North Memorial School is 'the' community school in Portage la Prairie, and Allison Lee, Outreach Facilitator, is heavily involved in its efforts. We took time to talk with her about a day in the life of a key member of a Community School.
She notes she started in that role in 2019, just before COVID hit, and says she works with parents and students.
"I provide programming for parents during the day and after-school programming for kids," says Lee. "Some of the things that I do with the parents is 'Make and Takes,' which is a program where they come in and are given a recipe. We make a meal for them to take home after school and they can have it with their family. I do a 'Coffee, Chat, and Craft.' Parents come in, we have a craft activity, and just sit around do a craft and visit with each other."
Lee explains another after-school program she's also been involved with includes an Art Club for the students.
"I have them broken into two groups. Tuesday nights are for grades 1 to 3, and Thursday after-school is Grades 4 to 6," continues Lee. "So, with the after-school Art Club, I have teachers that volunteer their time. They come in and help me out. And right now, with Grades 1 to 3, we are reading books based on art. And then we are drawing or painting, based on the book that we have read. With the after-school 4 to 6s, I'm doing a little more advanced stuff. We've done wooden wall hangings and some dot art. We've coloured plastic and then shrink it in the oven."
She notes she has one more week of art left which is going to be a surprise for the kids, so she saved that for the time she introduces it to them.
Lee also shares how she's engaged in after-school jigging.
"We have a teacher here who is involved with the Prairie Steppers, and she volunteered her time to teach the kids jigging. That was a really good program. The kids really enjoyed it and are asking when we're going to do it again."
Among some hit events that really took off with the students, she recalls the 'Kids in the Kitchen' program.
"I worked with both the Grades 1 to 3, and 4 to 6s separately," adds Lee. "They were given different recipes to try here and then they were able to take what they made home with the recipes, as well. They could try the recipes at home, too. Upcoming, we have beading for the 4 to 6s and then we have powwow dancing for Grades 1 to 6."
She shares what the work has done for her and her career in Portage Schools.
"I'm really enjoying the Community Schools aspect. I'm new to this position," says Lee. "I'm finding that, for myself, I'm learning lots about the families here and with the families with indigenous backgrounds. I'm learning thoughts from them as well and really enjoying the opportunities that I have to spend with them."
She notes the families also enjoy the chance to get to know each other.
"I see families enjoying themselves at the programs here. Sometimes, I have little tidbits to give them, as well, for resources in the community that may be helpful for them. So, I think it goes both ways. We're all learning from each other."