Saskatchewan Community Schools Association

In 1981 an initial constitution and bylaws set out the objectives of the Saskatchewan Community Schools Association (SCSA), and members began to promote the community school principles: to communicate and disseminate information; to provide in-service opportunities; and to serve as a support network for members. During the early 1980s there were eleven Community Schools in Regina, Saskatoon, and Prince Albert. The SCSA membership consisted primarily of community school coordinators, who would meet at their own expense in a central location, usually on a Saturday in the community of Davidson. Coordinators relied on their peer group for support, using the gathering to discuss common issues and concerns related to their line of work. Under the leadership of Fay Stupnikoff, a community school coordinator in Prince Albert, the SCSA began to evolve and grow stronger.

Executive and general meetings were held on a regular basis, and a newsletter was written and distributed in order to achieve SCSA's objectives. The newsletter, still circulating, provides information and shares success stories from community school programs across the province. Annual provincial conferences were organized, and the attendance at the SCSA conferences soon climbed to over 600 participants. The SCSA has also co-hosted the National Conference for the Canadian Association of Community Education in Saskatoon in 1993 and 2002. In l996 the provincial government expanded the community school program, and SCSA membership increased; general meetings and conferences were now attracting school staff as well as parents, youth, and other community education partners. In 2000, representatives from Weyerhaeuser, an international pulp and paper company in Saskatchewan, approached the SCSA to form a partnership: the Planting Dreams Program was launched to help children in community schools, with an emphasis on supporting early childhood development opportunities with initiatives such as the “Readiness to Learn Backpack Project.” Each community school pre-kindergarten program received backpacks filled with interactive educational material to lend to small children and their families. In 2001, existing community schools received further recognition for their ideas and approaches in education when the Role of the School Task Force Final Report recommended that all provincial schools adopt the community school philosophy.

Maureen Strawson, Fay Stupnikoff