Family and Youth Program Coordinator
Roots of Empathy has been active in the Smoky River Region since 2008. The first instructor was Isabelle Dubrule, she hosted at Ecole Heritage.
The classroom teacher that year was Maryse Simone. Our Roots of Empathy records show that for the next year of programming, her son William was the Roots of Empathy “Teacher”.
In total, Maryse was a classroom teacher in three classes that had Roots of Empathy as part of their year.
This region has been very fortunate to be the host to six Roots of Empathy instructors who facilitated the program throughout the years – Isabelle Dubrule, Victoria Champion, Colby Robbins; myself, Crystal Marschner; and our newest instructor, Marie Anne Jones.
Each school division has had the Roots of Empathy Program in their school at one point or another.
The 2016-2017 year has been extra special, not only were there three programs running simultaneously as well as having one of those programs in a Grade 6 class!
Marie-Anne Jones facilitated Ecole Providences Grade 1 class and Baby Gabriel Noel was the tiny teacher. His mother, Jaclyn Noel, said he loved being able to see the children.
During their last visit, Gabriel put on quite the show and was able to crawl and pull himself to standing. The children loved seeing this happen in front of their eyes.
As well, over in Ecole Routhier the Grade 6E class had Baby Jayce Griffin with his mom Melissa Griffin. Baby Jayce taught the children that emotions were natural and needed to be expressed. The students fell in love with him, and when asked what the best part of Roots of Empathy class most of the students responded by saying when baby Jayce came to their classroom.
The Grade 1 Class was host to Baby Rosalyn Blanchette and her mother Kristen Blanchette. The Grade 1 class watched as Baby Rosalyn taught them they everyone develops at their own pace. They loved to sing old McDonald to her, and by the end, she was singing the song in her own way with them.
Last night (May 24), was the first community celebration in which the public could attend and celebrate the mom who volunteered their time to bring their baby into the classroom so that the program was a success.
We honoured the moms, the teachers, support staff and principals. Each has an important role to play in the running of this program. Without the support of the school, teacher and parents, this program would not make a difference in the lives of these students.
For more information on the program, or how to be involved as a mom and baby, please call Marschner at the Smoky River FCSS office at (780) 837-2220.