Hutterite Colony Schools

We educate students living on two Hutterite Colonies: Pibroch Colony which is located 13 km north of Westlock and Sunny Bend Colony which is located 46 km northwest of Westlock.

Since the language of use on Hutterite Colonies is a German dialect, beginning students have little knowledge of English. Learning to speak, read and write English is a priority. Students traditionally leave school on their fifteenth birthday, which is why this school does not go beyond Grade 9. Students who complete the Grade 9 curriculum prior to their 15th birthday are given instruction through distance learning courses offered by the Alberta Distance Learning Centre. School runs from 9:00 am to 3:30 pm daily using the calendar timetable of Pembina Hills School Division and while observing Hutterite holidays.

School on a colony is reminiscent of the one-room schools of pioneer days, with a modern inclusive twist. Children of all ages play together. Older children help the younger ones. Since teacher time must be rationed among multiple grades, the students become very independent. There is also a lot of fun. All the holidays are celebrated with classroom parties, with the Christmas concert being the high point of the year.

Hutterite Colonies build and maintain their own schools in order to keep their children on the colonies and minimize outside influence, in keeping with their beliefs. In the past, teachers have not been allowed to use technological equipment such as computers, tape recorders, films and overhead projectors, but many colonies are now accepting these aspects of technology as long as they are being used properly. Our Colony School teachers use computers in their office and have access to the internet at the colony, but the students do not. Students have minimum technology in the classroom – a calculator is about as technical as it gets.

The Hutterite culture is fascinating and the people are fun and gracious.  Teachers and program assistants that work in our Colony School are well respected and work closely with the students and their families. It is not uncommon for a school staff member to come home on a Friday afternoon with a fresh baked bag of buns or some fresh picked garden veggies. Teaching at a Hutterite Colony School is a unique experience that lends itself to one-of-a-kind challenges that are very rewarding and special.