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A weekend feature for you - Home school aims to help immigrant students

Jennifer Webb wants to introduce a system that she learned while working in South Korea.

SASKATOON — A different kind of learning institution in an idyllic part of the Confederation Park neighbourhood gives a new meaning to being home-schooled. Jennifer Webb converted the home she’s renting into a school, Third Culture Kids Connections, as she tries to apply the educational system she had learned from being an English teacher in South Korea for two decades. 

Webb, who graduated from Walter Murray Collegiate and earned a biochemistry degree at the University of Saskatchewan, hosted several open houses before the start of the school year to introduce the concept to the community and explain the programs to newly arrived parents that would help their kids receive support from schools. She is the Third Culture Kids Connections’ Educational Director after earning a post-graduate degree in elementary education. 

Webb said that the name Third Culture Kids Connection is based on a book, and it is usually a term given to children of diplomats, expatriates, immigrants, and military personnel who grew up or spent their childhood years in a different culture of the country of their birth. She noticed the need for kids of immigrant parents to get the support they needed to adjust to their new environment after working and living in another country. 

“They [kids] don’t have their native culture, but the one where they live. So, the third culture is sort of that self-identity that they build. It was so fascinating to see in the classroom where you’ve got kids with different religious and cultural backgrounds. I also work as a substitute teacher in Saskatchewan, and I saw how underfunded our educational system is with many students falling through the cracks,” said Webb. 

“My previous work in international schools in South Korea gave me the perspective and skills to help many of these kids with my innovative program and approach to teaching. While many colleagues strive to help students within the system during the school day, I aim to give parents alternatives for extra support after school in a smaller, safe classroom environment based out of my home.” 

She taught at Hagwon, a private educational institution in South Korea, then worked in two more international schools for 13 years before deciding to return home and set up Third Culture Kids Connections. She took her post-graduate in elementary education while in South Korea, online at the University of Phoenix, where she finished with a 4.0 GPA. 

Webb added she came up with the idea for TCKC after seeing some of the students who are immigrants feeling isolated, struggling, and not getting the support they needed in the school system while working as a substitute teacher. 

“They are failing. They are being ignored. We, as teachers, are not specifically trained on how to deal with newcomers — kids who don’t speak the [English] language and don’t know the culture. As a substitute, I saw these kids and talked to them. I find out they are not getting a lot of help. I spent 20 years working in an international school, and we had 53 different countries represented,” said Webb. 

“We just took it for granted that every kid would be confused when they show up and don’t know what’s happening. We gave special training and orientation for these students and helped them adjust. I want to do that here. I always wanted to do my own thing, and my methods are different; it does not fit in the Canadian curriculum, and it is more of a Montessori style where every kid gets to do their own thing.” 

She said it is about time the educational system shook things up a bit since not all kids in the same age and grade have similar levels of learning, and each needs to be treated differently. 

“We fundamentally expect all students at the same age to do the same thing. I don’t teach that way. This is how I see it: Students A, B and C have different levels, and I will take them up as high as possible when they are with me. Some students might skyrocket while some might go as just as much as they can,” said Webb. 

“They will not be the same, but they will all grow as much as possible. I meet these kids, and I find out their goals and what they want. See their interests so I can provide the books, worksheets, and projects for them to learn.” 

TCKC is located at 153 Douglas Crescent and is open from Mondays to Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. For more information, visit