Internet high school gives First Nations students options
Keewaytinook Internet High School gives kids a chance stay in school without leaving their First Nation
For many students in First Nations in northern Ontario, getting a secondary education means leaving their community and attending high school in Sioux Lookout or Thunder Bay.
Principal Darrin Potter said one advantage for students staying at home is the level of support from family and community.
"There's a lot that can be said about the importance of having like a strong family and community base as you're developing in those important years of secondary schooling, [it's] the support that you need."
Potter said the internet school is currently offered in 13 communities but has partnerships with other First Nations to offer credit courses.
He said each community has a classroom which can be a room in an elementary school or in a separate building and there is a qualified Ontario teacher in each location
He added that computers and other technology, such as video conferencing, are available for the students who use them to submit all their work online.
Potter said the online experience also helps prepare his students for post-secondary education because they work independently, at their own pace with the guidance of a teacher .
"When a student comes into an online program they are developing a lot of skills for independent studies and independent work that maybe some other traditional schools are not developing as much," Potter said.
The operation of the school is not without challenges. Potter said getting adequate funding from Aboriginal Affairs is a annual concern.
He said another challenge is the attitude in some communities that kids have to leave their communities in order to get a secondary education.