High school embraces change

By CHARLES TWEED

Ponoka Composite High School (PCHS) presented its education plan to Wolf Creek School Division on Feb. 15.

Principal Ian Rawlinson, along with assistant principals Ron Rarick and Kathy McTaggart, provided a reflection of where the school has come from, where it is now, and where it is going in the future.

Right from the start, Rawlinson spoke to the fact there was one thing that wouldn’t change at PCHS.

Change, itself.

The principal emphasized how important the evolution of change is. The school had to continuously improve, adapt, and in some cases re-invent methods of teaching to ensure every kid at the school had an opportunity to succeed.

“Staff are living in the environment of continuous change and challenge. And it is hard to change how a traditional high school thinks. A traditional high school believes the student comes in and we teach them and it’s their responsibility whether they grab on and take hold of education or not,” said Rawlinson. “We believe, no, it’s our responsibility to make sure they grab on.”

PCHS is putting the onus on the system. Responsibility lies with the school, be it through teachers, administration, coaches or support staff. It is the job of the institution not to fail the student, not the other way around. Teachers must follow guidelines involving intervention steps with the students; in the past teachers were allowed to pass the problem off to the school administration.

“A teacher cannot come to us (administration) unless they’ve done some basic things both in the classroom and out of the classroom. Those are crucial intervention steps. Not good enough to say the kid hasn’t learned a damn thing,

if the teacher has made no attempt to differential instruction, some of the responsibility must fall back on them,” said Rawlinson.

The interventions focus on creating a collaborative culture to help support learning at all levels. They provide students with additional time and support for learning both inside and outside of the classroom to ensure standards are met.

Rawlinson had high praise for his staff and how they have ‘embraced’ the change. He spoke proudly discussing some of the growth and development the staff has undergone in the last few years.

Even the mission statement, “Putting ALL Learners on Winning Streaks” wasn’t safe.

“We are revisiting it as we speak, because we’re not exactly sure what a winning streak is, but we are 100 per cent sure what failure is. So we are thinking ‘Failure is not an option’ makes more sense to us,” said Rawlinson. “And it speaks when a parent comes and brings their kid here and we say at Ponoka Comp failure is not an option.”

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