VICTORIA, BC – École Peter Greer Elementary School’s $6,000 grant from the Southern Interior Construction Association’s (SICA) Fund in late December of 2018 has continued to benefit the school and community over a year following the original announcement. The positive results stemming from the grant is a testament to teacher Clint Maltais and his efforts to leave a positive impact on not only his students, but his entire community as a whole.
The SICA Fund was created in 2018 to support regional initiatives in British Columbia’s Southern Interior and to encourage youth to enter the construction industry. Maltais approached SICA with a grant application in 2018 – it was a source of funding that he believed could have a positive outcome for his school’s students.
“I think what has surprised us the most has been the lab’s broad appeal to the students in our class and the interest it has generated among students and teachers in our schools and in the district,” explained Maltais. “We suspected that it might be an alternative access point for students, and it was incredibly powerful to see who uses and continues to use it as a way of sharing their knowledge and skills.”
Since receiving the grant, the elementary school has purchased a variety of hand and small power tools to outfit a design lab. The upgraded lab has enabled over 100 Grade 4–6 students to experience an introduction to the trades and the ability to create a number of individual projects that they are able to take home or donate to the local community. The school has endeavored to have a community impact with as many of their projects as possible.
Students have built bat houses and a pollinator hotel with the help from the Women in Trades Team at Okanagan College, and have had them installed in the community’s local green space. They were also able to build a garden box to donate to the nearby Lake Country Lodge and Manor.
“Students have been recognizing the value of creating something that is installed in the community,” added Maltais. “This year, our class has built and installed a community library box that is accessible to families around the school. One of the projects we just completed was building and installing birdhouses for Western Bluebirds with a Grade 1 and 2 class. Students also enjoy building personal projects that they can take home.”
The school has been able to open up the design lab to welcome additional classes to the space and the school has plans for older students to work with some of the primary students on projects in 2020. Maltais is determined to continue developing the lab so as many people experience its benefits as possible.
“Our intention is to continue making the space available to all classes within our school, and offering a replicable model for other schools,” Maltais said.
In addition to opening up the lab space for teachers, Maltais and the school are expanding their exposure of trades opportunities to educators at the elementary school level. Alongside teachers Matt Olson and Sarah Fletcher, Maltais will be offering four ‘Sawdust and Supper’ workshops in the district, where they will share the knowledge they have acquired. The workshops will walk participating teachers through small projects that they can share with their students, with the intention of building teacher’s confidence in using tools with students and providing tool kits to those teacher’s schools.
“We thought providing tools was a pretty critical component of these workshops so that the teachers not only have the knowledge, but also the physical means to do these projects,” Maltais concluded.
the Construction Foundation of BC
The Construction Foundation builds community through engagement in charitable initiatives and a commitment to industry focused education and research initiatives that benefit all British Columbians. For more information, please visit www.constructionfoundation.ca.