By Paul Dickinson
When it comes to childcare, the T'it'q'et Daycare and Preschool is one of the best.
The school is being highly praised by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) as one of the top First Nations-run preschool and daycare centres in B.C. The assessor, INAC's Daryl Ashdown, recently visited Lillooet to gather research for his report on the T'it'q'et childcare centre.
The assessment, which is done every two years, determines the allocation of federal funds to First Nations-run childcare centres across the country. The criteria included assessment and reporting of student progress, Physical Education, Fine Arts, Sciences, and the school growth plan.
"The staff here is a huge contributing factor to having this great assessment," says T'it'q'et Daycare and Preschool Society board member Laureen Weget. "This is the place where I want to send my kids."
The daycare is currently finishing up for the season, and Ashdown commended the staff for their enthusiasm in his report.
"It is rare to observe a teaching team exude so much energy in the month of June," he wrote. "Visitors are struck by the eagerness and enthusiasm displayed by both the students and staff members.
"T'it'q'et has a great deal to be proud of and has been encouraged by the assessor to brag more loudly' about the high quality of its programs, facility, and professional team."
Daycare teacher Beth MacLellan, who works alongside fellow teachers Phyllis Doss, Corena Tom, Marcella Payne, and Peggy LaRochelle, as well as manager Andrea MacLellan, says the assessment is "wonderful news."
"This is such a big lift at the end of the school year," MacLellan notes, "and Daryl was great. We all felt at ease with him here, it just felt natural."
MacLellan notes that the student achievement numbers are showing the benefits of the daycare system as well.
"In 2001, First Nations students were on par with non-First Nations students for the first time in Cayoosh Elementary School's history," she states. "That is fantastic news."
One parent, Tammy Hale, is a newcomer to Lillooet and finds the school "very accommodating."
"The kids really feel safe and comfortable here," she says. "My son doesn't want to leave when I come to get him."
The school opened in 1999, and has since provided daycare and preschool services to all local children. Currently, there are 30 students enrolled at T'it'q'et.
Bridge River Lillooet News June 22nd 2005.USLCES Home page.