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Historical Perspective by Mr

Historical Perspective by Mr. Cyrus Journeau


ESSB provides education to those students requesting English services in the territory defined by regions 11, La Gaspésie-Îles-de-la-Madeleine, 09, Côte-Nord, and 01, Bas-Saint –Laurent.


Map 1: Location of ESSB schools.                                                         


English Education on the Gaspé Peninsula, the Magdalen Islands, and the North Shore of the St. Lawrence has experienced formidable change in structure and organization as each of these different areas slowly progressed toward amalgamation under one directorate – that of the Eastern Shores School Board, which occurred in July of 1998.


The Administrative structure has changed over the past ‘forty plus’ years from that of one school board in each small municipality, to the regionalization of these boards (on the coast) in July 1971, under the ‘Regional School Board of Gaspesia’, followed by the inclusion of the Magdalen Islands, under the newly formed ‘Gaspesia-The Islands School Board’ in 1992, and finally the amalgamation of all English language schools in the eastern part of the province under the jurisdiction of the present Eastern Shores School Board.


Experience has shown that change does not come without controversy and / or apprehension.  That has also proven true in the area of instruction.  With the changes in board reorganization over the years, came the changes in curriculum beginning in the area of Language Arts when the emphasis on teaching grammar gave way to creative composition and self-expression.  Criticism began to circumvent the system and questions were posed.  For example – “How could a graduate be prepared for post secondary education, prepare a c.v., or handle an interview without having the proper knowledge of grammar and sentence structure?  Where would employers find competent well-spoken employees?  Outside the province?  Our Quebec Educational System was indeed becoming a major deterrent in the employability process of our own English speaking clients.


However, oddly enough (or maybe not) time and experience proved these fears and criticisms to be groundless.  Why?  Because innovative teachers and principals introduced completely new methods of instruction, which instilled in students the desire to research, collaborate, and to present in an unprecedented manner.  The process of education became more exciting than mere learning by rote. 


This, now, has progressed to what has become the greatest change of all – that of the educational reform where the emphasis is on “cross-curricular” teaching.  “The teaching of any subject” is no longer restricted to a structured textbook in that area.  Innovative teaching is now seen at its best where the Eastern Shores School Board is at the forefront of the educational reform in Quebec.


How did we get there?  That point has been reached as a result of the close cooperation between the employer group and the teachers’ organization - which also has experienced great changes over the past four decades.  The Eastern Shores Teachers’ Association has grown from the individual professional associations to the syndicated form experienced today.  However, it must be noted that the professional aspect has left neither the heart of the teacher nor that of the organization.  This, of course, must be attributed to the dedicated nature of the teachers, as well as to the cooperation and sincerity of purpose shown by the presidents of the Association. There has always been the utmost respect and collaboration between employer and employee - an essential element in a territory as vast as that found in the jurisdiction of Eastern Shores School Board.


Undoubtedly, one of the consolidating factors of this trust and respect is the dispersion of such a sparse English population over such a vast area.  We are a minority group, not only in our Board territory, but in most of our communities as well.  Moreover, we are even culturally different within the regions of our own Anglophone Board.  The Islands culture is different from that on the peninsula, which differs from that on the North Shore of the St. Lawrence. 


Another problem with which we are constantly faced is the remoteness of our territory.  As well as being a major factor on the operational cost of our Board with respect to travel, communication and rendering services to the schools, it also serves as a definite deterrent to attracting teachers to the area.   On the other hand, this same remoteness has led to a greater appreciation of our Anglophone culture, as well as a better understanding of the need for close cooperation between employer and employee to ensure the success of English Education for the Youth of our area.


It has also brought about a greater appreciation from the members of the “provincial Anglophone tables” for the commitment in time and sincerity of purpose shown by representatives of Eastern Shores School Board.  The so-called family atmosphere of the working relationship within our Board has often been duly remarked.


The uniqueness of our Board, its diversity, and the dedication of the employees have been the instrumental factor in the development of this Strategic Plan – an educational project in which every contributor can be very proud

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