Owner / Publisher Sue Hodgson Chats with Sam Gillan – Kennedy, Individual Learning Centre (ILC) & Continuing Education Student, and Wendy Walker, Principal, Continuing Education & ILC.
Can you tell us a bit about how your life changed when you had a child?
When I had my first child in 2014, my life changed drastically; I struggled a lot with not only being a first-time mom but also the fact that I had lost a lot of friends. I never felt like I fit in because I was “the 18-year-old with a baby.” It was a constant struggle of trying to get out and go do things but also not wanting to because I would be alone. My partner and I had struggled with him not being able to hold down a job and I had to go back to work when my daughter was only seven months old.
Why is it important to you to finish high school while your children are still young, thereby making it a lot tougher for you to do so?
I feel as though I would much rather get my schooling done and over with now than push it for another however many years and risk losing my motivation to do it. Even though it is tougher (oh my gosh is it tough), I feel that the toughness is temporary for a long-term achievement where I can be set up for success down the road.
What example do you think finishing high school while a young mom is setting for your children?
I feel the example that I would be setting for my children is that education is important, it is everywhere and if you work hard enough you can achieve your dreams. I want to be a role model; I know they won’t understand it now, but I hope one day they realize why I decided to come back. I didn’t wait until they were older when it might have been easier to manage their needs and my studies.
Who are some of the people in your life making up your support system while you go through this journey?
I have a lot of people who support me: my partner, Reid, is one of my biggest supporters and he has stuck by my side through all the ups and downs. There is also my mom, who has been ongoing throughout my life. My best friend, Caleigh, always manages to pick me up when I’m down and helps me to get through things by just being there. A good portion, if not all of my family, show their support in one way or another. The teachers and staff at the ILC campus who were here to support me six years ago continue to do so every day. Lastly, Stephanie Tiede and Meredith Barwick have helped me in every way they can since I met them last September.
How does the Individual Learning Centre (ILC) make it easier for you to complete your schooling?
ILC has not only been very accommodating in regards to my children, but they are also very understanding when it comes to the fact that it is very difficult to get homework done at home while trying to care for both of my girls. I appreciate the fact that I am able to work at my own pace and get things done on my own time. I find it very helpful that they have counsellors on site; I’ve never been one to talk to counsellors in the past but I find it very easy to open up and talk if I’m having an off day. Another big thing is the childcare centre that ILC has that runs through Beacon Community Services. I know that a lot of young moms struggle to find childcare that is near by and convenient, so having this on site is more than helpful.
(Questions posed to Wendy Walker, Principal, Continuing Education & ILC)
Can you give us a glimpse of what the ILC offers?
The Individual Learning Centre (ILC) “School of Choice” is part of the Saanich school district. We have two primary campuses, and two satellite locations on the Peninsula. We offer standard B.C. ministry Grade 9-12 courses. The focus is on core academics with students in a personalized program that honours their learning needs. Students work at their own pace, which means they can accelerate or slow down their course work as needed.
A very important aspect of the of ILC is the dual credit partnership with post secondary institutions. Students can take college level courses while still completing their high school education. On the Saanichton campus, we host the Vancouver Island University Hair program and the Camosun College Trades Sampler (TASK) program. Beacon Community has shared a long time partnership with SD 63 and we host the Beacon Community Preschool and Teen Motherhood & Education program and the Early Years centre.
How much need is there for the ILC program here on the Peninsula?
Five years ago we serviced around 220 students, whereas the 2018 snapshot shows we now service around 320 students. We have expanded to include two satellite locations to meet this growing requirement of learners. With mental health needs growing among our adolescent students, the demand for flexible, supportive wraparound learning options increases students’ opportunities for academic success.