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Saskatoon ABE Staff Prepare for Upcoming School Year

By Marilyn Black

Oct 1, 2020

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Saskatoon Adult Basic Education Staff

The COVID-19 pandemic changed the landscape for everyone this spring.  For those of us at the Dumont Technical Institute (DTI) in Adult Basic Education (ABE), we recognized the need to respond swiftly and creatively in order to continue to deliver the high-quality programming needed to support our Métis students, families, and communities.  The staff collaborated and rallied to ensure the ABE students were able to finish their courses, graduate, and move forward on their educational or employment paths.

The DTI ABE staff have been diligently learning how to utilize the Brightspace Learning Management System.  This will help to transform educational programming and delivery through the use of a ‘hybrid’ delivery model, which means that students will take classes in a blend of online and in-person sessions.  Brightspace gives DTI the capacity to deliver all the programs 100% online if required.  We are learning how to use ‘new to us’ technology and are becoming comfortable navigating the digital world. We have even set up the COVID-19 screener to be completed by students daily through Brightspace in order to ensure good health and track data.

To prepare the upcoming students for success and hopefully positively impact the retention rate, the Saskatoon instructors called each student prior to the start of school in order to help address any questions or concerns and make personal connections. Pictures were taken and posted on social media of the staff and facility in order for students to have a visual of the health and safety protocols in action. The 1003 building and classroom have a designated entrance and exit doors with sanitization stations.  The student lounge allows a maximum of four people at a time. Personal protective equipment is provided and readily accessible. The anxiety of the unknown is a huge barrier and everyone has done an admirable job to lean on each other during this journey to best support the students.

Below are some reflections, advice, and inspiring messages in regards to this upcoming school year, from the Saskatoon ABE staff:

Marilyn Black, Program Coordinator: This is an exciting time! It truly takes a team to make an impact and move the learning forward.  I am so proud of how the instructors have embraced the new reality, positively supported each other in the learning, and have taken on new leadership roles during this time of uncertainty.

Shawna Dubiel, Instructor: I’m looking forward to meeting our new students and seeing familiar faces return. It’ll be great to get back into a routine. We have a lot of new experiences this year, so I’m anticipating some excitement from that as well. My advice is to set realistic goals for yourself. Acknowledge the big picture, but focus on the little steps that will help you be successful. As your instructors, your success is also our success, and we want to celebrate each step with you. So far, this school year has taught me to be more patient with myself. Learning something new might seem scary at first, but with time, you will realize it isn’t so bad after all.

Cindy LaPlante, Instructor: Have confidence in the steps that GDI/DTI has taken to ensure safety for the staff and students. With that being said I am looking forward to the return of our students and engaging in the learning and sharing of knowledge.  Despite the challenges that have been placed upon our learning this semester, keeping attendance and engagement a top priority is still the key to a successful semester.

Janelle Duplessis: I am looking forward to working with everyone both in the classroom and online. This is going to be an amazing new adventure together. Hard work and dedication are the keys to becoming successful. I have learned to adapt to the changes that are put in place due to the COVID-19 restrictions.

Kristi Ross, Program Support Facilitator: I am looking forward to meeting our new students and starting the year with our new “normal.” There are going to be bumps along the way but bear with us, and we will make sure to give you one of the most rewarding years. We have to learn to go with the flow. So far, I have learned that we need to make sure we are working together because the new normal has taught us that we need to lean on each other for emotional and mental support.

Amanda Fisher-Laframboise: I would like to extend a very warm welcome to all of the Adult Basic Education Program students. It was so great speaking with you and seeing you on the zoom interviews. Being accepted into the ABE program is truly a gift. I am so grateful to witness you all on your journey of building a brighter future. I can’t wait to see you with your Graduation cap and gowns and wearing your Métis sash.

Abby Pelletier: Hi, and welcome to Dumont Technical Institute.  My name is Abby, and I work at the front desk and will be the first person you will see when entering our building.  We have been busy preparing for the start of classes amid the COVID-19. This year will definitely be different, but looking forward to seeing the returning students and meeting our new ones.  You have chosen an excellent school to further your education, and our instructors are the best. Welcome, and have a good year!

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Gabriel Dumont Institue

GDI is a Saskatchewan-based educational, employment and cultural institute serving Métis across the province

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