Sackville Schools 2020 & why Sackville needs to be a learning community
Sackville is a wonderful place to live and work and it is important to recognize that the central economic and cultural driving force in our community is the educational opportunity offered here, from pre-school to high school, as well as post-secondary, seniors, and other lifelong learners. At a very practical level though, the Sackville system of schools, as well as Mount Allison, as a publicly funded university, act in silos and do not often collaborate in creating a learning community. While they tend to act independently, they have many of the same challenges. In terms of student numbers, all levels of these organizations are shrinking. Their separate buildings and structures are aging rapidly – some are crumbling before our eyes and students are asking for better places to learn. Furthermore, there is a disconnect between these types of traditional, dated schools and what is required for 21st Century learning, where teachers can be inspiring and students can be inspired. The Sackville Schools 2020 movement has been working to support educators and students through a vision that sees children thrive and reach their full potential within an advanced learning community that is supported by a modern, state of the art, environmentally-healthy system of facilities and practices. The province, the town and the educational institutions are currently reviewing their strategic plans and this is why we feel we must act now. We believe that Sackville can become a learning community.
Formed in the fall of 2015, Sackville Schools 2020 is an open, collaborative group of concerned community members that have been meeting with students, parents, teachers and principals. We have also been discussing our vision with the District Education Council, the School Division, the Department of Education, the Town of Sackville, and Mount Allison University in achieving our goal of developing Sackville as a model of exceptional, innovative and integrated learning based on our role as a learning community. Our plan for 2020 is that Sackville will be a place that supports educators in inspiring children, young adults and lifelong learners and, in turn, our innovative, community-based model will attract families and businesses to our town. We believe that there is no other community in New Brunswick with the potential to be transformed in this way at this time, given our size, the high number of well-trained educators and professionals, as well as a broad range of individuals dedicated to bringing about change.
The Sackville learning community model has already had a very positive reception by community and business leaders, educators and educational leaders, as well as government officials charged with developing a 10-year education plan for the province. What we have heard is that Sackville has long been recognized as a centre for innovation in education. We hope to capitalize on this strength and lead by example in renewing our educational landscape and energizing our community through this new model to support teaching and learning. We see education as a key community development strategy and we want to see Sackville on the leading edge of change, rather than waiting for the inevitable sustainability studies and rationalization reports that view students as unfortunate casualties in the downsizing of the province.
Given the financial challenges of New Brunswick, these ideas and proposed changes would certainly provide for enormous efficiencies in operating our educational facilities, moving from three, separate and aging schools to perhaps one, unified learning campus integrated with existing structures at Mount Allison and the larger community (parks, libraries, museums, town hall, etc.). We are investigating the possibility of public-private partnership agreements (P3) for the development of our learning community, as well as integrated efforts between the Departments of Education, Post-Secondary Education and Training, and Supply and Services NB. Many creative ideas and proposed solutions are being considered and we will continue to invite all those who are interested in supporting our children through the enhancement of education to join our movement. Additional information and community collaborative meetings will be announced in the weeks and months ahead.