John Barsby Community Secondary School SD#68 Nanaimo-Ladysmith

I. General Information

School Name: John Barsby Community Secondary School

School District: SD#68 Nanaimo-Ladysmith

Inquiry Team Members: Natalie Sorensen:
Jacob Thom:
Val White:
Annette Favelle:
Theresa Kraeker:
Holly Knox:

Inquiry Team Contact Email:

II. Inquiry Project Information

Grade Levels Addressed Through Inquiry: Secondary (8-12)

Curricular Areas Addressed: Not applicable

Focus Addressed: Transitions

In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? Does creating a sense of belonging and self for Indigenous students in grades 8-9, have an impact on remaining in their home school and successful grade to grade transitions in grades 10-12?

III. Spirals of Inquiry Details

Scanning: We saw that a disproportionate number of Indigenous students were being referred to a Learning Alternatives program, being referred to the Adult Dogwood program, or simply leaving school without graduating. In addition, we saw under representation of Indigenous students in higher level senior academics (Physics 12, Chemistry 12, Calculus 12 and Pre Calculus 12), instead opting for Workplace Math and Earth Science as the path to graduation.

Focus: We want to tightly connect our Indigenous students to our school and create a deeper sense of belonging to the John Barsby community. We want our Indigenous students to stay with us from the moment they enter our building as grade 8 students, to when they exit our building after having successfully crossed the stage at the end of grade 12.

Hunch: Despite a large Indigenous presence in our student population, we noticed there is little (but now growing) representation of culture, art or language. Of note is the lack of equity thinking. Little consideration has been given to shining a spotlight on supporting the needs of our Indigenous students, differently.

In addition, it was noted that some staff expressed limiting assumptions on why one grad path was chosen over another. We have not yet begun to help staff uncover other limiting assumptions they may have – and purposefully challenge or pull apart, that thinking.

New Professional Learning: Denise Augustine, Kevin Lamoureux and Jo Chrona provided powerful insights that helped us reflect deeply and make strong connections. Kevin Lamoureux presented virtually to our district during a Professional Development day, this year. His time with us was both inspiring and motivating.

Some excerpts from Jo Chrona’s upcoming book Wayi Way! were gifted to one of our team members through a program they are taking – with the book release coming in September. This work had, and will have, a profound impact on our thinking about how to support moving our adult staff forward.

Taking Action: Peer mentoring: Our school is grades 8-12, and in May of each year we begin working with our grade 7 teachers to collect information that will support the grade 7 –> 8 transition process. We took a look at the information shared about our new Indigenous students and highlighted 24 students who were identified as students who were already missing a connection to school, shown through higher absenteeism. We then looked to our successful and confident senior Indigenous students to ask them if they would be a Peer Mentor to these junior students. Everyone was interested in participating, and so each senior student has two junior students they’re paired with.

Next year, we plan to bring the larger group together once a month for some community building time. The senior students will also receive school cafeteria gift cards, so they can take their younger student to lunch every once in a while. Finally, these Peer Mentor groups will serve as a way to informally check in and support our junior students, throughout the year.

Successful Role Models and Community Partnerships: We will support our Indigenous students who are in grades 10-12 by showcasing local role models. There are many successful, local, Indigenous adults in our community who we will invite to share their story with our students.

Checking: This work is planned for next school year.

Reflections/Advice: We are in the first year of a three year inquiry.