Prairie Sky School takes a new approach to education
- Memory McLeod | August 31, 2023
Advocating for greater access to opportunity for Indigenous youth has been a life-long journey for Jacqueline Thompson.
Serving in various supportive roles has given her a unique perspective on how to engage young people in reconciliation-based education programs.
“It’s fulfilling to be part of a team who are committed to educating in a way that puts truth and reconciliation first, whether they are in the classroom or on the land,” said Thompson. “A lesson may begin with a meditation or land acknowledgement that integrates the history and cultural heritage of that place.”
Prairie Sky School provides a land-based component, which aligns with curriculum standards and incorporates Treaty Education for Pre-K to Grade 8 students.
As part of its commitment to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, it’s offering 20 scholarships covering $40,000 of costs such as tuition and travel to land-based teaching locations to Indigenous students.
“We do charge a tuition, being that we are only partially funded, but we are not a registered charity,” she said.
The school is grounded in principles such as preserving the right of students to engage in current, global resistance movements.
The educators also support students holistically.
“They access the help that’s there for Indigenous students through Jordan’s Principle,” said Thompson. “Sometimes we can get teacher aide support for individuals [with higher needs].”
The school is also working to decolonize education and address as many of the educational needs of the students.
“It’s based on connecting with the land and how we are all [Treaty] people, and we are all land stewards,” said Thompson. “They begin with planting and harvesting their own plants, they cook and bake together, to understand reciprocity to the land. You see kids in kindergarten making smoothies with fruits and veggies grown by the previous kindergarten class,”
The school aims to build understanding about colonial impacts on the land and populations both past and present.
Thompson says the feedback she gets from families is positive.
A testimonial on its website from a parent really stood out for Thompson, which she wanted to share.
“We chose Prairie Sky because of their efforts on reconciliation, the connection with earth, and the intentionality of the teaching methods. We are happy that our kid understands the importance of connection to earth, learns different Indigenous languages and about the groups of people that coexist on this land (First Peoples, Métis, Settlers, Newcomers) and the role we all have towards mending this land. The school is very intentional in the teaching, and they often bring in experts on the topics they want to teach. Our kid has learned about respect for life and is gaining not only important life skills like cooking, navigating outdoors, and gardening, but also more confidence in their abilities. Our kid’s emotional intelligence has increased along with their coping skills. We noticed that their vocabulary and articulation skills also improved through the creative play/learning style of the school. We appreciate that the school’s intention is to work with the families to address the challenges that children face through their educational journey. We were very excited to join the community and have not been disappointed!” PSS Dad Gabriel Martinez - Software Developer.
Some classrooms have a waitlist, there is availability for applicants for grades 1-6.
“We welcome families who would not have access due to financial reasons and for families that do not have access to a vehicle, our scholarships can cover taxis,” said Thompson.
For more information or to arrange a tour contact Executive Director Sara Joy Zimmerman firstname.lastname@example.org or Indigenous Advocate email@example.com.