Eager to begin their learning, toddlers and their parents made their way to Max Turyk Elementary School last week for the École Sophie-Morigeau (ESM) kindergarten open house.
The Fernie francophone school has been expanding since it opened in September 2013.
This year, the school has a total of 17 children, with plans to introduce six new children to the kindergarten class in September.
“[Children and their parents] can come and visit the school, learn about the program and what the school has to offer,” ESM principal Sophie Lemieux said.
Unlike French immersion programs throughout the Elk Valley, EMS focuses on French as a culture and way of life, rather than just a language.
“The fact that there’s a French school in Fernie, it’s a big thing,” noted Lemieux. “When you’re francophone or your spouse is francophone, you certainly want your kids to keep learning about your culture, the language and to open their minds towards other cultures and other people.”
Lemieux noted that the majority of the children already know each other prior to entering the school, as Fernie is such a small, connected community. As a small francophone school, ESM works to show parents the benefits of having their children in that type of environment.
“We have all the benefits of a small school,” Lemieux said, adding that this includes the teachers knowing all of the students and what their needs and strengths are.
ESM currently has two teachers educating kindergarten, Grade 2 and Grade 3 children.
“It’s nice because last year we only had one teacher,” Lemieux noted. “Now we have more of a team, they work together.”