From Stoney Creek to Fort Hope, Rebecca Jerome's First Nations first teaching job is an opportunity of a lifetime

Community Sep 08, 2017 by Mike Pearson Stoney Creek News

Rebecca Jerome has travelled more than 1,100 kilometres to land her first teaching job. For Jerome, who graduated as a teacher candidate from Brock University in June, her first teaching post is an opportunity of a lifetime.

The Stoney Creek native is leading a 12-student Grade 7 class at John C. Yesno Education Centre in Fort Hope, Ontario, also known as Eabametoong First Nation. Located about 350 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay, Fort Hope is accessible only by air in the summer months. The school has an enrolment of about 350 students in kindergarten to Grade 9.

Jerome discovered opportunities for teachers through Teach For Canada, a nonprofit organization that works with schools in remote communities to promote, prepare and support teachers. Jerome learned about Teach For Canada through her contacts at Brock.

Before arriving in Fort Hope on Aug. 24, Jerome and other Teach for Canada recruits participated in a three-week preparation course in Thunder Bay. Jerome had an opportunity to meet some of the teachers already stationed in Fort Hope and to learn about First Nations education.

"There were some fears," Jerome acknowledged. "But I feel very well prepared because of the program."

During their time in Thunder Bay, Jerome and her colleagues learned about Indigenous world views and colonial history.

"We built a sweat lodge, which was amazing and then we sweated in it," said Jerome. "We had Indigenous ceremonies to prepare us with the spirituality."

The teacher recruits learned that Indigenous education requires a holistic approach.

"You want to embed their culture in your teachings," she said. "So if you want to assess something, you try and incorporate their world views into whatever you’re trying to assess."

For example, Jerome recently asked her students which one of the seven grandfather teachings they connect with and which one they think is the most important. In the Ojibwa culture, the values of wisdom, truth, honesty, bravery, humility, respect and love are known as the grandfather teachings. Many residents of Fort Hope still speak the traditional Ojibwa language.

Jerome said a holistic approach to teaching also encompasses the students’ academics, emotional and spiritual needs, as well as mental health.

After completing her Teach for Canada training, Jerome had a 25-hour train ride to Sioux Lookout, followed by a flight in a 12-seat aircraft to Fort Hope.

Jerome, who graduated as a history major, teaches all of the core subjects, including social studies, math, English, science, art, music and drama. She also plans to help coach a local girls hockey team this fall.

"I come from a hockey family," said Jerome, who played for the Stoney Creek Sabres in her teenage years.

After just one week on the job, Jerome is still getting to know her students and the community. She took her students on a walk on Sept. 8, to learn more about the area and their lives. Jerome also asked her students to write her a letter about the goals they hope to achieve over the coming year.

"I knew (the job) was going to challenge me and I feel like the students will eventually warm up to me," said Jerome.

Along with the girls hockey team, Fort Hope has a variety of recreational programs to help keep youth engaged, like a baseball team, an after-school program and events at the community hall. Fort Hope also hosts the Rez Games, which includes fishing derbies, bingo, races and dances for the kids. Families also participate in an annual powwow and a spring hunt.

Jerome said Teach for Canada's preparation was very thorough in the area of mental health.

By making a two-year commitment to live and work in Fort Hope, Jerome hopes to encourage her students to open up about any challenges they might be facing.

"It’s really important to me to decrease the education gap between Indigenous students and non-Indigenous and their graduation rates," said Jerome. "If I can get these students to continue on in high school and encourage them to go to post-secondary, it would be amazing."

Jerome praised the work of Teach For Canada, which continues to provide her with resources and ongoing support. She is one of four Teach for Canada teachers stationed in Fort Hope.

"It's an amazing opportunity," she said.

From Stoney Creek to Fort Hope, Rebecca Jerome's First Nations first teaching job is an opportunity of a lifetime

Community Sep 08, 2017 by Mike Pearson Stoney Creek News

Rebecca Jerome has travelled more than 1,100 kilometres to land her first teaching job. For Jerome, who graduated as a teacher candidate from Brock University in June, her first teaching post is an opportunity of a lifetime.

The Stoney Creek native is leading a 12-student Grade 7 class at John C. Yesno Education Centre in Fort Hope, Ontario, also known as Eabametoong First Nation. Located about 350 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay, Fort Hope is accessible only by air in the summer months. The school has an enrolment of about 350 students in kindergarten to Grade 9.

Jerome discovered opportunities for teachers through Teach For Canada, a nonprofit organization that works with schools in remote communities to promote, prepare and support teachers. Jerome learned about Teach For Canada through her contacts at Brock.

Before arriving in Fort Hope on Aug. 24, Jerome and other Teach for Canada recruits participated in a three-week preparation course in Thunder Bay. Jerome had an opportunity to meet some of the teachers already stationed in Fort Hope and to learn about First Nations education.

"There were some fears," Jerome acknowledged. "But I feel very well prepared because of the program."

During their time in Thunder Bay, Jerome and her colleagues learned about Indigenous world views and colonial history.

"We built a sweat lodge, which was amazing and then we sweated in it," said Jerome. "We had Indigenous ceremonies to prepare us with the spirituality."

The teacher recruits learned that Indigenous education requires a holistic approach.

"You want to embed their culture in your teachings," she said. "So if you want to assess something, you try and incorporate their world views into whatever you’re trying to assess."

For example, Jerome recently asked her students which one of the seven grandfather teachings they connect with and which one they think is the most important. In the Ojibwa culture, the values of wisdom, truth, honesty, bravery, humility, respect and love are known as the grandfather teachings. Many residents of Fort Hope still speak the traditional Ojibwa language.

Jerome said a holistic approach to teaching also encompasses the students’ academics, emotional and spiritual needs, as well as mental health.

After completing her Teach for Canada training, Jerome had a 25-hour train ride to Sioux Lookout, followed by a flight in a 12-seat aircraft to Fort Hope.

Jerome, who graduated as a history major, teaches all of the core subjects, including social studies, math, English, science, art, music and drama. She also plans to help coach a local girls hockey team this fall.

"I come from a hockey family," said Jerome, who played for the Stoney Creek Sabres in her teenage years.

After just one week on the job, Jerome is still getting to know her students and the community. She took her students on a walk on Sept. 8, to learn more about the area and their lives. Jerome also asked her students to write her a letter about the goals they hope to achieve over the coming year.

"I knew (the job) was going to challenge me and I feel like the students will eventually warm up to me," said Jerome.

Along with the girls hockey team, Fort Hope has a variety of recreational programs to help keep youth engaged, like a baseball team, an after-school program and events at the community hall. Fort Hope also hosts the Rez Games, which includes fishing derbies, bingo, races and dances for the kids. Families also participate in an annual powwow and a spring hunt.

Jerome said Teach for Canada's preparation was very thorough in the area of mental health.

By making a two-year commitment to live and work in Fort Hope, Jerome hopes to encourage her students to open up about any challenges they might be facing.

"It’s really important to me to decrease the education gap between Indigenous students and non-Indigenous and their graduation rates," said Jerome. "If I can get these students to continue on in high school and encourage them to go to post-secondary, it would be amazing."

Jerome praised the work of Teach For Canada, which continues to provide her with resources and ongoing support. She is one of four Teach for Canada teachers stationed in Fort Hope.

"It's an amazing opportunity," she said.

From Stoney Creek to Fort Hope, Rebecca Jerome's First Nations first teaching job is an opportunity of a lifetime

Community Sep 08, 2017 by Mike Pearson Stoney Creek News

Rebecca Jerome has travelled more than 1,100 kilometres to land her first teaching job. For Jerome, who graduated as a teacher candidate from Brock University in June, her first teaching post is an opportunity of a lifetime.

The Stoney Creek native is leading a 12-student Grade 7 class at John C. Yesno Education Centre in Fort Hope, Ontario, also known as Eabametoong First Nation. Located about 350 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay, Fort Hope is accessible only by air in the summer months. The school has an enrolment of about 350 students in kindergarten to Grade 9.

Jerome discovered opportunities for teachers through Teach For Canada, a nonprofit organization that works with schools in remote communities to promote, prepare and support teachers. Jerome learned about Teach For Canada through her contacts at Brock.

Before arriving in Fort Hope on Aug. 24, Jerome and other Teach for Canada recruits participated in a three-week preparation course in Thunder Bay. Jerome had an opportunity to meet some of the teachers already stationed in Fort Hope and to learn about First Nations education.

"There were some fears," Jerome acknowledged. "But I feel very well prepared because of the program."

During their time in Thunder Bay, Jerome and her colleagues learned about Indigenous world views and colonial history.

"We built a sweat lodge, which was amazing and then we sweated in it," said Jerome. "We had Indigenous ceremonies to prepare us with the spirituality."

The teacher recruits learned that Indigenous education requires a holistic approach.

"You want to embed their culture in your teachings," she said. "So if you want to assess something, you try and incorporate their world views into whatever you’re trying to assess."

For example, Jerome recently asked her students which one of the seven grandfather teachings they connect with and which one they think is the most important. In the Ojibwa culture, the values of wisdom, truth, honesty, bravery, humility, respect and love are known as the grandfather teachings. Many residents of Fort Hope still speak the traditional Ojibwa language.

Jerome said a holistic approach to teaching also encompasses the students’ academics, emotional and spiritual needs, as well as mental health.

After completing her Teach for Canada training, Jerome had a 25-hour train ride to Sioux Lookout, followed by a flight in a 12-seat aircraft to Fort Hope.

Jerome, who graduated as a history major, teaches all of the core subjects, including social studies, math, English, science, art, music and drama. She also plans to help coach a local girls hockey team this fall.

"I come from a hockey family," said Jerome, who played for the Stoney Creek Sabres in her teenage years.

After just one week on the job, Jerome is still getting to know her students and the community. She took her students on a walk on Sept. 8, to learn more about the area and their lives. Jerome also asked her students to write her a letter about the goals they hope to achieve over the coming year.

"I knew (the job) was going to challenge me and I feel like the students will eventually warm up to me," said Jerome.

Along with the girls hockey team, Fort Hope has a variety of recreational programs to help keep youth engaged, like a baseball team, an after-school program and events at the community hall. Fort Hope also hosts the Rez Games, which includes fishing derbies, bingo, races and dances for the kids. Families also participate in an annual powwow and a spring hunt.

Jerome said Teach for Canada's preparation was very thorough in the area of mental health.

By making a two-year commitment to live and work in Fort Hope, Jerome hopes to encourage her students to open up about any challenges they might be facing.

"It’s really important to me to decrease the education gap between Indigenous students and non-Indigenous and their graduation rates," said Jerome. "If I can get these students to continue on in high school and encourage them to go to post-secondary, it would be amazing."

Jerome praised the work of Teach For Canada, which continues to provide her with resources and ongoing support. She is one of four Teach for Canada teachers stationed in Fort Hope.

"It's an amazing opportunity," she said.