You know you’ve encountered something pretty magical when you see kids happy to be learning. One group of kids are in a corner looking at books and creating art; another group is outside getting their photo taken by a parent. Under the roof of the two modular classrooms that now house Morinville Public Elementary School’s Grade 1 to 4 students there is some magical happiness going on.
We know this to be true because we were there twice last week: once to cover the opening of the modular classrooms and once to ask students what they liked best about their new surroundings. In both cases we encountered happy children being taught by educators who were happy to be instructing another generation of students.
Learning, whether in a large modern school like we are accustomed to today or a one-room school house as our parents and grandparents may have experienced, has always been about dedicated teachers who took an interest in our children’s education and in their lives. Lucky are the students of Morinville Public Elementary School to have such educators; lucky, too, are those attending GSACRD’s four schools in the community.
Press coverage last week, particularly from the city papers and stations, seemed focused on the opening of the modular classrooms from the vantage point of the ongoing issue of faith-based vs. non-faith-based schooling in the community. It is understandable; the minister of education said he’d given the three boards involved in the matter until mid-January to decide, and had intimated last week he would be making an announcement on the matter in the next few days. Clocks continue to tick onward as news of that announcement (whatever it may be) remain, as of this writing, a mystery to us all.
Kids, at least the ones we talked to, seem unaware of any of this; their only concerns seem to be exploring their new modular classrooms and playground on the Vanier School grounds, and continuing on with their studies that began in September.
This is truly something magical because the children are not hindered by the politics of the issues that brought this schooling option to Morinville, nor are educators from either option lessening their efforts to teach.
Human rights complaints have been filed with the Alberta Human Rights Commission on the school issue and two of those were rejected on Thursday to the disappointment of those who filed them.
Enough articles have been written on the Morinville schools issue over the past year to fill a couple volumes, and it is certain many more will be written with the rejection of the human rights complaints and the” local solution” once it is revealed.
The important thing for us to remember is the greatest importance is the children themselves and their education. Haggling over the political, ethical, legal and jurisdictional aspects of the matter will continue apace by the adults involved, but now that this fledgling school system is on the grounds of the establish system let us not put our preconceived ideas and prejudices upon the students of either system.
Right now Vanier students are enjoying their educational experience as are the students of Morinville Public Elementary School. Expectations and timelines aside, this is what is of the greatest importance.
Once shabby and tiny, portables have evolved into modulars that are bright, spacious, and full of potential. Four students shared their views with us this past week on what their favourite part of their new classrooms were, answers that varied but united in a sense that the new spot was pretty cool. Consistent through all our chats were the genuine smiles on the faces of the students and a sense of gratitude that something special had been built for them.
Losing sight of this accomplishes little regardless of what camp any of us may be in on the issue. Until an announcement is made on what the ultimate “local solution” will be, these two modular are home to some pretty happy children right now, and maybe they’ll continue to be home after the announcement is made – only time will tell.
But for us, seeing children in a boardroom or a classroom engaged in their studies provided by good teachers, regardless of whether the school is Catholic or public is a joy to behold. Something magical, indeed.