KiHS - the new First
Nations High School reaching across NAN Visit
Story published in the Feb 7, 2002 Wawatay News
By : Keewaytinook Okimakanak Staff Contribution
If you stay in the north,
how do you ever get to meet people from other places? You meet them
online, of course.
Learning at home is what
youth in KiHS classrooms have chosen to do. Rather than leaving
their families and "going away" to school, they are staying
at home to work. KiHS (the Keewaytinook Internet High School) and
their community leaders are helping them have this choice.
The community KiHS classroom
is a space identified by community leaders. It is "wired"
for Internet access, and is staffed by a trained teacher and a community
computer technician. One of the student's courses is taught by the
onsite teacher, - although the lessons come to the students via
the Internet. Other KiHS teachers in similar First Nation classrooms
teach the other courses that a KiHS student takes.
Students in provincial
schools sometimes have trouble getting good access to a computer.
However, KiHS students have access on a 1:1 basis. "Outsiders
were afraid that KiHS students could not handle the computers,"
reports one KiHS teacher. "On the contrary, I have learned
lots of quick computer tricks from the students in my classroom."
This year, students in
Cat Lake, Fort Severn, Frenchman's Head, Keewaywin, Kejick Bay and
Slate Falls have welcomed the KiHS program. KiHS is in its second
year of operation. It is regularly trying new ideas to make learning
via computer user friendly but still give students provincially
This semester, KiHS is
trying condensed courses to accommodate learners who have bursts
of high energy and concentration. Students take only two courses
at a time for nine weeks. Within 2 ½ months, they can earn
two credits towards their secondary school diploma.
Grade 9 is now soundly
established. A core of successful students who have completed the
grade 9 program continue to live in their communities. When one
was asked why he didn't carry on his education, he replied, "I'm
waiting for grade 10 KiHS to arrive." The school hopes to meet
his needs in September, 2002 with a full grade 10 program.
KiHS is ideal for the
small community that otherwise could only afford one teacher at
the high school level. With KiHS, students get the expertise of
many teachers. The use of the computer is a spin-off benefit. Students
who are avid hunters or who believe in remaining with their extended
family also get maximum benefit from the latest information technology.
It is the best of both worlds.
While financial administration
of the high school is under the auspices of Keewaytinook Okimakanak,
direction for the high school increasingly falls in the hands of
a steering committee composed of one member from each participating
community. Meeting Ministry of Education guidelines is a basic premise
of the program. HOW it effectively accomplishes that is a task requiring
ongoing input from the steering committee. The committee works to
help accommodate youth who will be the community's leaders of tomorrow.
KiHS is now looking for
additional partner communities for the 2002-2003 school year. With
more communities becoming part of the KiHS team, the opportunities
for more course offerings increase. Partnering communities need
to identify a classroom and teacherage, ensure availability of gymnasium
time and bussing where required, and provide support in keeping
students on time and on task
Funding provided to KiHS
through INAC is used to provide computer and related equipment,
locate and pay for a trained teacher, and provide an infrastructure
and program acceptable to the provincial Ministry of Education.
Students appear to perform
best when support is evident from a variety of directions including
their home, their community and the information technology which
allows them doorways to the world. KiHS enables parents and youth
to grow together, building capacity in the technologies that are
a "must" in tomorrow's world.
Possible Pictures for
this article are:
Map showing the 2001-2002
KiHS classroom and office sites
Bob Nault visiting the
KiHS classroom in Keewaywin First Nation
Marlene McKay and her
KiHS class at Frenchman's Head