Over the front entrance of the new addition to St. Mary’s First Nation community school is the Maliseet phrase Wasisok Tomk, meaning Kids Come First. This theme is truly evident as you tour the new addition, which has doubled the school’s size.
Calming interior colours, wide bright corridors, large windows allowing for an abundance of natural light, large functional classrooms (each with access to a breakout room for one-on-one or small group instruction), large well-equipped play areas for the K3 and K4 programs, and gathering areas for community engagement make for a wonderful teaching and learning environment.
Principal Allison Brooks speaks with pride and passion of his students, staff, school and community. He describes the evolution of Chief Harold Sappier Memorial Elementary School (CHSMES), Sitansisk in Maliseet, over the last five years, as phenomenal.
CHSMES provides educational programs and services to 150 community children, daycare through grade five, with a professional staff of 25. Among the staff is a Physical Education specialist who provides each class with 150 minutes of physical education per week. Culturally, the children receive 150 minutes per week of instruction in the Maliseet language delivered by two First Nation language specialists. The school also has a full-time Methods and Resource teacher, an Early Years specialist and a mathematics lead.
Principal Brooks emphasizes that teamwork and the development of the whole child is the goal of CHSMES. One indication that this approach is paying off is the success of the school in the Provincial Assessment Program. CHSMES students are performing above the provincial average in literacy.
In a future edition of this newsletter, we will describe more of the programs and services available to the students of CHSMES and their parents.