni Butte, Trout Lake, Fort Liard, Fort Providence, Kakisa and Jean Marie River at one time or another.

"You have to have a whole network to make this work well," she said.