Algonquin Avenue Public School in Thunder Bay plans to use its Staples for Education Supply Drive donation of about $4,615.91 to support culturally responsive and land-based initiatives. The Staples store in Thunder Bay collaborated with the Kiwanis Club of Thunder Bay to raise a total of $9231.83 for the local Staples for Education Supply Drive, which was presented to two schools from Lakehead Public Schools and the Thunder Bay Catholic District School Board, Algonquin Avenue Public School and Bishop Gallagher Senior Elementary School, on Oct. 13 to use for purchasing classroom supplies.
“We’re going to use those funds from Staples to purchase technology and that technology is going to help us out with all our plans to work on culturally responsive teaching practices and land-based learning opportunities for our students and recording those opportunities with the use of technology,” says Darren Lentz, principal at Algonquin Avenue Public School, noting that the school has a high self-identified Indigenous population. “Things like iPads will allow us to document the learning on the land and the cultural activities that we do.”
Lentz says the students will be able document their learning with the use of the iPad and download it onto the Seesaw app that the teachers use for communication with parents.
“So we have better communication with parents through the use of that technology, and the ability to record and to document their land-based learning,” Lentz says.
Lisa Thoms, general manager at Staples in Thunder Bay, says this year’s donations were the highest total she has seen during her 13 years at the store.
“With Kiwanis, they’ve been doing this for 20 years now with Staples, and Staples all across Ontario partnered with Kiwanis this year to do this supply drive, so it’s a tremendous partnership and community endeavour and we’re proud of that relationship we had longstanding before the rest of Staples joined this year,” Thoms says. “This allows us to give back to the local community in a meaningful way, and that supports our Staples company purpose which is to inspire people to work smarter, learn more and grow every day.”
Thoms says the Staples staff asked customers at the registers for donations to the local Staples for Education Supply Drive every day this past year.
“That’s why the total is so high,” Thoms says. “This supports the core values of Staples — we have four core values, the first one is we own it. The second one is we are partners. The third one is we are one team. And the last one is we care.”
Bishop Gallagher Senior Elementary School principal Frank Lacaria says the local Staples for Education Supply Drive donation was a “nice surprise.”
“Coming out of a remote learning world, it’s always nice to have a little bit of extra money that we can spend on our school and in this case specifically for our students to help them with their learning,” Lacaria says. “They have a relationship with devices at home and they need to have that same relationship at school — I think it’s vital in their learning environment especially if they can relate with their teachers in regards to leveraging digital in ways that will only help their learning and extend their learning.”
Lentz says Algonquin Avenue Public School recently held a Reconciliation Week, which included an Elder sharing her story, a wild ricing demo in collaboration with Hammarskjold High School’s Kendomang Zhagodenamnon Lodge and the picking of spruce roots for making baskets.
“We’ve been busy doing lots of really cool things,” Lentz says. “(The students) love it, they love the hands-on aspect, but then they also love the engagement part of it. We’re trying to get kids back into school and back engaged in school and those kind of land-based experiential learning opportunities are what engage students.”