A collaborative learning facility in Smithers founded four years ago continues to thrive and grow.
EdGE Learning Centre operates under the not-for-profit, Bulkley Valley Collaborative Learning Society, which was formed in the spring of 2019. The first program that BVCLS brought and supports, is the Heartwood distributed learning community from School District 71 of Comox.
This is a blended learning program where home-learners get two days a week of teacher-facilitated, group experiential learning days, participating in outdoor activities or STEM-based (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) classroom activities.
EdGE also runs the largest robotics club in the north — with 12 teams and more than 45 members — and have been approved to host First Lego League qualifying competitions in the north instead of competitors having to travel to Victoria.
In 2018, the centre had one teacher and 12 students; 2019 saw it grow to two teachers and 27 students and 2020 and 2021 are both full at 53 students and three teachers.
The Learning Centre also offers literacy tutoring, recreational classes, a robotics club, non-instructional day camps, and a Climb High Outdoor program for teens ages 14-18.
“Much of our success is due to some very generous grants, local donors, and the support of the Town of Smithers, with the rental of the old Ranger Park building,” co-chair Alethia Perry said.
“Everything at the EdGE is volunteer-run and operated. We could definitely use a program administrator and have been looking to fill that position since May. Volunteers do the scheduling, registration, administration, accounting, etc.”
“We have many programs offered to families and youth in the community, so we are excited to let them know where we are, and what we are about,” Perry said.
The EdGE Learning Centre is located in the Old Ranger Station 16th Avenue in Smithers.