Low-German Mennonite “focus schools” for Summers Corners, Straffordville

Thames Valley District School Board on Tuesday night, Nov. 23, approved a two-year pilot project for “Low-German Mennonite Focus Schools” to be created at Summers Corners Public School and Straffordville Public School starting in September of 2022.

The proposal for the focus schools was presented by Superintendent Tracy Langelaan and System Principal Abe Wall, a former vice-principal at East Elgin Secondary School.

Supt. Langelaan said the idea was to expand the board’s commitment “to provide exceptional learning opportunities” for Mennonite children.

Approximately 1,500 Low-German Mennonite children were attending TVDSB schools, she said, most of them from relatively close to Summers Corners and Straffordville, in the east end of Elgin County and the south end of Oxford. However, hundreds of others were either learning at home or in private religious schools.

More in the Dec. 1 edition of The Aylmer Express.

  • Steve Dangle

    So in a country that has a Charter that specifically specifies our languages as English and French, we are going to start teaching in German to pander to immigrants? What’s next?

    • AE Web Admin

      Does the write-up say that the teaching will be administered in German?

    • Matthew

      Immigrants? The majority of and possibly all the children of Low German families that might benefit from this were born here. This article didn’t provide a lot of background information but the reason for this pilot is that most Low German families don’t send their children to public school, for a variety of reasons, including the sex ed curriculum, language, fear of dilution of culture or beliefs by exposure to other ideologies, conflicts with harvest where some Low German Mennonite farming families rely on their children to help in the fields instead of attending school, etc. Home schooling is permitted in Ontario, so this is allowed, but the large number of children potentially not receiving a standardized education is something that should be concerning to anyone, especially in how it might limit future opportunities. Low German speaking Mennonites are a diverse group so I want to be careful not to generalize, but families that hold fast to Mennonite tradition may not see value in educating girls beyond a certain point, for instance, if the view is that their job as adults is to marry and tend to the home and care for children. This robs those girls of choice as they grow older: if they decide they want to pursue a career, they can’t because they don’t have the requisite education.