Students take a greener path

There’s more than one educational pathway at Shuswap Middle School.

Planting: Life skills class students Megan Senn

There’s more than one educational pathway at Shuswap Middle School.

Learning resource teacher Angela Cumming provides appropriate programming to meet the abilities and needs of those who need extra support through a Pathways Program.

“Every student can learn and grow,” she says, noting she is a firm believer in integrating students with special needs into regular classrooms. “It doesn’t matter what level you’re at, you can learn from your social peers. Even if you have a special need there’s so much value in being with your peers.”

Cumming says the integration is also important for the other students to be exposed to those with unique needs.

“By inclusion, kids with special needs learn way more than they would in an excluded setting, and the rest of the students learn about special needs and they’re less scared because they understand,” she says. “So they become helpful peer helpers, and it’s amazing just to see the interaction.”

While they may be doing different work, being in the same room is vitally important to her students and, Cummings says, the teachers love seeing pathways students succeed.

Some of her students are able to stay in academic classes such as socials and science, where they might do a parallel program that gives them the basics and allows them to take part in hands-on and visual aspects of the classes.

“They may not learn the complex abstract things,” says Cumming, who teaches fundamental skills and tailors individual educational pathways to suit each of her students.

She says the acceptance they receive from the rest of the student population is extremely important to them.

“That might seem like a small thing to some, but it’s so big for the kids to be accepted.”

Her students are not just learning in classrooms. Some of them participate in the Explorations program that includes sewing, cooking, woodwork and arts classes as well as PE in many cases.

And her 14 students enrolled in this year’s Pathways Class take care of recycling in the school and grow fruits and vegetables in the large courtyard, which they also maintain.

This year, the Pathways Class is also taking up the challenge to be part of the B.C. Green Games.

BC Green Games is a province-wide competition for kindergarten to Grade 12 students, designed to encourage action, enable sharing and reward and celebrate the green efforts of schools in B.C.

At Shuswap Middle School, Pathways students have created an extensive garden at the front as their entry into the Green Games.

Nico’s Garden Centre helped them design a garden plan on a computer and supplied plants at a discount.

“My students love being outside, hands on and making things nice,” Cumming says.  “We have fun and we’re just a really big piece of the school because we’re making the school a nicer place to be.”

Pathways students decorate a small courtyard for seasonal occasions and have grown strawberries and  potatoes in the big courtyard.

Cumming’s students also have a place to go when they need to calm down for a while.

A sensory room is outfitted with a number of bins containing items for hands on projects and a calm room outfitted with a hammock, where they can relax a bit.

“We’re finding these kids need it more than the others,” says Cumming, pointing out research is currently underway on making the means to release pent-up energy available to all students in the district.

While it would not be easy to introduce a “calm down” program into regular classrooms, Cummings says a group of learning resource teachers are exploring sensory regulation in the classroom.


“As teachers, many times we expect kids to sit down and stay quiet while the teachers are moving around,” she says. “It’s not how we were meant to be, we were meant to move, and that’s how we learn, by moving.”



Just Posted

Sicamous Eagles lose two on the road

Despite late offensive surges, the Sicamous squad came up short in Spokane and the Beaver Valley.

What financial commitments do you want from candidates running for prime minister?

As the federal election quickly approaches, the Observer took to the streets… Continue reading

In photos: Magician entertains in downtown Salmon Arm

Children of Salmon Arm were treated to the wonders of magician Leif… Continue reading

Salmon Arm councillors examine dangerous bike routes

A tour of problem areas was conducted in downtown Salmon Arm

Survey: Salmon Arm houses cheaper to buy than many towns in B.C.

Only places with lower average price per square foot in study were northern communities

VIDEO: A moment to remember during the World Lacrosse Men’s Indoor Championship in B.C.

Diego Hernandez Valenzuela’s team lost, but he felt like a winner Saturday

B.C. VIEWS: School officials join fact-free ‘climate strike’

Students, public get distorted picture of greenhouse gases

Latimer surveyed much of Summerland

Civil engineer was also responsible of community’s irrigation system

Caught on Camera: Boat catches fire at Okanagan marina

The cause of the fire is unknown at this time, no injuries were reported as a result of the blaze

Handgun crackdown, health spending and transit plans latest campaign promises

Friday was the end of a busy week on the campaign trail

B.C. woman photographs massive ant swarm on Abbotsford driveway

She asked what the ants were doing? The answer: war

Shuswap elementary enrolment numbers two times higher than projections

Estimates show increases mainly between four schools

Iconic 90s TV show ‘Friends’ celebrates 25th anniversary

The iconic, decade-long television show aired its first episode 25 years ago today

Most Read