DFC teacher looks forward to new school year
Dennis Franklin Cromarty First Nations High School teacher Katie Sha is looking forward to her seventh year of teaching at the Thunder Bay-based high school, noting she is taking on a new responsibility this year as the literacy lead.
Dennis Franklin Cromarty First Nations High School is kicking off the new school year with an Amazing Race to different locations via Thunder Bay’s transit system.
“It’s fun, it’s a race and they have fun while they are doing it,” said English teacher Katie Sha. “But they also learn how to get around the city, which is important.”
Sha looks forward to her seventh year at DFC, noting she is excited to see the returning students from last year and to meet the new students. In addition, she also looks forward to her new role as literacy lead at DFC, which includes preparing students for the Ontario secondary school literacy test.
“I try to make it fun and also (teach) everyday literacy skills that would be helpful for them beyond high school,” Sha said. “Every Friday we do a different activity as the whole school, so it’s either a literacy-based, numeracy-based or culturally-based activity.”
Word games, word numeracy problems and Native language bingos are among the activities done on Fridays.
“For literacy we might do a class word game and the first class that finishes is the winner,” Sha said. “For numeracy they try to focus on word problems because they find our students have the most difficulty interpreting word problems. For the cultural activities we’ve done the Native language bingo and we’ve done other games involving learning different words that we should all learn, not just the students but the staff here as well, to help learn the language more.”
Sha has noticed a big change in the school environment at DFC since 2007.
“The staff really is a family here — we really work together for our students and it’s just a really positive place,” Sha said. “We try to make it somewhere that our students feel at home, it’s like a second home for them.”
Sha said DFC has also become more student-focused since she joined the teaching staff.
“We’re aware of the issues that they face when they come here to the city,” Sha said. “We’re trying different things to help them become more accustomed to living in the city.”
DFC has also invited local residents to visit the school and to get to know the students better.
“We’re trying to become an even bigger presence in the city of Thunder Bay,” Sha said. “We’ve invited (city residents) into the school more. They can get to know our students in a different way and see that they’re awesome people and they’re here to pursue their education.”
DFC also holds a memorial walk within the first two weeks of school to honour the six DFC students who have passed away while pursuing their secondary education, encourage the current students to be safe and to remind them of the dangers in the city if they are out alone.
“As a school, we walk to a spot on the river near Silvercity where one of our students had been found,” Sha said. “We have a ceremony and we throw tobacco and flowers into the river and we have drumming and prayers and we remember those students that we lost.”
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