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School division wins public engagement award

Livingstone Range School Board chairman Dick Peterson

Livingstone Range School Board chairman Dick Peterson poses with the public engagement award the division recently won at the Alberta School Boards’ Association fall general meeting in Edmonton.

Livingstone Range School Division has been honoured with a provincial award.
Alberta School Boards Association president Heather Wellwood announced Nov. 22 the division had won the public engagement award for its plan to address the achievement gap for First Nation students.
New this year, the public engagement award recognizes the efforts of school boards to embrace public engagement as a method to inform, involve and gain input from stakeholders on school jurisdiction plans, programs and services.
“I personally would like to thank Stephen Harris (assistant to the superintendent) for the work he did and Ellie Elliott (superintendent) for all the work she did,” school board chairman Dick Peterson said.
In an interview after the board meeting, Peterson said he suspected the school division would win because they were seated near the front, and never are usually.
“It was exciting. Everybody cheered — the whole board was there,” Peterson said. “It was worthwhile. We’ve done a lot of work around community engagement.”
That work has included meetings with the Piikani and Kainai boards of education and presenting data showing aboriginal students are not doing as well as they could academically.
“They were interested in that data as well,” Peterson said.
The division also held focus groups on two occasions at F.P. Walshe school in Fort Macleod and Matthew Halton high school in Pincher Creek where they asked parents what they liked, disliked and wanted changed in their children’s educational experiences.
“We put them in groups and let them just talk,” Peterson said.
From that, the division created its First Nation, Métis and Inuit student achievement plan to address the issues identified.
“Like anything else, it’s about relationships,” Peterson said. “If kids feel they belong, they’re going to achieve.”
Nine jurisdictions were nominated with three winning the award.

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