Saskatoon Catholic set to offer more classes that count toward post-secondary

The partnership, which was formalized last week, was applauded by both the University of Saskatchewan and Saskatchewan Polytechnic.

The credits are being offered through the Bishop James Mahoney's Health and Sciences Academy

Select Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools students may be better prepared for their post-secondary education as the Health and Sciences Academy at Bishop James Mahoney has partnered with the University of Saskatchewan and Sask. Polytechnic to have students complete university-level courses while in high school. (James Hopkin/CBC)

A program for select students within the Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools will help them be better prepared for their post-secondary education.

Starting this winter, Grade 12 students at Bishop James Mahoney's Health and Sciences Academy will be able to earn credits at the school for select post-secondary courses.

The agreement comes following a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the division, Saskatchewan Polytechnic and the University of Saskatchewan that was signed last week. The three have been working together in partnership over the last few years, with the MOU formalizing the partnership.

Andrea Regier, the academy's program lead, said the wording of the MOU also allows for future opportunities for collaboration.

Currently, the academy offers first-year biology from the University of Saskatchewan and several from Sask. Polytechnic. She noted however, the academy's focus goes beyond partnerships with academic institutions. 

"It's more so a look at how we present curricula ... and the foundation of that is the partnerships within communities," she said.

For example, she discussed "working with the Saskatchewan Environmental Society, working with local landowners to provide access for environmental studies." 

Regier said they'll also bring in local business owners and community members as guest teachers as well to ensure students have access to a number of different fields. She says in the three years the academy has been active, the number of students interested has been growing.

Saskatchewan Polytechnic already offers several dual-credit courses through the Health and Sciences Academy and the institution said it's exploring options for more classes. (Matt Howard/CBC)

"We kind of had started at about three teachers involved in the program and now we're up to 10 to 11 teachers teaching academy classes so it is growing," she said. "Lots of demand."

Students in the Health and Sciences Academy also get to meet with and learn from people working in the field of science and health, which might help lead students down paths they never thought of or knew existed. 

"It's almost impossible to make a list of what the students are interested in," she said. "Everything from lab techs to technologists to researchers in the medical field. There's lots of variety." 

In a press release, Sandra Blevins, Dean of the School of Nursing and School of Health Sciences at Sask. Polytechnic said her institution is excited to be a part of the partnership and will be looking at what additional dual-credit courses can be explored moving forward. 

Students at Bishop James Mahoney's Health and Sciences Academy can now take university-level introduction to biology courses at the school as part of a partnership with the University of Saskatchewan. (Google Street View)

"Dual-credit courses provide students with the opportunity to get a head start on their post-secondary education," she said in the release. 

Gordon DesBrisay, vice-dean academic at the University of Saskatchewan's College of Arts and Science, said the college is "delighted" they were asked to join the partnership.

"Faculty in our Department of Biology leapt at this chance to work with a well-qualified teacher and an engaged and highly capable cohort of students," he said in the release. "The biology course offered to these students is foundational to every STEM field, and will help students find the right post-secondary path for them just that little bit sooner."

Alongside the formalization of a partnership between the three institutions, 2020 will also see the Health and Science Academy's first graduating class since its inception in 2017.


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