Different paths to learning

Marymound has created a specialized learning centre called Pathways on Henderson Highway in Winnipeg that provides support for Marymound School students to make easier transitions in a setting that encourages goal-focused learning and planning.

“We recognized that a group of Marymound students from grades 9 to 12 didn’t require the same intense level of support that others did, yet these students still didn’t feel comfortable that a traditional public high school would service their needs,” says Rhett Turner, Marymound School Principal. “The Pathways learning centre addresses their unique needs through an enrollment with a 1:4 teacher/student ratio while being very aware of a student’s mental health history, home life and behavioural struggles – much of what brought them to Marymound School in the first place.”

Enrollment for up to 12 students is open for students in care at Marymound, along with students from other school divisions who struggle with traditional learning methods and mainstream school settings. ”Right now we have three students from Seven Oaks, two from St. James, five from Winnipeg School Division #1, and one from Marymound,” says Jean McLeod, Teacher/Program Coordinator.

Pathways guides students from grade nine all the way up to 19 years of age with different individualized needs. Some study strictly academics, others are choosing volunteering/work experience, while some are opting for work experience with academics. “Students are in different places and through creative usage of courses that follow the Manitoba Education curriculum we are able to meet their individualized needs,” says McLeod.

Pathways has a full-time work experience advisor who works with students to connect them with local businesses, agencies and community organizations. Students are supported in finding placements connected to their own career goals and their interests to learn employability skills and build their confidence in the community. Students are supported in their work experience environment with one-to-one job coaching and regular contact with workplace supervisors. Career exploration is an important component for all students, with the goal of helping them decide their future career paths.

During most afternoons, students are offered opportunities to go out into the community with staff to explore industries, museums, parks, shopping for our lunch program and wellness opportunities (YMCA, recreational activities, and nature-related exploration). It provides balance to their learning day helping to make their school experience more positive.

Students work independently on credits that will help them achieve their high school goals of a regular or mature diploma. Credits are earned through a variety of methods with a focus on project-based learning, numeracy and literacy and experiential learning. “Because of low enrollment and number of staff, we are able to take them to work or enable volunteer experiences as well as earning credits off-campus. We wouldn’t have the capacity to do this in a traditional larger classroom setting,” says McLeod.

Some students may graduate high school from Pathways, while others may go to an adult learning centre and stay until age 21 to get a mature diploma. “We try to keep students engaged with a goal and that’s the reason for the name Pathways, as there are many paths a student can pursue to achieve their diploma or other goals.”