New program marries public training, Mennonite tradition

New program marries public training, Mennonite tradition

Bridges, a brand new Thames Valley District college board pilot program for Low German-speaking Mennonite schoolkids, has been so standard with mother and father, it has outgrown two lecture rooms and can develop into a 3rd.

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A few of these pupils have by no means been to highschool earlier than.

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Others could have attended a Bible-based church college or studied at residence.

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And plenty of have by no means spoken something apart from Low German.

Bridges, a brand new Thames Valley District college board pilot program for Low German-speaking Mennonite schoolkids, has been so standard with mother and father, it has outgrown two lecture rooms and can develop into a 3rd.

Forty-nine pupils are enrolled now and extra are on their method. Half-time college students additionally pop in from different elements of the college day by day to share within the pupils’ cultural traditions.

“Phrase of mouth has unfold (information of this system) nicely,” stated Tim Coombs, principal of Straffordville elementary college. Straffordville is about 20 kilometres east of Aylmer in Elgin County,

This system additionally has two lessons at Summers’ Corners elementary, close to Aylmer, he stated.

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Bridges, a new Thames Valley District school board pilot program for Low German-speaking Mennonite pupils at elementary schools in Straffordville and Summers Corners, has proven popular with parents. (Heather Rivers/The London Free Press)
Bridges, a brand new Thames Valley District college board pilot program for Low German-speaking Mennonite pupils at elementary colleges in Straffordville and Summers Corners, has confirmed standard with mother and father. (Heather Rivers/The London Free Press)

Southwestern Ontario is residence to many numerous Mennonite communities, starting from the Horse and Buggy Outdated Order to Conservative to different. Numerous Mennonites within the Aylmer space are Low-German-speaking Mennonites.

The Thames Valley board estimates solely about 10 per cent of Low German college students in east Elgin County, about 1,500 pupils, attend board colleges.

On the coronary heart of the Bridges program is the hope that Mennonites, usually reluctant to ship their youngsters to public colleges, could change their minds after they see how this system embraces their cultural roots with, for instance, college days that open with the Lord’s Prayer and Bible readings.

Isaak Hildebrandt, 12, stated his Low German-speaking mother and father have been “super-excited” about him with the ability to attend public college and nonetheless have a Christian-based training.

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“I learn the Bible and lead the scripture readings (in my classroom),” he stated.

The pupils, with assist from Low German-speaking academics and a translator, are celebrating Mexican Mennonite Week, marking 200 years since Mennonite households first got here to Canada from Europe

“We’re attempting to honour their residing expertise, the cultures and abilities of our college students and household,” Coombs stated.

“The mother and father are seeing the worth of studying English and the tutorial curriculum we’ve got. They’re additionally seeing the worth of integration and socialization with different college students who aren’t Mennonite.”

As soon as taking part pupils full Grade 8, they’d be “bridged” to highschool, which many East Elgin Mennonites have by no means attended.

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Pupils can also take depart – bringing college work with them – to go to kin in Mexico or assist their households with farm work or different duties.

They’re graded via exams, initiatives and shows, Coombs stated.

“We’re attempting to interrupt down the boundaries which have been on this space historically,” Coombs stated. “We’re in a position to present public training to them, which our college students in Ontario obtain, however they’re additionally persevering with with their private tradition.

“They’re getting the very best of each worlds.”

Main instructor Jessica Dyck, who grew up close to Alymer in a Low German household, loves how this system lets siblings keep collectively creating “little households in our lecture rooms.”

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“I really like the group as a result of our tradition’s focus is on the household,” she stated. “You see the sense of loving and caring for one another.”

For a lot of of her pupils, it’s their first time in a classroom, she stated. “Some have by no means attended college in any respect.”

The hope is that in the future, program pupils will transfer on to East Elgin secondary college, the place they’d proceed to work with academics to earn highschool diplomas, whereas nonetheless adjusting their studying schedule to accommodate household actions.

“They shift instances so the youngsters can miss per week or two at starting or at finish of yr,” Coombs stated. “They do some studying on-line or outdoors the standard studying hours if they’re wanted on their household farms.”

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Twitter.com/HeatheratLFP


What Mennonite pupils stated

“I really like all the things. We love studying collectively.” – Anna Peters, 8

“I really like prayer and devotion and our little buddies (part-time college students) who come to our classroom.” – Keegan Teichroeb, 9

“Within the Bridges program you possibly can pray with individuals we all know.” – Selena Klassen, 12

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