The Sieur-de-Coulonge school in Outaouais achieved a great feat: although students and staff had to face real tragedies during the pandemic, the institution experienced the best progress of the Palmarès des the newspaperthanks to the support programs that allowed him to overcome this crisis.
“We are starting this year as normal as possible and it has been a long time since we started normally”, he says at the beginning of the interview for the newspaper school principal, Julie Martin.
In recent years, the school has experienced its own severe tragedies. In the midst of the pandemic, one employee took his own life. The other died of natural causes, while the student died of illness. Finally, the survey showed that more than a third of the students had thought about suicide in the last 12 months.
The situation was so critical that a work team from the University of Quebec in Chicoutimi (UQAC) specializing in the impact of disasters on education decided to monitor the school for two years. The same team went to Lac-Mégantic after the 2013 train crash.
“We were able to make decisions based on the real needs (of our students) and not based on a study that would be conducted in a big city,” explains M.me Martin.
“We’re (now) reaping the rewards of what we’ve put in place over the last few years.”
Focus on electives
Several measures have been put in place to promote student achievement, meaning that since 2016 the Sieur-de-Coulonge school has gone from an overall rating of 2.4 out of 10 to 5.1, according to data calculated by the Fraser Institute.
Therefore, for approximately 300 students, the Sieur-de-Coulonge can now count on about sixty employees, including 4 specialists – an orthopedist, a rehabilitation agent and an academic training consultant – and 6 technicians for specialized education, a ratio of students per employee that could create people enviable.
In addition, the number of optional subjects has been doubled, and students take one a day. In order to achieve this, the administration of Sieur-de-Coulonge decided to bring together students of 3, 4 and 5 secondary schools with the same interests.
In addition, the school day now begins at 9am instead of 8:30am, to facilitate transportation for the various communities in the region.
“It’s still developing,” says the school’s principal. “It’s about thinking differently, but it all starts with the master schedule and staff involvement.”
The school focuses on proximity to the environment and a sense of belonging. Many teachers are former students, notes assistant principal Gabie Paré.
“When we find out that they enrolled in the humanities with the goal of becoming professors, we immediately take their phone number!” she says.
A French-speaking minority in an English-speaking area
The Sieur-de-Coulonge School, located on the border between Quebec and Ontario, seeks to promote French-speaking culture to the English-speaking majority by introducing them, in particular, to Yvon Deschamps.
Over the course of five years, the school’s French test results improved, especially thanks to the support of a group of students by the same teacher throughout the cycle.
“We’re a small school, so in the first cycle, the Middle School 1 teacher accompanies his students to Middle School 2 before returning to Middle School 1. So you have the same French and Maths teacher for two years,” explains the school’s deputy principal, Gabie Peel off.
The “Courier of Culture” project was also launched. Each week, two one-hour periods are reserved for the presentation of capsules prepared by teachers on French-speaking personalities.
“Our young people have a huge language insecurity and are stuck between two cultures,” stresses the school’s director, Julie Martin.
These capsules are used to show students that it is possible to “succeed in French”. Often coming from an English-speaking or bilingual environment, they struggle to find models of success in Molière’s language.
“At the end of the year, our 15 groups will know Yvon Deschamps, for example, illustrates M.me Martin. I am convinced that later, at English CEGEPs and universities, (our students) will be the ones to defend French!”