Rural Reflections

This is the first post in a series of student reflections about living and teaching in a rural setting.

Learn ~ Live ~ Love … Lucerne

Do parents really move from across BC to the tiny Kootenay village of New Denver on the placid shores of the Slocan Lake so their children can go to Lucerne School? Apparently, though the numbers are small, the answer is yes, and for good reason. As a student teacher I am absolutely enthralled by what this small, but far from modest, rural school offers its students.

For the past four years Terry Taylor’s secondary English students and Gary Parkstrom’s Social Studies students have spent a week each year making documentaries under the expert guidance of award-winning, Vancouver filmmaker Moira Simpson. This is place-based learning at its best. The subject matter has ranged from the story of the Doukhobor – Russian émigrés who settled in the area – to an examination of the internment of Japanese Canadians in New Denver during the Second World War. This year’s project: “A Place of Peace and Belonging” – a look at the unique culture of the valley the school is set in which is home to many US war resistors, pacifists and individuals of every persuasion.

The Grades 7 to 9 all get to study Outdoor Education. It is also available as an elective for Grades 10 to 12. It includes all the life skills one might need in the wilderness (with a little bit of recreation thrown in for good measure) like First Aid, Mountain Survival Skills, Canoe and Kayak skills, Mountain Biking and Parks and Recreation Management. During the week-long Fall and Spring into Learning events each year, at least one of the choices is an outdoor environmental experience. Students can choose from glacier hikes, paddle the lake, study “Mountains as Teachers” across cultures and history, or learn to about fish and wildlife in different ecosystems — all on the doorstep of the school.

Then there is just the sheer range of subjects available or as Lucerne says on its website, “No matter what course the student needs, we can find a way to offer it!!!” So maybe that is what impressed me most … the can-do attitude of the school, of the teachers, of the students and of the parents. Lucerne School is a community of leaders, learners and friends. No more, and certainly no less.

Jane Hicks, WKTEP Teacher Candidate, 2012-13