MABOU: Come September, Taigh Sgoile na Drochaide, North America’s first Gaelic immersion school will open their doors to primary students in Inverness County.
The school, which will operate independently of the province’s public school system, has been designed to provide an environment to learn and develop the Gaelic culture and language.
“We’re opening this coming September with a primary cohort,” Kenneth MacKenzie, the school’s working group coordinator told The Reporter. “All the curriculum will be delivered through Gaelic, it’ll be targeted at building that language ability in the kids.”
Beyond the language, he said there will be a focus on the Gaelic culture, including the Gaelic world view, literature and history.
“I wish a school such as this had been available to me years ago – it would have been so advantageous,” Gaelic learner and recording artist Cookie Rankin said. “I welcome this endeavour and congratulate those who are working so hard to accomplish their goal.”
The school plans on starting with an inaugural class of eight, and intends on adding a grade each successive year, building to an approximate 30 student, P-4 school within five years.
“About one-third of the province has Gaelic ancestry, and that culture is still alive over 200 years after landing here, which is a miracle of itself,” MacKenzie said. “We think it’s about time we have the opportunity to educate our youth through the language and not just as a subject.”
He said there’s been a great revitalization over the past 15 years, which has recently seen a trickle-down effect locally, and highlighted it’s a really good time in the Mabou area.
The initiative comes from the grassroots work of parents and community members after it was established a priority at the community level, and finds support from Comhairle na Gàidhlig and Colaisde na Gàidhlig (the Gaelic College), with the immersion school being housed at Beinn Mhabu (Mabou Hill College).
According to a release, the school will deliver its curriculum primarily through the Montessori methodology, which focuses on a child’s innate desire and ability to learn and where balanced attention is given to the intellectual, physical, emotional and spiritual development of all children.
“This is part of the story of a people and a community defining how they want to live, to raise their children and to contribute to the world,” MacKenzie said. “To help our youth to find their own selves within the context of culture and heritage, so that they may show up in the world in a bigger way.”
To assist in keeping the price of tuition at an accessible rate for parents the school is embarking on a major, private fundraising campaign.
“It’ll be a fraction of what regular private schooling would be in Nova Scotia,” MacKenzie said. “We’re hoping that money isn’t a barrier for any family or child who wants to attend.”
The school will be primarily privately funded with a fundraising drive underway through the Community Foundation of Nova Scotia. Further information can be obtained at: www.taighsgoile.ca.