Seven Summits celebrates local educator's attitude of gratitude
After decades of distinctive dedication, one retired educator still serves the Rossland community’s academic interests. Christine DeMarco has been an educator for over 35 years. After moving to Rossland in the late 70s, she worked as a special education teacher at Beaver Valley Junior High, and a special education and kindergarten teacher
at Cooke Avenue School and Mclean Elementary. Her memories of teaching Rossland youngsters are fond.
“I loved teaching for the variety and the fact that no two days were predictable.”
This same enjoyment of variety and unpredictability motivated DeMarco to serve as a volunteer on a charitable, educational board for over 10 years.
“We are always learning\ and trying to blend the interests and skills of staff and volunteers to provide a high school education option in Rossland. Seven Summits Centre for Learning was created to keep education from K-12 in Rossland after the high school was closed in 2013. At that time, the Mclean School moved to RSS, and the high schoolers were bused out of Rossland.”
This decision to close the high school was not a popular choice for Rossland residents.
In response to this unpopular decision, DeMarco continues, “A passionate group of parents and educational advocates fought hard to keep the high school in Rossland, coming up with many branches of solutions. Finally, when these options were not realistic or affordable, the high school closed, so these same parents joined together to create a new.”
The community spirit that fought and earned the right to keep our students in Rossland was spearheaded by Neighbourhoods of Learning, who passed the torch to Visions for Small Schools Society (VSS) to create a combined database of over a thousand concerned folks.
“We couldn’t be defined as a school, so we opened a learning centre through the charitable board VSS and partnered with a learning platform to provide an exceptional educational product for Rossland’s Grade 8-12 youth,” explains DeMarco.
“I have served in the position of human resources for the most part, helping to hire the right people to keep this dream alive. As a result, we have had several talented and tenacious people dedicate numerous hours of their energy and abilities to the Centre via Board service, volunteerism, or staff,” says DeMarco.
The challenge has always been the sustainability of funding for the Centre.
“We have to charge a facility fee to cover the costs to run the Centre as only the education is publicly funded. This is hard; it has always been my dream to offer this educational option for free. The financial commitment is hard for some families, yet their students could benefit from this self-directed, personalized education style.”
VSS isn’t the only charitable board that has benefited from DeMarco’s interest and abilities.
“I also serve on the West Kootenay Friends of Refugees, which aims to help people move from areas of the world ravaged by conflict and war to settle in Canada. This work is both rewarding and humbling. The reality of the situations these people have survived is heartbreaking. This dedication to improving their lives drives our group
to push for funding and solutions. It is just about doing what we can to help make someone’s life better and safer to share this beautiful thing we all take for granted: freedom. Service of kindness makes the world a better place for these refugees. Sharing inclusive freedom and access to basic human necessities opens up a new world of opportunities for these people.”
Service at this depth is not done for accolades and applause. Like others in Rossland, DeMarco does this work to be considerate to her fellow human beings – which is a precious moral and social resource. Being kind, bringing solutions, and sharing empathetic actions are deeply instilled in DeMarco.
“Being a teacher means caring for the improvement of others. Like no two days being the same, no two students are either. By being caring, supportive, inclusive, and responsive in the classroom or the community, we can all significantly enrich and strengthen this little home called Rossland.”