NEW SD73 District Health Sciences Academy at Brocklehurst Secondary School

Posted On Friday February 09, 2024

Story provided by Assistant Superintendent Bill Hamblett, Director Rick Kienlein and District Vice Principal Kerry Gairdner,

In the 2022-2027 District Strategic Plan, Career Development Priority, we aim to ensure that every student has programming opportunities to explore their passions and consider related career and post-secondary education pathways.

Academies are educational programs that emphasize a particular sport, activity or subject area and meet the Ministry of Education and Child Care curricular criteria set out in the School Act. SD73 has multiple, long-standing (15 years), and well-loved academies: Aquatic and Dance Academies at Brocklehurst Middle School, Digital Arts Technology Academy (DATA) at Valleyview Secondary School, and Hockey Skills at Brocklehurst and Valleyview Secondary Schools.

Last year, when we engaged in the North Shore consultations about reconfiguring grades, we also learned what parents and staff most wanted for programming. One passion was healthcare career pathways – to learn about a wide variety of possible pathways such as becoming a nurse practitioner, nurse, therapist, and doctor.

Superintendent Nixon highlighted, “As a result of parents and staff expressing their interest in a health academy, I was appreciative of the extensive consultation with students done by the District Career Development team. They met with grades 9-11 students in each secondary and middle school and asked their opinions of the plan to expand district career programs and events.”

Director Kienlein explained, “Grade 10 and 11 students were informed about the proposed District Health Science Academy and asked to respond to two questions: Would you enroll in a District Health Sciences Academy in your grade 12 year?, Would you be willing to attend a different school in Semester 1, with the option of returning to your regular school in Semester 2, in order to attend the district academy?”

There was such an incredible response from students to support this academy that it was clear that we needed to progress and plan for it to start in the Fall 2024, “ shared Director Kienlein.

Assistant Superintendent Hamblett and Director Keinlein reported the results on students’ responses to the Board of Trustees in December 2023. They found that 396 students indicated interest in attending a district health sciences academy (234 grade 10 students; 162 grade 11 students) with 301 of these students indicating a willingness to move schools for one semester if required. Due to the strength of student voice on this matter, it was decided to move forward with planning the academy.

“We have posted and hired a 1.0 FTE District Health Science Academy Position of Special Responsibility to fully develop the Health Sciences Academy Program,” stated Assistant Superintendent Hamblett.

The proposed District Health Sciences Academy will build upon the foundations laid by the Discover Day in Health Care. The Discover Day in Health Care introduces 60 grades 10-12 students to the Health Care programs at TRU through experiencing the University’s Nursing Simulation Lab, the Respiratory Therapy Introductory Workshop and meeting both faculty and students. Students also take part in a career carousel where they meet a variety of professionals from Interior Health from medical imaging to physiotherapy.

About the proposed District Health Sciences Academy, District Vice Principal Gairdner shared, “I am excited with this mentorship opportunity for students that will provide them with first-hand chances to talk with professionals and ask them personally relevant questions.”

Principal Perry described the structure of the District Health Sciences Academy, “It will include 4, 120 hour courses within one semester, under the supervision of a certified teacher.” 

Principal Perry emphasized how having one teacher every day for a semester opens up many unique programming opportunities (field trips, guest speakers, job shadows) that can happen easily because of the flexibility of this schedule.

The courses include anatomy and physiology, career education, and work experience that meet graduation requirements. Emphasis will be placed upon hands-on learning through active student learning approaches that includes complex case management simulation and work experience.

Students will engage in role play projects, where theytake on the roles of a variety of health care professionals as they work to support a care plan for a simulated patient. Students will complete 120 hours of work experience in one or more healthcare provider settings where permitted or in simulated environments, and Career Life Connections 12 in which they will provide for the creation of a Capstone demonstration of learning including a health sciences post-secondary transition plan. This plan may include enrolling in one or more dual-credit courses with TRU in the second semester of a student’s grade 12 year as SD73 and TRU have an articulated dual credit course agreement through TRU Start.  

Students will be required to complete an application form to be submitted to the district Career Development Department. A proposed course fee of $400 will be levied to provide program enhancements such as specialized equipment, access to Health Science professionals who will inform the case studies, and field trips to a variety of community health care providers and health sciences occupational settings. Rural students (Clearwater Secondary School, Barriere Secondary School, Logan Lake Secondary School and Chase Secondary School) who are accepted into the program will be eligible to access the Rural Student Homestay Program.

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