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Timberlea Public to Launch MicroSociety this Fall - A First in Fort McMurray

Timberlea Public to Launch MicroSociety this Fall - A First in Fort McMurray

L-R: Back - Principal Waleed Najmeddine, Chelsa MacKinnon, Timberlea teacher, and Tammy O'Brien with her daughter (pink shirt)L-R: Back - Principal Waleed Najmeddine, Chelsa MacKinnon, Timberlea teacher, and Tammy O'Brien with her daughter (pink shirt)

When Tammy O’Brien moved to Fort McMurray last year, finding a good school for her daughter was a priority. She visited several across the city, and Timberlea Public became an immediate choice. Now, she has pitched an innovative program called MicroSociety, which starts this fall at the school.

“Within about 10 minutes of walking in the door we were excited for our daughter to attend Timberlea Public. The handprints of graduates down the halls welcomed us, and the community plus school pride was evident. What impressed us was the kindness of the office staff, the opportunity to sit and talk with the principal, Mr. Najmeddine, and visit the innovative classroom of teacher, Mrs. Chelsa MacKinnon. We knew this school was for our daughter.”

Founded in the USA in the 1990s, MicroSociety is a thriving, modern-day, mini-metropolis, with students taking on real-world roles and responsibilities of government officials, business owners and managers, law enforcement, non-profit work, and participating in all aspects of a consumer marketplace. Timberlea Public will be the first in Fort McMurray to offer this unique educational experience.

O’Brien pitched it because her daughter, Payton, who is in grade one now, was part of Aspen Heights MicroSociety in Red Deer.  

“Every day she would come home excited about her job and tell us she was a scientist because she worked in the ‘Mad Lab’ creating slime for market days. She would explain in great detail how the slime was produced; how much slime was needed for market days and how much she was getting paid to make the slime. She was always so proud of the work she did and the money she earned to go shopping on her market days. We were impressed watching our Kindergarten student show commitment to her job, school and community.  We watched as she grew in ways we never expected. She was learning how to use the curriculum in a real-world environment.”

During her school tour, O’Brien noticed “jobs” posted by Mrs. MacKinnon in her class, and asked if she’d heard about MicroSociety.

“I explained how students thrived having 'real world' experiences and were empowered to take chances, they were inspired to open businesses and give back to the community. I was excited at the prospect that Timberlea Public would be the northernmost MicroSociety and the first in Fort McMurray. This school was already alive with school and community spirit, I believe MicroSociety will enhance what is already so apparent within Timberlea, positive peer culture, innovation and community pride,” she explained.

“I imagine these students will be pioneers in our future community. I believe they will be business owners, government officials, artists, police, financial advisers, engineers, social workers, community members, and visionaries. I am excited that MicroSociety is coming to Timberlea Public and looking forward to see the society that our children will be creating,” O’Brien noted.

Waleed Najmeddine, Principal, Timberlea Public School is enthusiastic to launch the program. When he shared it with school staff, senior administration and the FMPSD Board of Trustees, everyone was in support immediately.

“The main reasons I became interested in MicroSociety is that it looked like something that teachers, students, and parents would really find meaningful and engaging. An engaged teacher means engaged students, and engaged students will be much more likely to succeed at school,” he noted.

“After meeting with students at Parkland Village School (Spruce Grove), it was abundantly obvious that they took their roles seriously and were trying their best to make their business ventures work, learning how to navigate employees, customers, etc. The roles they took on were also very much like the real world equivalents. They had to develop laws, policies as a society, create a resume, apply for a job, hire and fire people, etc. This approach builds basic skills from a very young age, but also at appropriate levels of student understanding at each age level,” explained Najmeddine, who has been with the District for 11 years.

MicroSociety will be built into the school day for all Timberlea Public students, and no special registration is required. However, you have to be a registered student at the school to access the program.

Register here.

For more information, visit https://timberlea.fmpsdschools.ca/, or call the school at 780-743-5771.