A Study of Two Exemplary Secondary Schools: Championing Social Justice Initiatives

Posted On Monday April 27, 2020

Two district secondary schools will be the subject of a new Thompson Rivers University research study into school-wide social justice initiatives. Sa-Hali Secondary as an example of an urban school, and Chase Secondary as an example of a rural school.

The study will be led by Dr. Manu Sharma, Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Education and Social Work. She is one of 18 researchers who received the 2020 Internal Research Fund awards from TRU. The fund provides a maximum of $100,000 annually to support research.

Dr. Sharma has taught in classrooms around the world, including Japan, Tanzania, Antigua, and Germany, and most recently at the University of Wisconsin before accepting her current position at TRU in August, 2019. From her perspective, School District No. 73 is doing a great job in embracing social justice initiatives that demonstrate values of inclusion, equity and diversity.

“Schools are the heart and soul of communities and thus often carry the responsibility to respond to community concerns,” she said. “Secondary schools are important in their contributions to helping students understand diversity, not only in terms of how each student sees and understands themselves but also how a wide range of diverse identities that reflect the greater diversity in society are accepted and embraced”.

She is grateful SD73 is very active in working to identify and address social justice issues.  

Dr. Sharma intends to explore Sa-Hali Secondary as an urban site because of its location, demographics, and social justice art-based initiatives alongside its other school-based social justice initiatives. Chase Secondary has been chosen as a rural site because of its location, demographics, focus on Indigenous history, culture and language initiatives and for its aims of inclusion.

She chose the two schools following an investigation of all the secondary schools in the district where she examined their websites, mission and values, school year learning plans, and other criteria including demographics and social justice based initiatives.

Her study has been delayed due to the pandemic, but she intends to begin the work in September. She hopes this research on secondary school social justice initiatives will become the basis for a wider study on a national scale, involving schools in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.

“The ultimate aim of this research study is to provide direction to all public schools who endeavor to be exemplary in their social justice initiatives to support their student body and our global world,” she said.


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