Students ceremonially graduated from Connect Charter School last night. The 100 members of Grade Nine walked the stage at this school where “It’s never just an ordinary day.” One of their school friends was with them in spirit and we all thought of you, Natasha. The Grade 9 teachers, Mr. Patrick Tam, Ms. Jaime Groeller, Ms. Cynthia Nilsson, and Mr. Jason Avramenko addressed their soon-to-leave students with affection, funny stories and nice challenges to keep on learning. Mrs. Chomistek, School Superintendent, who has been a magnificent inspiration to the hearts and minds of this school, on one of her last official duties before retiring, recognized the huge variety of talents that are soon to move on from the school. Susan, you will be sadly missed.
As the Chairman of the Board of Directors, Dave Robinson put it, “Connect’s dirty little secret” is true. There are fabulous, dedicated and enthusiastic teachers at this charter school in Calgary, Alberta, Canada and this is my shout out to you for your creativity, inspiration and educational direction to bring on these young talents and prepare them to be extraordinary, and sustainable, citizens of the world.
You made the school an inclusive place: a part of the community in our city, our country and the world. Everyone was an engaged and active partner-the caretaking and office staff, teachers and Principal, Dr. Phil Butterfield. You bought a fleet of bicycles, and used them to go on swimming trips and a journey all the way downtown via the cycle pathway network. You brought in long-boards to put a different spin on sports education. And a greenhouse was constructed and a gardening club formed to revitalize links with the soil and growing plants-something that has sadly withered away from the educational system at large. You put solar panels on the roof and a garden to commemorate Natasha Gould’s life is underway. Your highly organized field trips gave our young people real encounters with the natural and urban world, whether out at Benfield on Vancouver Island for marine biology, down on the streets of Calgary or under canvas in Kananaskis Country. In the classroom (just a couple of examples here), Mr. Avramenko inspired a closer and critical attention to current affairs of the world on a daily basis. Mr. Chang made more than sense of electricity; he made it exciting!
Grade Nine students, you have just three PATs left then it’s out and on (after a well-earned summer break), to your chosen high schools where you can apply your carefully honed learning skills to enjoy and manage more curricula adventures. Connect Charter School, thank you for providing quality education for our children over the past six years, something that we, as parents, voters and taxpayers should not take for granted (see below).
Photographs from graduation 2018
Please see this link to J. Ashley Nixon Photography for more images from the 2018 graduation ceremony at Connect Charter School.
Connecting with Quality Education in the World
The United Nations established a set of 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) in 2015 which frame the global agenda for sustainable development through to 2030. Quality Education (Goal 4) is to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.
Connect Charter School have clearly exceeded that mission for its own students and, through continued active support for student teachers, pedagogic research and collaborations can support other efforts to achieve this goal in Canada and around the world. Progress on SDG 4 was last reported in 2017. Please take a few moments to see some of the ongoing challenges, especially in sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia and for vulnerable populations, including persons with disabilities, indigenous people, refugee children and poor children in rural areas:
- In 2014, about 2 in 3 children worldwide participated in pre-primary or primary education in the year prior to official entry age for primary school. However, in the least developed countries, the ratio was only 4 in 10.
- Despite considerable gains in education enrolment over the past 15 years, worldwide, the adjusted net enrolment rates were 91 per cent for primary education, 84 per cent for lower secondary education and 63 per cent for upper secondary education in 2014. About 263 million children and youth were out of school, including 61 million children of primary school age. Sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia account for over 70 per cent of the global out-of school population in primary and secondary education.
- Even though more children than ever are going to school, many do not acquire basic skills in reading and mathematics. Recent learning assessment studies show that in 9 of 24 sub-Saharan African countries and 6 of 15 Latin American countries with data, fewer than half of the students at the end of primary education had attained minimum proficiency levels in mathematics. In 6 of 24 sub-Saharan African countries with data, fewer than half of the students who finished their primary schooling had attained minimum proficiency levels in reading.
- Equity issues constitute a major challenge in education according to a recent assessment. In all countries with data, children from the richest 20 per cent of households achieved greater proficiency in reading at the end of their primary and lower secondary education than children from the poorest 20 per cent of households. In most countries with data, urban children scored higher in reading than rural children.
- The lack of trained teachers and the poor condition of schools in many parts of the world are jeopardizing prospects for quality education for all. Sub -Saharan Africa has a relatively low percentage of trained teachers in pre -primary, primary and secondary education (44 per cent, 74 per cent and 55 per cent, respectively). Moreover, the majority of schools in the region do not have access to electricity or potable water.
- On the basis of data from 65 developing countries, the average percentage of schools with access to computers and the Internet for teaching purposes is above 60 per cent in both primary and secondary education. However, the share is less than 40 per cent in more than half of sub-Saharan countries with data.
- Official development assistance (ODA) for scholarships amounted to $1 billion in 2015, a decrease from $1.2 billion in 2014. Australia, France and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland were the largest contributors.