Mgr-Scheffer School is located in Lourdes-de-Blanc-Sablon, part of the municipality of Blanc Sablon which includes three villages: Blanc Sablon, Lourdes-de-Blanc-Sablon and Bradore. The children who attend school come from these villages and from Middle Bay, in the municipality of Bonne Esperance.
The village of Lourdes-de-Blanc-Sablon could be described as "The French stronghold of the region". According to the last Québec census, twenty-seven percent of 11 00 inhabitants spoke French at home. Forty-two percent of the population is functionally bilingual. It is not unusual, however, to meet people who speak only English.
Physically, the village is built on a point along the coastline. The newcomer should therefore not be surprised to hear "Long Point" in reference to Lourdes. As soon as you pass the airport area, several archaeological sites can be admired along the road. The village sits on sedimentary rock and approximately 500 houses adorn the shoreline. These houses, modern and comfortable, are built to endure the harsh winter of North-eastern Québec. The town pleasantly combines the charming aspects of the past and the practical and secure elements of modern times.
As with many other villages on the Lower North Shore, Lourdes-de-Blanc-Sablon and its neighbouring villages have access to paved roads, kept open on a twelve month basis and permitting easy access to all services: grocery store, convenience store, health centre, police and fire departments, school, community hall and other essential services. During the year, food is abundant and fresh. However, because of the high cost of transportation, some perishable foods are much more expensive in winter. It is important to note that transportation by ship is possible from April to January, depending on the ice conditions. In an emergency, the Health Centre transports patients to the hospital in Sept-Iles, which is better equipped for difficult cases.
Out of the 11 00 inhabitants who live in Lourdes-de-Blanc-Sablon, about five percent of them are workers from outside the region. Those people work in the areas of health, education and hydro-electricity. The average family has three children and lives in single family homes. The main employers are the Health Centre, School, Hydro-Québec, the Caisse populaire, and other government agencies.
As in all rural areas, the lifestyle is not as fast paced as in urban areas. People know each other and have mutual appreciation. The newcomer will be quickly recognized and welcomed, which is very pleasant. Family, honesty and work well done are part of the values. Time has another dimension. The human being comes first and everything else is secondary. In general, the parents are very concerned with school success and the activities of their children. Social activities are part of the lifestyle here. Mutual help is also something you can count on.
There is always a down side to every area and this one is no different. Certain types of attitudes and behaviour are judged very harshly and take rather a long time to be forgotten. Anonymity and confidentiality are two things that do not exist, which at times is unfortunate. But without a doubt, village life offers certain equilibrium both to your professional and personal life.
The school, located in the heart of the village, offers very exciting challenges. As time passes, it develops in size and function, and according to the needs of the students, offers adequate training from pre-school to secondary five.
The first floor accommodates the primary students, library, gymnasium and a reading room; the next floor has classrooms, laboratories, a student room, a technology and art room for secondary students, and two staff rooms for teachers.
A school yard has been planned (without a fence) to develop the physical potential of students. An inexhaustible list of activities is put to the test on a daily basis. Sporadically, we prepare special activities. A school, located near the sea, is like an open window to the environment and the school employees know how to take advantage of this.
Many services that were offered in urban areas are now offered here. The computer, library and technology rooms are modern and improve from one year to the next. A variety of didactic materials is available. Banks of exams and all kinds of manuals are accessible to teachers anytime. Each employee has a key to the building, so that they may work whenever it is convenient for them, which acts as an advantage for everyone.
A great combination of people from here and elsewhere form the team at Mgr-Scheffer School. About half of the staff comes from this region, while the remainder originated from Québec, Montréal, Sherbrooke, Sept-Iles, Chicoutimi etc. Staff experience ranges anywhere from fifteen to thirty years in the profession. Basic training and new knowledge along with wisdom from many years of experience create certain dynamics within the team. The relationships among employees are particularly pleasant.
Each teacher knows how to develop his/her teaching strategies while keeping in mind his/her strengths and weaknesses. Certain priorities put forward by the school bring to light unknown abilities. Now the school has its computer specialists, in technology, professional training, etc. Maybe this seems rather trivial in schools where there is a specialist per level; it is exceptional when a teacher has six subjects in five different levels. The versatility enabled us to develop professionally, permitting not only to enlarge our personal potential but also to continue a privileged relationship with the students over a longer period. The new teacher has ample opportunity to maximize his/her potential.
Although the students are placed at the end of this descriptive story, they have a special place in the school. The staff learned quickly that without them, the school would not exist. A variety of activities have begun in order to increase their awareness at every level. After school activities are as important as the academic, because they create a sense of belonging throughout student life.
The new teacher would have small groups: an average of 15 students per class. At first, students seem suspicious of the new arrival. Quickly, they want to know more and be like the new teacher. They are eager for new knowledge and experiences. Most of them like the outdoors and sports. Some maintain school success as a priority. A particularity: the language of instruction is French, but the majority of students speak English as soon as they are out of school. This additional challenge that they have to face sometimes creates frustrations towards the French language. But ask the students to attend another school and they will quickly reply in the negative.
Their tastes are similar to those in other rural areas of the province. The youth still possess an innocence particular to those who have limited exposure to urban life, a quality greatly appreciated by all teachers. A great number of them appreciate this life, and after completing their studies, plan to return home. The children are very attached to their families. Their interpersonal relationships are based upon mutual respect and, in general, there are never any raised voices and there is no physical violence in the school. Vandalism is not part of their lifestyle.
The teacher will have to face demanding students, sometimes not very autonomous, but always endearing. We ask that the teacher listen to the students, have a sense of humour, and possess enormous abilities.
The person who is sincere will be accepted immediately and will be forgiven for his/her imperfections.