Keewaytinook Internet high school gives First Nations students option to stay in home community


Internet high school gives First Nations students options

Keewaytinook Internet High School gives kids a chance stay in school without leaving their First Nation

Posted: Sep 17, 2014

Student and elder take part in the KiHS program in Poplar Hill First Nation

Student and elder take part in the KiHS program in Poplar Hill First Nation (Supplied photo)

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For many students in First Nations in northern Ontario, getting a secondary education means leaving their community and attending high school in Sioux Lookout or Thunder Bay.

That's not the case for some 300 students enrolled with the Keewaytinook Internet High School.

Darrin Potter

Darrin Potter is the principal of of the Keewaytinook Internet High School (Supplied photo)

Principal Darrin Potter said one advantage for students staying at home is the level of support from family and community. 

"There's a lot that can be said about the importance of having like a strong family and community base as you're developing in those important years of secondary schooling, [it's] the support that you need."

Potter said the internet school is currently offered in 13 communities but has partnerships with other First Nations to offer credit courses.

He said each community has a classroom which can be a room in an elementary school or in a separate building and there is a qualified Ontario teacher in each location

He added that computers and other technology, such as video conferencing, are available for the students who use them to submit all their work online.

Potter said the online experience also helps prepare his students for post-secondary education because they work independently, at their own pace with the guidance of a teacher .

"When a student comes into an online program they are developing a lot of skills for independent studies and independent work that maybe some other traditional schools are not developing as much," Potter said.

The operation of the school is not without challenges. Potter said getting adequate funding from Aboriginal Affairs is a annual concern.

He said another challenge is the attitude in some communities that kids have to leave their communities in order to get a secondary education.