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Education Minister Chats with Students about Rural Education

June 28, 2012

On June 11, Newfoundland and Labrador's Minister of Education, the Honourable Clyde Jackman, welcomed 43 intermediate/secondary students back to campus following a four week rural internship placement.

After a brief introduction by the Dean of Education, Dr. Kirk Anderson, students discussed the rural internship program, their experiences, and life on their journey to becoming a teacher. They voiced opinions and shared stories with the minister who shared stories and opinions of his own with the group.

"I didn't think kids like that existed anymore," said one student who had been placed at Baccalieu Collegiate in Old Perlican. "The kids out there were saintly. I'll definitely go back to a rural community."

Another student, placed at Gros Morne Academy in Rocky Harbour, echoed those sentiments: "I felt like I was being treated like a king every day."

Many similar stories were told, and than one student suggested the Bachelor of Education program should add a mandatory rural internship. For his part, Minister Jackman didn't disagree.

"There's a lot to be offered in the rural part of this province. Really, there is. The best job I ever had was principal of a school of 150 kids. You truly do make a difference," he said.

One of the more interesting exchanges came between Minister Jackman and two students who undertook rural internships in Natuashish, Labrador.

"We flew in on a plane smaller than a bus. I was terrified." The students went on to discuss the cultural experiences they had, and how they became a part of the community. They recalled participating in an Innu sweat lodge. There was no doubt in the mind of either student that they would return. "Definitely," one said of going back. "They're some of the sweetest kids ever."

Overall, despite some students stating their initial challenges adapting to the culture or isolation of the rural environments, the majority of the feedback was positive.

Before concluding, Minister Jackman reminded the rural interns that the experience may not be for everyone, but that it provides skill in adaptability. He praised them for their work in schools and thanked them for meeting with him.

Dr. Anderson said later: "it's significant that the minister has shared this time with us today. The rural internship program is an important experience in teacher development, and the support and continued commitment of the government for this effort is of great assistance."

The enthusiastic comments of rural interns and the dynamic meeting with Minister Jackman attest to the fact the tenth offering of the rural internship program was a success for all partners in the program.