Saskatoon's Oskayak High School receives national award
- EFN Staff | May 13, 2014
Oskayak High School is being recognized nationally for its increased student achievement.
The President and CEO of the Canadian Education Association (CEA) Ron Canuel was recently in Saskatoon to personally deliver the honourable mention for the CEA Ken Spencer Award for Innovation in Teaching and Learning.
Canuel congratulated the students and staff, noting staff always want to make a difference for their students.
"When we see actual proof that it happens, that's what it's all about."
A few years ago, only a handful of studetns would graduate each year from Oskayak. Now, the school has graduating classes in the 30s and 40s.
"Throughout this school renewal, teachers collaborated to implement pedagogies that reflected Cree ways of knowing, developed expertise in inquiry and problem-based learning and infused the learning environment with technology. In just over three years (2010-2013), school attendance has increased by 27 per cent and the number of Grade 12 graduates has risen from three to 45 students," read the school's submission to the CEA.
Teacher Randy Morin called Oskayak a "very special place," thanks to Elders, the parent council, and administration, because there is such a focus on Cree culture through feasts, pow wows, and sweats.
Nicole Isabelle, also a teacher at Oskayak, thanked the students for their buy-in in how subjects are taught.
"Without the students embracing that, we wouldn't have success," she said.
"Oskayak is a home for all our students. A home is a place where you feel comfortable to try new things and blossom."
Grade 12 student Andre Couillonneur-Bear, who will be attending the University of Saskatchwean in the fall, says Oskayak students and staff need to be more vocal in celebrating the big achievements of the school.
"Before I came here, I didn't know who I was," he told the assembly, saying he struggled with violence and addictions.
"I see myself as a more successfull, more whole person, and I have the school to thank for that."
Classmate Laryn Oakes echoed Couillonneur-Bear's sentiments.
"If it wasn't for Oskayak, I wouldn't be where I am today."
Oskayak was one of the seven winning schools out of hundreds across Canada that applied for the CEA awards.