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Continuing partnership to benefit local learners

WORKING TOGETHER - Representatives from Red Deer College along with seven local school divisions gathered Wednesday to renew their ongoing partnership called Learning Pathways in Central Alberta, a memorandum of understanding between the eight organizations. 

 - Mark Weber/Red Deer Express
WORKING TOGETHER - Representatives from Red Deer College along with seven local school divisions gathered Wednesday to renew their ongoing partnership called Learning Pathways in Central Alberta, a memorandum of understanding between the eight organizations.
— image credit: Mark Weber/Red Deer Express
Renewing partnership that is reaping positive results for local students, representatives from Red Deer College and seven local school divisions gathered recently to mark the ongoing teamwork created through Learning Pathways in Central Alberta.

It’s a ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ between the eight organizations.

The partnership was first formalized in 2013, when the original Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed by Chinook’s Edge School Division, Clearview School Division, Prairie Land School Division, Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools, Red Deer College, Red Deer Public School District, Wild Rose Public School Division and Wolf Creek School Division.

Yesterday’s signing ceremony represented a renewal of the MOU and a continued commitment to the partnership by all organizations, officials said.

“This partnership focuses on supporting and providing opportunities for learners in Central Alberta, and this is something we are all very passionate about,” said Joel Ward, RDC president and CEO. “By working together, we’re providing pathways to help students complete their high school education and transition to post-secondary.”

“This is an important partnership between Red Deer College and seven school districts from across Central Alberta,” said Paulette Hanna, vice president of academic with RDC. “In my role at RDC, I see the tremendous value of this partnership from both a secondary and a post-secondary perspective,” she added.

“By working together, we are helping to promote life-long learning, and to ensure that students have every opportunity to complete high school and then transition onto post-secondary.”

As mentioned, the partnership was originally formalized back in 2013.

“The agreement recognized the need to enhance learning opportunities in the region and this opportunity was embraced by each of the partners. Together, we looked for innovative delivery methods and opportunities to increase completion rates for high school students, and to increase participation rates at the post-secondary level,” she explained.

“This partnership also focuses on supporting and providing opportunities for learners in Central Alberta.”

Examples include the ‘School Within A College’ program which allows students to complete high school while they work on their first-year apprenticeship in a trade.

Colleen Butler, Chinook’s Edge board chair, said that some of the students involved would not have been able to land their high school diplomas without the program.

“This ‘School Within A College’ supports high school students in getting their diplomas while at the same time they are working on - and often completing - their first year of apprenticeship in a trade.

“All of the dual credit programming is allowing our students to achieve higher levels of success while they’re still in high school and it is increasing the likelihood that they will transition to post-secondary,” she said, adding there are also opportunities for educational assistants to achieve further education at RDC without interrupting their work in the schools.

“Eighty of our EAs have participated in the College program to work toward an educational assistant diploma,” she said. “This program is highly effective in our strategy for addressing complexities in the classroom, and also allowing our staff to continue with life-long learning,” she said.

Another example is the successful Reading College, where young students at the Grade 2 level come to RDC to work on their reading skills over the summer months. “The results are phenomenal - they not only get to grade level, they surpass grade level,” said Ward.

“We’re honoured to do these kinds of things, whether it’s School Within a College, Reading College or Summer Series that we have here on campus, or the band camps or the athletic camps where kids from all over the province and Central Alberta come and spend the summer. It’s absolutely phenomenal.

“There’s much more we can do, much more we should do and there is much more that we are going to do.”

Meanwhile, building on the success of the previous MOU, the eight partners will continue working to find programming options for students. “The renewal of this Memorandum of Understanding demonstrates how important it is for us to continue to collaborate for the benefit of our learners,” said Morris Flewwelling, chair of RDC’s board of governors.

“Supporting students by providing multiple pathways for them to achieve success benefits all of Central Alberta.”

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