This week I've visited two different schools. And different is clearly one of the words that applies.
The first, the White Rock Learning Centre, is a small, storefront-style building, with a population of about 150. Its students have chosen to attend an alternate school, one that does things differently from the mainstream ones. Students set their own goals and learn at their own pace. Teachers are there to help keep everyone on track, but the real push for learning comes from the students themselves.
So it was pleasing to me that a group of them decided the presentation I was making (for the BC Federation of Writers' Off the Page program) might be worth taking time out of their Wednesday morning for. We wrote some 'group-poems' and shared the results of our work. We talked about many things, including books we loved.
Then today I had another opportunity to visit another school -- this time about as different from the Learning Centre as I could imagine. Oceanview Middle School (aptly named, that's their view in the photo above) is a far cry from a storefront in a mini-mall. And rather than being a home for students of all ages (15 and up), the way the Learning Centre is, Oceanview caters to Grade Eights only. The visit made for an interesting contrast from Wednesday's session. Besides the age difference, I had a much larger group, as my audience consisted of the entire student body.
My challenge was to set a writing challenge that each student could work on. After all, I was part of their Literacy Day. Contrarian that I am, rather than giving a single assignment, I suggested a number of avenues for students to pursue. No doubt, this frustrated some; hopefully, it freed up a few.
But no matter how different each situation might have been, what remained was that both places made me feel welcome. And more importantly, both places strengthened my hopes for a positive future for life on this planet.