The staff at Creighton Community School will be getting a little bigger over the next year, courtesy of a grant through a federal government program aiming to assist First Nations youth.
The school will receive funding for seven new jobs - six full-time educational assistants and one full-time mentor - through Jordan’s Principle. The funding totals around $250,000 for one year.
Jordan’s Principle is an ongoing government initiative meant to provide equitable access to all government funded services for First Nations children, both on and off reserve. The program is named after Jordan River Anderson, a child from Norway House Cree Nation who had a rare muscle disorder that necessitated constant medical care. Jordan passed away at age five after the provincial and federal governments were unable to determine who had financial responsibility to cover Jordan’s care.
The federal funding is allocated for First Nations students with health issues, including learning disabilities or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or for students with specific education needs.
Teacher Laura-Lee Brown was part of the Creighton School group that applied for funding for the positions through the federal government. When she received word that the cash would be coming, she was floored.
“I had goosebumps. I was thrilled - this has been a process we've been working through since May of last year. To finally get word that we actually got funding for seven positions, that’s huge support for our students and it was exactly what we were hoping to get.”
Each of the six educational assistant positions will be specifically for students designated as having “high needs”, while the mentor position will be geared toward middle years students.
Applying for the funding is not an easy task - a lengthy application process comes before even one dollar is allocated.
Brown said the process to secure funding began back in May.
“We needed to include information about the students in terms of their needs, assessment data, individual plans. We needed parents on board, we needed letters of recommendation. We needed our school board and administration on board with it as well. It was quite a substantial package to send in to help get support for students and the result is worth the effort,” she said.
The funds will be available for one year, with a possibility for the positions and finances being renewed for a second year. Parents can also apply through Jordan’s Principle for funding for travel and school-related items such as books or technology.
“We’re excited for the kids. We do the best we can with the little that we do have - now I think it’s just going to lighten the load for everyone and really improve the educational experience of a lot of our students,” said Brown.