The City Central Learning Centre is a small secondary school providing educational opportunities for students identified as alternate or alternative, who are completing courses in grades 10, 11 and/or 12, in order to meet the requirements necessary for graduation.
Our students are a diverse group with complex backgrounds, and comprise a wide range of abilities, gifts and talents. One commonality amongst the students is that most have not been successful in mainstream schools for myriad of reasons. Our purpose is to nurture these inherent abilities and passions of our students, to reduce stressors and increase joy and thereby change the narrative of their stories, from one of ongoing struggles to one of success.
Education is a “contact” sport; the young brain is designed to develop, grow and “flourish in a social context” (C. Elders, Clinical Psychologist), and establishing positive relationships is a foundational feature of our learning centre. Capture the heart, and it is easier to engage the hands and the brain. Our students need the support of our staff and their peers to help them discover their passions, their voices and build on their strengths. Students work closely with an understanding and flexible staff, who provide our learners with a more student-centred self -directed program. With support focused on diverse learning, emotional and social needs of each student, pathways are created to achieve their educational goals. The spirit of our school culture is one of hope and belonging where all students feel safe, support and valued; where equity is woven into the fabric of what we do, and where student voices are activated.
COVID has had an adverse affect on the educational journey, and the well-being of many youth. With the intake of numerous Grade 10 students across the learning centres, it has become evident that the pandemic has interrupted not only the intellectual development of these youth, but perhaps more importantly, their social emotional development. “Carla Elfers, a Vancouver clinical youth psychologist, said generation Z is struggling just as much from how the pandemic has reduced social contact, volunteer activities and extracurricular events as it has from the disarray in their formal academic studies.” (‘In the Dark’ – Douglas Todd Vancouver Sun, Jan 29, 2022). The last “normal year” for the students in Grade 10, was pre-COVID and data shows that many are deficient in the grade 8 and 9 core courses. According to Elfers, for students who were in grade 8 when COVID hit in March 2020 things “might be the toughest”. COVID interrupted a very critical development period in the lives of these students. “That three-grade period is crucial for developing close friendships, a sense of purpose and resilience, which Elfers said is important to have in place before the big push to figure out your path in higher education and work”.
Students who are personally aware and responsible, recognize how their decisions and actions affect their mental, physical, emotional, social, and cognitive wellness and take increasing responsibility for caring for themselves (Albert Bandura, Psychologist). Students who have strong self-efficacy participate more in class, work harder, persist longer and have fewer adverse emotional reactions when encountering difficulties. They are able to manage stress and express a sense of well-being. Below, we celebrate our learners successes and strengths in the areas of:
We want our learners to understand that their decision and choices affect themselves and others around them. By developing their competencies in the areas of self-awareness and self management, they will be able to approach their goals, tasks and challenges with a positive mindset, and this in turn will lead to a greater engagement in their learning and personal development. This will be demonstrated through their exploration of their personal and cultural identities as they develop their communication skills.
For vulnerable youth especially, who are often already behind their peers, due to disengagement and absenteeism, COVID has amplified all of this. This gap in the social emotional development of our grade 10 youth has highlighted the need to a focus on SEL, particularly the core competency of Personal Awareness and Responsibility. This will be demonstrated through their exploration of their personal and cultural identities as they develop their communication skills.
Our students are developing their self awareness and self management skills and capacities by exploring and describing factors that shape personal identities, including social and cultural factors. They have demonstrated their ability to:
We see that developing our learners skillsets in self awareness and self management is valuable. We are noticing our students progressing in their understanding of themselves and how this connects to their interactions with others (self-regulation), our school (belonging), and their future (hope).
We will continue to build on this work in the following ways: