Connecting Students with the Community

This month, we are launching a program called Riverside Connects.  In essence, we have decided to use technology (Skype, Face Time, Google Plus) to connect experts from the field with students in our classrooms.  Our rationale for doing this is to create more meaning and relevance to what we are doing in our classrooms with the intention of connecting our students with people they may not otherwise have the opportunity to meet.  We recognize that most people working have very little time to leave their jobs to meet with students in our school.  For example, it’s unlikely that a doctor can leave their practice or a hospital to speak with our students given their responsibilities and schedules.  However, most experts are able to give up 10-15 minutes in front of a computer screen to interact with our learners.  Thus, the concept of Riverside Connects was born. 

The format for these video conferences is quite simple.  They are 10-15 minutes in length and intended to be interactive.  They may follow the format of a question and answer or show and tell.  Students may get mentorship by asking for guidance to a particular problem or issue they are working on in class.  The expert can present, mentor, or receive input from our students on projects in which they are working on in the field.  Through Riverside Connects, we want to create a network for our students to be connected with positive role models outside the school. 

Staff Skyping with Alec Couros, Professor of Educational Technology and Media at the University of Regina

Over the past four months, Beth David, our Career Facilitator and Gary Horton, our Department Head of Staff and Student Mentoring, have been connecting with experts in various fields to see if they would be interested in presenting and interacting with our students through a virtual platform.  What was so enlightening to us was that the majority of responents we contacted, gave us an overwhelming “yes” to particpate in this program!  We now have Professors from universities and colleges across Canada in fields such as Biophysics, Chemistry, Medicine, Molecular Biology, Neurobiology, Physics, and Pharmacology.  We have Engineers, Lawyers, Olympians, Astronomers, CEOs, Managers, Physicians, Human Resource Specialists, and even the Mayor of Port Coquitlam ready to be brought into our classrooms via technology.  Our database is growing daily! 

Two weeks ago, Ms. Kim and Ms. Ross Skyped Port Coquitlam Mayor, Greg Moore into their classrooms.  The students presented the Mayor with a series of questions prior to the video conference.  He then answered their questions and engaged in a question and answer period with the students.  They had the opportunity to ask him about life as a politician, the hours he works, and the issues he deals with at City Hall.  What was particularly exciting was that at the end of the presenation, the Mayor invited students to ask him more questions via Twitter or  Facebook so that they could connect further.  One student even indicated that he is now considering a career as a politician!  It’s hard to imagine whether our students would have been able to have this kind of experience a few years ago when this technology was not available.  We are excited about where this is heading and look forward to meeting many more incredible people in all kinds of fascinating fields.

Are you working in an interesting field?  Do you have a desire to enrich the lives of our youth?  Contact Gary Horton at and we would be happy to introduce you to some inquisitive students.  You could be the next star of Riverside Connects!

We are looking forward to sharing more information about Riverside Connects with parents at the next PAC meeting on November 20th when Gary Horton will present a video conference call with…stay tuned!


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