work carried out by George Manuel Institute for the Secwepemc Nation also known as the Shuswap Nation, funded by Canadian Culture Online program."> Chief Atahm School programs
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Present Day Programs at Chief Atahm School

Scraping birchbark and preparing to make baskets, circa 2003, Chief Atahm School

Presently Chief Atahm School implements Secwepemc Immersion for primary students from Nursery (age four) up to grade three. All subjects – math, science, reading, and writing – are taught in Secwepemctsin. The students enrolled in grades five and up take subjects in English and participate in Secwepemctsin classes along with English classes.

Throughout the existence of Chief Atahm School, the parents administered the program through the Tek’wmiple7 (law makers). Through this board, the parents take total responsibility for the education of their children and make all decisions regarding the school programs. The Elders are actively involved in the school program as teachers, mentors, and supporters. Without strong Elder support, the program would not be possible. Parents and community members show active involvement by participating in school events and cultural gatherings. Parents also expected to take part in the evening language lessons offered through the school.

 

An exciting spin-off is the resurgence of the Secwepemctsin. Grandparents are speaking the language to their grandchildren. When Elders and community members hear the children speaking Secwepemctsin and singing the songs, their hearts fill with joy and pride. Many community members had almost given up hope of restoring the almost forgotten language.

The students, parents, staff, and Elders have shown tremendous courage and perseverance in restoring and revitalizing Secwepemctsin. They serve as a real model to other communities wishing to restore their endangered languages.

Chief Atahm School has been featured on many documentaries and made many presentations at language conferences. The school has hosted many visitors wanting to learn more about implementing Immersion programs.

Chief Atahm School also offers professional development to language teachers. The courses vary from Total Physical Response methods, incorporating songs into programs, early childhood education focusing on language acquisition, and using technology for language teaching. The courses are based on years of experience in developing and implementing an Immersion program.

Chief Atahm School has found that non-fluent teaches mentoring with a fluent Elder is a successful way to enable the non-fluent teacher to become more proficient in the language. The teacher is exposed to the language all day working cooperatively with a fluent Elder which facilitates this process.

Chief Atahm School Curriculum Program

Chief Atahm School also administers an extensive curriculum development project to support the school program. Since Secwepemctsin is traditionally an oral language, no written resources existed. All written materials must be created and developed. The curriculum team at Chief Atahm has developed an extensive library of resources. They have translated stories from English, created original stories, documented traditional legends, translated math, science, and language teaching references. In addition, much historical research has been documented from the Elders, which includes picture files and video and audio recordings.

For more information about Chief Atahm School, contact Administrator Robert Matthew
Chief Atahm School
Chase, B. C.
Phone: 250-679-8837

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