Community-Based Learning

CCRSB News: 
Monday, March 16, 2015

Explore, inquire & grow

Helping high school students find connections between their “real” life and the curriculum taught in classrooms can be a challenge. Helping students see the connection between the curriculum taught and a future career can sometimes seem impossible. For many students, those challenges are much less thanks to their participation in Community-Based Learning (CBL) programs. 

“Community-Based Learning describes education that engages the community to help our students learn,” said Don Hill, CCRSB’s Community-Based Learning Consultant. “Community-Based Learning includes the community visiting our schools and students visiting the community, both as supervised groups and as independent learners. The two most common independent opportunities are Job Shadows (14+ yrs of age; 8 hour community placement) and Co-operative Education (16+ yrs of age; 100 hour community placement).” 

Students in CCRSB participate in Community-Based Learning through the Career Exploration Program (CEP), the Options and Opportunities program (O2) and Cooperative Education courses. By accessing these programs and courses, high school students get the chance to experience curriculum connections – and explore their future – hands-on. 

Bremdan on the job at Brandt Tractor Ltd.There are 184 CCRSB students at six high schools currently involved in the Options and Opportunities Program. Successful student applicants engage in a career-related program that allows for Community-Based Learning and Co-op opportunities. Students involved are often in the community as part of a group and as independent learners, with their Co-op experiences directed by their personal career path interests. The O2 Program is designed to prepare students for successful transitions from high school to work, a career path, or a post-secondary program. 

Hants North Regional High School has offered O2 since the program was introduced in Nova Scotia in 2006. In the last nine years, many Hants North students have gone on to complete various programs at the Nova Scotia Community College following their involvement with O2. This year is no different. Grade 12 student, Brendan Scallion, has successfully completed over 300 Co-operative Education hours at Brandt Tractor Ltd in Bedford and is hoping to complete an additional placement there prior to finishing his Grade 12 year. Brendan brings his exceptional work ethic from the classroom to Brandt Tractor and has demonstrated amazing commitment, often working longer than is typical of the normal school day. His willingness to learn and try any task that is asked of him is part of the reason that Brendan has realized such great success. Next fall, Brendan will be taking classes at NSCC Kingstec in the Heavy Duty Truck and Transport Program.

Terry White, ARHS.

The Career Exploration Program is a unique learning opportunity for students entering Grade 10 in six high schools across CCRSB. This school year, there are 262 students enrolled in the program. CEP students are successful due to the winning combination of academic courses and hands-on elective courses that build their confidence and prepare them for their Co-operative Education opportunities. Courses are designed to meet the needs of a great range of learners, including those who may proceed to post-secondary education as well as those who will be seeking direct entry into the work force following high school graduation. Class sizes are also smaller, allowing for more one-on one time with the teacher. 

Terry White graduates from Amherst Regional High School this year and says his future is very bright, mostly because of his experience in the Career Exploration Program. According to Terry, the hands on learning approach and real-life experiences gained through the co-op terms are fun and are the best way to 

Co-operative Education (Co-op) is a course that is available for students who are at least 16 years of age, of all academic levels and interests. Students must apply and be successful through an interview process to participate in the program. Co-op is offered to students in three ways in CCRSB: as an elective; as part of the Career Exploration Program; or as part of the Options and Opportunities program. CCRSB students earned 499 Co-op credits in 2013-14; with another 563 Co-op credits predicted to be earned by students during the current school year. learn. “After I finished my co-op placement, I was offered a job and I am still working there now and I am going to work for them full-time when I finish high school.” Terry doesn’t think he would have completed high school if it were not for CEP. “It was perfect for me; small classes, lots of hands on and something different every day.”

Neena Brostowski is a Grade 12 student at Cobequid Educational Centre and she recently completed a co-op placement with the Colchester East Hants Health Authority. "Co-op has aided me in helping to plan my future. It gave me an outlook to the career path I wish to follow. It helped me to decide if I really wanted to pursue a career in BioChemical Engineering or pursue something different. After the experience of working with pathologists Dr. Jason Jollimore and Dr. Robert Boudreau I am considering Pathology as a career possibility as well. Co-op 12 allowed me to meet new people and experience new things in a real work place environment." 

The value of these programs for students and the employers who come into schools and welcome students behind their counters, into their laboratories and onto their worksites, cannot be denied. 

“I have been involved with the CCRSB Co-operative Education program for almost three years. During this time we have had a number of students at Colchester East Hants Health Center,” said Raj Makkar, Department Head for Ambulatory Care, Cardio-Respiratory and Rehab Services at the Colchester East Hants Health Center. “The Co-op Program is an amazing partnership with CEC and the community of Colchester County. It affords our youth the ability to witness first-hand a profession that they are interested in pursuing post high school…[and] it allows them to grow and develop outside of the classroom setting. The future of our community rests in the hands or our youth and what better opportunity than to afford them the ability to view the amazing professional and career options that exist in Colchester County.” 

CCRSB has offered Community-Based Learning since 1996. Student interest in the programs offered has risen significantly in the last 10 years. Don Hill knows that Community-Based Learning works, and that the programs offered make a real difference in the lives of the students enrolled, as well as the employers. 

“Community-Based Learning helps students learn more about themselves and potential career paths that align with their interests. The experiences help students set goals and increase their chance of success in their education and career paths. The community benefits by having the satisfaction of sharing their skills and knowledge with the students. The experience provides the chance for communities to showcase the wide variety of employment opportunities available, increasing the chances of students seeing a future for themselves in their local area.”