On the surface, Southeast Collegiate (SEC) is a place of learning that provides an excellent high school education for Indigenous students from all over Manitoba who choose SEC for its programming. But upon closer inspection, you quickly discover it is so much more.
“Students increase their self-esteem and develop the courage to do what they want to do,” says Sheryl McCorrister, Director/Principal of Southeast Collegiate. The school, located on the southern edge of Winnipeg, is a fully-contained campus that is home to just over 160 students in grades 10 – 12. For 10 months of the year, Southeast Collegiate is their home, providing them with a place to live, an education, recreation, SEC Teen Clinic, extra-curricular activities and a social network. “The students are leaving home when they come here. That’s a big step for a 14 year old,” adds McCorrister. “This school is really their surrogate family.”
Aside from the standard provincial curriculum, Southeast Collegiate teaches life skills. Indigenous and truth and reconciliation studies have been implemented across the curriculum. Courses in power mechanics and auto CAD and digital film, as well as their main courses are all delivered in a nurturing and supportive environment. Indigenous culture is used in virtually every course offered and traditional ceremonies and visits from elders are essential for the growth and development of the students. ACU has been a financial partner of the school since its early stages. Initial funding and on-going financing has brought the two partners closer together. ACU has provided students with bank accounts which helps them prepare for post-secondary life outside SEC. “ACU has always helped us when we needed it. They are dedicated and there for us, and that means a lot,” adds McCorrister.
ACU has always helped us when we needed it. They are dedicated and there for us, and that means a lot.
Currently, ACU is helping to finance a brand new school being built on the campus grounds. It is set to open in January, 2018 and will feature larger more modern dormitories; new classrooms including life skills classrooms that will provide evening programming for the students; and a new regulation size gym. The success of Southeast Collegiate is undeniable. Its graduation rate is 97% with an average grade of 83%. It boasts a retention rate of over 80% with an average graduating class size of 35 students. What are they doing right? “We continually ask the students what they want out of their school,” says McCorrister. “We work in teams and teach the kids about the importance of teamwork in daily life. Our goal is to make learning fun. We want the students to want to be here,” she adds. All indications are that Southeast Collegiate is succeeding, and ACU is proud to be involved.