Students & teachers thrive in spaces that inspire a love of learning
April 28th was a very snowy day, yet five members of Sackville Schools 2020 followed the sun to tour three very beautiful schools in rural Nova Scotia, all built through what is known as a public-private-partnership, or P3. For many months now, we have been researching various approaches to education and the types of places where effective teaching and learning takes place. It is no secret that the most effective schools are places that are bright, clean, functional, and warm and, students and teachers thrive when they are there. Many places across North America have been approaching educational facilities in alternative ways to simply waiting in line for the provincial or state government band-aid approach to distributing dwindling amounts of tax money to patch a roof, renovate or fix a leak, or solve a health and safety issue, in the aging stock of schools under their jurisdiction. Some school districts and governments have committed to the highest of standards for their schools as an investment in the future and a continued commitment to public education as a right for all citizens.
We were very fortunate to have met Mr. Kirk MacCulloch, a development consultant with Nova Learning Centres in Halifax. His company has designed and built 39 schools across the province of Nova Scotia and he invited us to come and tour the facilities, speak with Principals and teachers and to see teaching and learning in action. Our eyes were certainly opened to the kinds of learning environments we had only imagined here in Sackville – yet there they were, in existence since 1999, just a few hours away. We were able to visit three schools of our choosing, so we selected an elementary school, a middle/high school and a larger regional high school in areas that are in largely rural parts of the province – in Lantz, Milford, and Canning, Nova Scotia. The Principals were most welcoming, allowing us to tour the schools from top to bottom, see classes in action, and answer our questions on all aspects of life in their schools. What struck us the most was hearing from each Principal that students and teachers “love being here” and that their schools are “warm, caring places to teach and learn.”
Meeting with representatives from Nova Learning Centres and local school officials allowed us to generate some great ideas on how our community might work with the Anglophone East School Division, the Department of Education and officials in Sackville in creating schools that meet the needs of 21st Century Learning, as well as increasing the efficiency and sustainability of our educational infrastructure. We certainly returned to Sackville with a sense of urgency and a feeling that our students and teachers deserve better places… ones that can inspire a love of learning!