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Teachers prepare for classes

Chris Puglia
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Aug 28/02) - Teachers had a day of learning for themselves before another school year began yesterday.

Over 300 teachers from Yellowknife Education District No. 1 and Yellowknife Catholic Schools gathered last week at Sir John Franklin high school for a professional development day.

Topics of discussion included language arts and literacy, mathematics and numeracy, and culture-based education.

"It's a really rich program. For each of these sections there were about four speakers," said Mieke Cameron, principal of Sir John Franklin.

About 20 speakers from the South and the North attended the event and Cameron added many of those education experts are based in the North.

"We have very dynamic and learned people in the North," she said.

Literacy and cultural learning were the main focus.

Cameron said it was a great start to the school year.

"It's really very exciting to see so many people in the hallways again, and teachers refreshed from holidays and enthusiastic about teaching." she said. "It's a positive start."

Literacy a focus

Two local schools will be piloting an early literacy program.

The program, entitled Read to Succeed, will be implemented at J.H. Sissons school and Mildred Hall school.

Walter Hrycauk, principal of RA Reynolds school in Cold Lake, Alta., talked to teachers about the literacy program entitled, Overage Beginning Readers, which is part of Read to Succeed.

The initiative is aimed at the secondary- education level -- grades 4 to 12 -- to assist students who are reading below their grade level achieve the same level of literacy as their peers.

Hrycauk says the initiative is challenging because of the age of the students.

"These kids have developed phobias. They've gone four, five or six years without succeeding. They've learned ways to beat the system," he said. "We're working with kids who don't want to read."

The goal is to get the students interested in reading and realizing success in the subject.

"For the first time these kids have been able to achieve at the same level as the rest of their class," said Hrycauk. "The success rate has been very good."

Aboriginal students' learning needs was another hot topic.

Presentations were given by representatives from the Prince of Wales Museum demonstrating their resources in terms of cultural based learning.

As well, a speaker from the University of Saskatchewan talked about connecting classrooms and cultures.

"It talks about assessment of student learning styles with a focus on how aboriginal students learn," said Cameron.