The Bulkley Valley Learning Centre is moving into new digs.
Beginning next September, students attending the Bulkley Valley Learning Centre will be taking their classes at the Northwest Community College campus in Smithers in a dedicated classroom and office space for the staff.
“From the college’s perspective we are very excited to have the Bulkley Valley Learning Centre join us here,” Regina Saimoto, NWCC Smithers campus principal, said.
Saimoto identified several reasons why having the BV Learning Centre students attend classes at NWCC was a good idea.
First, Saimoto said having learning centre students on campus makes for an easier transition for the students deciding to further their education at NWCC.
Another benefit of having the learning centre students on campus, Saimoto said, is it strengthens the connection between NWCC, School District 54 and the community as a whole.
“We also hope it will foster a positive learning environment for the students in the learning centre,” Saimoto explained.
“I think integrating services between different service providers in the community is a good thing, collaboration is always a good thing and this is an example of a positive venture.”
The move is also a win-win situation from the school districts perspective.
“We’re taking advantage of an opportunity available at the college,” Stephen Lockwood, Vice-Principal of the Bulkley Valley Learning Centre, said.
Having the learning centre at NWCC has several advantages from the school district’s point of view, Lockwood said.
One advantage is the proximity of the NWCC to the Smithers secondary school. The few blocks separating the campuses means students at the learning centre wishing to take a course at the secondary school have just a short walk to make compared to the learning centre’s present location on Fulton Avenue.
There are also pedagogical advantages to having the learning centre located at the NWCC campus, Lockwood said.
The potential for mentorships with NWCC staff as well as everyday opportunities for the learning centre students to interact and observe positive role models such as the NWCC staff and students is tops on Lockwood’s list.
“The mentorships are an important part of this,” Lockwood said.
“Particularly for students that don’t fit in traditional classrooms.”
Other opportunities for learning centre students include utilization of some of the specialized spaces at NWCC such as the laboratories.
Also, students from the learning centre often take part in various programs such as ACE IT, EMAP and Environmental Assessment and Monitoring programs, Saimoto said and the move to the NWCC just makes it easier for students to take part in such programs.
The move to NWCC, however, won’t include all of the students enrolled in the learning centre.
“The younger students won’t be following us to NWCC,” Lockwood said.
In fact, Lockwood said, education outside of the regular school curriculum wouldn’t be available to Grade 8 or 9 students, rather they will attend regular classes at Smithers secondary school.
“It would be tougher for the younger kids to adjust to the college environment,” Lockwood explained.
“We have the best interest of the kids in mind and their specialized learning needs can be better met at the high school.”