In April, 2018, Connect Charter School partnered with Tsuut’ina Education Department, Mount Royal University, and the Outdoor Council of Canada to develop the Partners in Place: Building Community Through Experiential Learning multi-faceted event. Thanks to grants from the Calgary Foundation and Activate YYC, the tremendously successful event promoted collaboration and community, as well as best practices in learning, teaching, and leadership.
On April 19, 2018, students from Connect Charter School and Tsuut’ina Education Schools met in Lakeview to walk together across the 37th Street interchange to Mount Royal University to symbolize the deep bonds of this partnership. Over 1000 guests, including students, dignitaries, and Elders congregated at Mount Royal University for a presentation style powwow, which included performances by Tsuut’ina dancers, drummers, and singers. The powwow was emceed by Hal Eagletail who explained the different dances and the detailing on the dancers’ regalia. Numerous attendees stated that they felt like they were in a rock concert due to Eagletail’s enthusiastic demeanour and undeniable gusto.
The Parent Symposium was held later that evening at Connect Charter School. Parents from Connect Charter School and Tsuut’ina Education schools were invited to attend a keynote address by place-based education expert, Amy Demarest, who lead a discussion on the four elements of place-based education (experience, subject, place, and service). Guest speaker Albi Sole, Executive Director of the Outdoor Council of Canada, spoke to the group about the roots of physical literacy.
On April 20, Connect Charter School hosted the full-day Partners in Place Educators Symposium, which focused on place-based education and Indigenous ways of teaching, learning, and knowing. At the start of the day, Amy Demarest once again lead a discussion on the four elements of place-based education (experience, subject, place, and service) for the attendees. The group then dispersed to attend one of 10 the different breakout sessions offered in the morning. One of the most highly attended session of the morning was Learning math from place: What does it mean to circle, which was lead by Gladys Sternberg from Mount Royal University and Courtney Fox from Chiila Elementary.
“I liked that we were able to practice the different circle activities during the session and not just hear them being explained,” stated a teacher from Chiila Elementary.
Other popular sessions included Relationships and School Culture, Tsuut’ina Language 101 and Tipi Raising. There was a delicious lunch served to all the attendees, which included stew, bannock and an array of desserts to choose from. Pemmican, berry soup and Indian popcorn were handed out in tester containers for guests to sample traditional Tsuut’ina snacks. After lunch, guest speaker Albi Sole, Executive Director of the Outdoor Council of Canada, lead the entire group in a discussion of physical literacy before everyone left to attend their final sessions of the day. The afternoon sessions ranged from Place, Pedagogy and Partnership: Shared Voices in Socioecological Connectivity, The Power of Place: Cultivating Inquiry With/In and Through Nature and Fun Environmental Activities in your Schoolyard. One of the most memorable sessions of the day was Storytelling lead by Gerald Meguinis, who held his session in the outdoor Tipi. “I love story telling,” explained a Connect Charter School Staff member, “It’s something everyone can benefit from, and Gerald was amazing.”
Talented session leaders, staff, and student volunteers ensured that Partners in Place was a great success. In June 2019, the Calgary Foundation has awarded a second grant to Connect Charter School, in partnership with Tsuut’ina Education, Mount Royal University, and Alberta Health Services, in furtherance of this partnership.
To review some the media coverage of the Partners in Place: Building Communities Through Experiential Learning please click on the links below.
Photos by: Denise Kitagawa & Neil Zeller