January 22nd, 2022

MHCBE launches St. Joseph’s Education Centre at Monsignor McCoy

By KENDALL KING, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on November 18, 2021.

kking@medicinehatnews.com

Medicine Hat Catholic Board of Education is working with students to provide support which goes beyond that of traditional learning with the St. Joseph’s Education Centre at Monsignor McCoy High School.

The centre, which was introduced at the beginning of the fall school year, is an amalgamation of an in-person learning support centre and a virtual classroom, housed in two connected learning spaces; one which acts more like a study space and is primarily used by students attending virtual classes and one which has all the amenities of a classroom, but offers students more freedom as well as one-on-one educator and mental health supports.

Students in the online portion of the centre take part in courses from a variety of online schools, Paul Bauche, principal at McCoy, told the News.

“They’re doing either core courses – social, English, math, science – or they’re doing those less subscribed courses like sociology or Ukrainian or legal studies. All those many dozens of courses that you might not have enough kids to put a teacher in front of, they can do it because they have a teacher virtually.”

Students in the other portion focus on their studies at McCoy, particularly subjects they may need extra assistance in comprehending.

“It is very personalized,” said Bauche. “(The students) might be working in there because they’re trying to get a class that they couldn’t fit into their timetable, but more typically, it’s because of reasons such as anxiety or other factors like that, that makes traditional learning less (beneficial) for them.”

Melissa Eckes, resource and resiliency worker and mental health coordinator, works in the centre full time establishing relationships with the students and providing them with the tools they need to succeed academically.

“A lot of my kids – approximately 90% – are at high risk for not graduating or deal with some sort of mental health issue,” Eckes told the News. “So my focus, being on their mental health, is that unless their mental health is well and being put into consideration they’re not going to be able to focus on their studies,”

Jesse Beach, Grade 12 student who deals with anxiety, says she’s thankful for the program.

“When you’re in class, it can be stressful and there’s a lot of people… The learning centre is a nice quiet space and I can work without thinking about other people,” she said. “They had a prototype learning centre when I first came to McCoy in Grade 10. It was okay… but now, it’s been improved so much because there’s more freedom. You’d think that wouldn’t work, you’d think that kids wouldn’t show up, but they do… They’re there because they want to be there.”

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