Hillside students & staff head to Finland for unique educational adventure!
Posted on September 26th, 2018
On Oct 6, four Grade 12 students and three Hillside teachers will journey to Finland for a one-week ATA sponsored educational exchange as part of the Finland-Alberta (FINAL) partnership program! The partnership, established in 2010, is based on the premise that two high-performing jurisdictions should learn from one another. For more than three years, Finland has sent teachers and principals from five high schools to Alberta and Alberta has sent teachers and principals from five high schools to Finland.
Each exchange has allowed the partners to learn more about the other’s education system. Among other initiatives, Alberta representatives have focused on differences in high school delivery and support structures for program delivery; Finnish representatives have focused on such issues as school safety and why Alberta students enjoy going to school. In 2012, the program was expanded to include student exchanges.
Hillside Grade 12 students: Rylan Jones, Kirsten Stewart, Payton Arnold and David Cyr will join Principal Darlene Wood and teachers, Matt Staples and Kim Caron in contributing to the FINAL program. Students will experience Finnish life and culture while residing with host families and attending a Finnish school. Teachers and administrators will in turn stay with their Finnish counterparts enhancing the opportunity for learning.
Students will be directly involved in informing educational change through feedback and sharing experiences. Teachers and school leaders will examine ways of improving their schools through collaborative inquiry, development activities and shared exemplary practices.
Why Finland? Finland’s education and school system consistently comes in at the top of international rankings based on combined data such as graduation rates and international test results. Both of our countries share common values and goals for education and for community life https://read.bi/2N3Ifw8.
Hillside Jr/Sr High is the only Alberta school bringing students to this round of the exchange.
Principal Darlene Wood shares, "This is an opportunity for the entire community of Hillside Jr/Sr High School and our partners to come to a deeper understanding of supporting all learners. We are excited that our students have the opportunity to learn about the Finnish culture, the local context and the larger political/educational structure, and to bring this learning back and expand our world view. We've been fortunate to be able to offer and participate in many international learning experiences at Hillside and it always makes our school community richer."
Mrs. Caron, one of the Hillside teachers also going, is looking forward to learning about Finnish instructional practice especially as it applies to Math teaching and learning:
“We’re reviewing our Math curriculum and instruction. We hear how great the Finnish system is and how good their results are so I’m really interested to see how instruction and assessment work in Finland.”
The Hillside contingent will meet with the full cohort of five Alberta schools and 5 Finnish schools at a Summit in Helsinki on October 8 where they will work in teams to gather and share both the teacher and student voice.
Payton Arnold, one of the students attending shares, “I was surprised when Ms. Wood told us we had a chance to go to Finland, I don’t know much about the country so I’m really excited and interested to learn about the culture and how daily life is different.”
Following the Summit, the group will take a six hour bus ride from Helsinki to their partner town and school.
“This will be my first time overseas, and my first time away from my parents,” shared HSH student David Cyr. “I’m excited to learn about how things are over there, the cultural differences, how they deal with daily life, what school is like. As a Métis individual, I am connected with my culture and this will give me a greater understanding of another culture.”
Finnish schools in turn will come to Alberta in May 2019, at which time Hillside Jr/Sr High will host a Finnish contingent of staff and students. Alberta and Finland administration will report on the exchange at ULead.
FINAL is a 3 year project. Hillside will return to Finland twice within the next three years of the partnership, providing additional opportunity for different HSH students and teachers to experience education on an international level and to continue to contribute to this important work.