Rural Saskatchewan school hub for province’s distance education

Watch above: A small community in central Saskatchewan is educating the masses through online teaching.  Aaron Streck finds out how Kenaston instructors managed to save its facility and fill a void.

SASKATOON – Completing your education used to require you physically being in class. Now, students are able to do their studies as they follow their dreams and a rural Saskatchewan school is helping make it possible.

It might look like a typical rural Saskatchewan school on the outside but inside there are 40 teachers to 115 students.

“Our uniqueness comes from all the kids that are outside the building, so about 400 that are doing the schooling full time online with us everything from kindergarten to Grade 12 and then we would have about 4,000 kids part time taking a course from us pretty much anywhere in the province,” said Sun West School Division Technology Superintendent Darren Gasper.

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Kenaston School is the distance learning hub for Saskatchewan.

“We make education fit the student, as opposed to having the student fit into the education,” said Distance Learning Administrative Assistant Carol Lewis.

“One of the best things for us is getting to work with families that are in unique situations and learn about their situation, how we can help them and work together,” said Gasper.

From a Regina family who picked up and began travelling around the world, to a 14-year-old Yorkton girl chasing the motocross finish line in the United States, distance learning is allowing them all to live their dreams.

“The racing here and the training it’s intense but you need to be able to get your school work done, so it’s extremely hard if you’re in school so with this program you can do it at your own pace and when I’m back at home I usually get it all done,” said Kennedy Lutz, a motocross racer who is also a distance education student.

“The time management and organization skills are really necessary to be a successful online student,” said Dan Marsh, who is a distance learning teacher at Kenaston School.

Kenaston School and the Sun West School Division saw the opportunity to pick up distance learning eight years ago when the Ministry of Education chose to step out of that area.

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“Being a really small rural school division, we had a lot of needs at that time, declining enrollments in some of our small schools was pretty typical so we needed a solution to help support those schools,” said Gasper.

From a school in jeopardy of closing to a facility bursting at the seams, Kenaston School officials are now looking for a balance to continue serving the online community while ensuring local students receive the best education possible.

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