New learning centre set to open in fall

A new learning centre geared for students aged 12 to 19 years is set to open in the fall.

A new learning centre geared for students aged 12 to 19 years is set to open in the fall.

The Tsawalk Program aims to provide students not currently engaged in school, or at risk of being so due to social, or behavioural challenges, a place to learn. The program is a community partnership between Nanaimo Aboriginal Centre, Mid-Island Metis Association, the Boys and Girls Club of Central Vancouver Island and the Vancouver Island West School District.

Students will attend the Tsawalk Learning Centre, situated on #1-1559 Estevan Road.

“We’re trying to bring (students) back in off of flexible hours, wraparound services, youth counsellors, other kinds of outreach, but still focus on academics and help them get their credits to complete their dogwood (diploma),” said James Lemmon, program vice-principal.

Lemmon says the children will do individual learning plans and based on their needs, they will come in as needed to fulfill requirements of their program.

“For some students because they may have other obligations or need less frequent schooling, they might want to just take two credits, and so they figure out they want to take history and [physical education] and we set them on a course to achieve those credits for the fall semester,” said Lemmon.

The program is a full-day program which runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., although students will only be required to attend as per individual program requirements.

The curriculum will infuse daily activities with indigenous cultures, including including Nuuchalnuth, Salish, Kwakwaka’wakw and Metis.

Nanaimo school district said it is aware of the program, but isn’t a part of it.

The district is aware of the Nanaimo Learning Centre’s presence in the community. Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools will continue to enrich the education experience for its Aboriginal students as well as further enhancing Aboriginal education for all of its students,” said Superintendent John Blain in an email.

Tsawalk is Nuuchalnuth and translates roughly to “we are one, all connected.”

An open house will be held Tuesday (Aug. 23) at Estevan Road site at 3 p.m.

For more information, please contact Lemmon at 250-591-2900 or at jlemmon@viw.sd84.bc.ca.