HOME INTO A COMMUNITY SCHOOL
How We Turned a Home into a Community School at the Village
The front door swings open and laughter starts filling the entryway. The kids all walk into the house, pass through a health and safety check, and then finally take their seats in desks placed 6 feet away from one another, ready to learn.
Over the last year the pandemic has changed so many parts of our lives. At the Village, one of those things was the ability to go to school. Due to closures, none of the kids at the Village were able to go to school and in response, Carmen, our SOS Children’s Village BC educator, created a Village community school.
During those school closures Carmen was able to provide onsite education assistance to all of the children and youth at the Village, communicating with both their teachers and caregivers to ensure that their schooling wouldn’t be disrupted.
Since then, a portion of one of the homes at the Village has been transformed into a classroom. The students enter through the front door (front door means learning, and the back door is for afterschool hours), they go through a health and safety check, and then they all sit down in their socially distanced classroom. This classroom has been outfitted with headsets for all the kids and school supplies, as well as iPads for the students requiring them. We’ve been grateful to receive support from our MLA Jinny Sims who donated backpacks, and from Riverside Secondary School who donated 13 boxes full of school supplies for our classroom.
On any given day, Carmen is juggling many different grades and needs. She moves from English 11 essay writing at one desk, to Grade 4 math at the next desk – and she does it all in a way that meets their individual needs and helps them stay on track. The 2.5 acre lot at the Village has a forest in the backyard and there are many days that Carmen takes the students outside for forest school and outdoor education.
Today, many of the children still attend distanced learning with Carmen and are able to get individual, specific support with their studies in the midst of a pandemic. Some youth have chosen to go back to school because of the social and mental wellness aspect, but there are some youth at the Village who still can’t physically attend due to health and safety concerns. And until they can go back, the Village community school will be there for them!
Not only are the students getting by – they’re succeeding and thriving. Just last week we got news that one of the youth has graduated Grade 12! With a graduation rate of 47% for foster youth in Canada, and 36% for First Nations youth, we couldn’t be more proud of this youth for working incredibly hard and accomplishing this in a time of distanced learning.
In the midst of a pandemic, when distanced learning is a struggle for so many, the sustainable Village model allowed for these successes to happen. Imagine a world where you can go to your neighbour’s house for community school, have outdoor education and forest school in your backyard, raise chickens, and work on a community garden with the kids in your neighbourhood.
For the foster children at the Village, turning a home into a community school has allowed them to connect and spend time together, and this shows once again the power of the Village model of care.
By Maiya Chan, Communications and Development Assistant
Edited by William Brennan