Through the Teachers' Idea Fund, the Rivers Elementary School received $112,000 to support a nature-based instructional program.

The Rivers School is just one of 38 new projects funded under the provincial initiative, total $3.2 million.  The announcement was made this past week of the many innovative programs that are focused on one or more of the following:

  • talking about mental health;
  • training for teachers;
  • incorporating mental health into teaching;
  • providing appropriate tools and supports for students; and
  • taking care of teachers and staff.

Rivers School is a K-Grade 6 school with 193 students, located 40 km northwest of Brandon

Grade 4 Teacher, grant application writer and facilitator of the new program, Allisan Hamm shares how their soon-to-be-launched initiative is to help benefit their students.  "The focus this time around was on 'mental health'," shares Hamm.  "Improving mental health in our schools, between staff and students."

"Our hope is that we can expand our focus on land-based learning.  To improve student mental health, we intend to incorporate outdoor education principles into daily learning within the school and infusing it with indigenous ways of knowing and doing. A lot of the current research says that outdoor learning can help to improve student achievement while helping to support positive mental health," she adds.

Within the $112,000 a support staff will be hired to help facilitate the program, this to help with preparation, supervision and data collection. The second part of the grant addresses the technological need for accurate data collection and study.  Improving wifi services throughout the school and school grounds, as well as purchasing new ipads for student use in documenting activities through photo and video, to complete the tasks when back in the classroom.

Principal, Garnet Kinney, says they were thrilled to hear of the funds coming their way for this new program.  He says the idea was inspired by the social distancing through the pandemic and saw the benefits of taking more educating opportunities outside!

"In the small rural area, sometimes you feel like you don't always get picked," shares Kinny.  This was just one of those amazing things for our community, for our students, and for our staff. So, yes 'excitement' is the best way to describe it!"

Please listen to more of the interview with Allison Hamm and Garnet Kinney with CJRB's Betty Sawatzky: