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RDCRS off-campus education efforts ongoing

“We continue to experience growth in dual credit offerings and enrolment,” says Catholic schools superintendent
MVT kathleen finnigan 1
Kathleen Finnigan, Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools superintendent. Submitted photo

INNISFAIL - Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools (RDCRS) is continuing efforts to provide more students with blended post-secondary coarse opportunities, says superintendent Kathleen Finnigan.

“We continue to experience growth in dual credit offerings and enrolment,” Finnigan told trustees at the recent board meeting. “While COVID-19 has unarguably presented us with many challenges in education, we have seen positive outcomes as well through the development of asynchronous and blended post-secondary course offerings.”

The division is working to ensure that every student in the division has access to programming regardless of location, she said, noting that online learning that has sometimes been necessary during the pandemic has had positive outcomes.

“As a whole, our students have gained confidence through experience in navigating virtual learning spaces,” she said.

In her last report to the board for the 2020-21 school year, Finnigan said the division has partnered with several other rural schools divisions to develop cohort offerings and has been able to “negotiate the ability to fill unallocated seats in courses where obtaining a cohort standing may be unattainable.”

As a result, the division will be offering several new introductory courses next year in sports management, early learning, justice, precision agricultural technology, various sectors of the medical field as well as arts and sciences classes, she said.

Opportunities in health care aide, bookkeeping, supportive care aide, and trades exploration are also being examined, she said.

“These course would ensure students can get all or halfway through diploma courses which may be unattainable without this programming,” she said.

Chinook’s Edge School Division (CESD), which includes school through the region, is one of the other rural school divisions involved in partnering with RDCRS.

A $50,000 grant associated with dual-credit start-up funding has recently been obtained by the division, she said.

“We have earmarked this for developing partnerships and creating sustainability,” she said. 

Meanwhile, the division also continues to work with community partners to provide student opportunities, she said.

“This year, Careers Next Generation has introduced Youth Internship Program funding which is a financial incentive program for employers who create internships for youth,” she said. 

“We utilize our partnership with them to explore registered apprenticeship placements as well for our students, and as we look forward to the implications of Bill 67 for expanded apprenticeship-style education models, we are all placed to ensure our students can access these opportunities.”

The division has also partnered with the Enrichment Academy in a pilot to increase financial literacy, she said. 

“The teachers and students who utilized the program gave it high praise and as such we have partnered with them inn their bid to access the financial literacy grant funding so we can contuse to offer this highly-valued resource for our students,” she said.

The division recently partnered with the Calgary Board of Education, CESD, the Educational Partnership Foundation and Local 496 to offer four students the opportunity to explore the pipes trade field, she said.

“The students excelled and the instructor was impressed with the level of knowledge our students had entering the program, which is testament  to the strong instruction they received with  their Career and Technology Studies courses,” she said.

RDCRS includes schools in Innisfail and Olds.

Dan Singleton

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