WCPS among school divisions rewarded for initiative in student inclusion

A team of five school divisions, including Wolf Creek Public Schools (WCPS), has been awarded the coveted Premier’s Award for School Board

A team of five school divisions, including Wolf Creek Public Schools (WCPS), has been awarded the coveted Premier’s Award for School Board Innovation and Excellence in celebration of the radical Journeys Learning Program the group created.

Launched in 2013, WCPS helped develop the Journeys Learning Program for students aged 11 to 18. The program delivers a myriad of services beyond what a typical school would. This allows high-need students to develop past what their challenges would allow in a regular setting.

The students’ needs vastly differ from an average student behaviorally, mentally, health-wise and developmentally. Only after all other options and routes have been exhausted is a child referred to the Journeys Learning Program.

“This program is something that, if we all worked together, what would that look like,” said WCPS assistant superintendant of Inclusive Learning Services Amber Hester.

Located in Red Deer’s Alternative School Centre, the Journeys Learning Program employs an on-site administrator, teacher, social worker/mental health therapist and multiple educational assistants. “Students not just in Wolf Creek . . . require a variety of wrap-around services,” said Hester.

“Journey’s Program was developed and it is truly a cross-ministries effort,” she added.

The support areas from Alberta Health Services, Central Alberta Child and Family Services as well as education provide a specialized environment to help the students with the next transition of their lives. “It’s meant to be a temporary school,” said Hester.

There are 10 spots available in the program and it operates on a case by case basis.

“It was the five school divisions (Chinook’s Edge, Red Deer Catholic regional Schools, Red Deer Public Schools, Wild Rose School Division and WCPS) and all of the partners who came to the table . . . We all came together and said we’ve got a need, who can we address that need,” explained Hester.

“I’m really pleased when different departments and agencies come together to be solution focused,” she added.