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Manitoba Teacher Research Collective

c/o 1G03B Graham Hall

Faculty of Education

University of Winnipeg

515 Portage Avenue

Winnipeg, MB    

R3B 2E9





























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Talent Development with At-Risk Populations


Lost Prizes: Manitoban and International Initiatives to Identify and Develop the Talents of At-Risk Populations

"Back in the early 1990s, three rural Manitoba school divisions—Lord Selkirk, Interlake, and Agassiz (now Sunrise)—launched the Lost Prizes project to reclaim at-risk, talented individuals who had dropped out of high school. Their talent notwithstanding, the youth in question were alienated and essentially lost to the system. Most were doing nothing and going nowhere. At best, they were floating aimlessly; at worst, they had run seriously afoul of the law. Substance abuse was prevalent. The initiative represented an attempt to reconnect with these young people, encourage them to examine other life paths, and awaken their dormant creative potential....(u)sing a toolbox of problem-solving strategies, the re-engaged students learned to map out individual growth plans, make better choices, and move from a stagnant present to a more productive future.  And in the second phase of the program, they gained experience through on-the-job placements that gave them an opportunity to encounter and address some real-world problems with mentors drawn from local businesses. ... (s)everal of the originators of Lost Prizesand its derivative projects ... made their way from the schools to positions in the Faculty of Education at the University of Winnipeg (UW). Gradually, they began to collaborate with new colleagues there who were also interested in enrichment and talent development. ... (an) overarching goal of this work is to highlight the importance of reflective inquiry, practice, and research. Although the programs discussed here were designed as front-line, in-the-trenches service delivery interventions to reach and redirect disenfranchised students, they have all been based upon theory and models thoroughly grounded in the literature. In our smorgasbord of projects, we have consistently made ongoing attempts to carry out action research in the best sense of the term by gathering outcome data, measuring and evaluating results objectively, following up, and adjusting as appropriate."

by Ken McCluskey, University of Winnipeg