Independent School Study: Ranch Ehrlo (ECS 101)

Ranch Ehrlo by Kari Halliday, Jayden Derin, Emma Sharp, and Jerico Sampang

Ranch Ehrlo has many campuses spread out through Saskatchewan. They have one campus in Pilot Butte, one in Corman Park just outside Saskatoon, and one in Buckland just outside Prince Albert.

Firstly, Ranch Ehrlo’s mission statement is to provide quality preventative and restorative services as well as advocacy for vulnerable individuals and families through highly engaged and professional employees.

As for what is being taught and how it is being taught, Ranch Ehrlo specifies that two types of education are offered: Education Centers and Alternative Education Opportunities. 

Education centers are designed for elementary and high school students to provide academic assessments, modified programs, and behavioural stabilization. The end goal is to have these students be incorporated back into the mainstream classroom. 

Alternative educational opportunities are designed for students with developmental and cognitive disabilities. The students range from seventeen years old to adults. This type of learning is built off the idea of community-based services. It involves developing ongoing social skill development and simple vocational training through constant, and repetitive routines.

There are four main types of alternative educational opportunities:

  • Life Skills Education Program (LSEP) helps students develop life skills and provides leisure and recreation opportunities, training, and skill development. 
  • Vocational Training Employment Program (VTEP) introduces life skills, vocational training and skill development, and supervised vocational activities. 
  • Supported Employment Program (SEP) offers employment opportunities and training for students. 
  • Alternative Vocational Education Program (AVEP) provides vocational training and programming that promotes customized work experiences with support. It is built for those with sensory and communication issues; supervision is provided. 

The student population that Ranch Ehrlo typically attracts are traumatized teens that struggle with mental health, behavioural issues, and addiction needs. They also assist students with developmental disabilities. Ranch Ehrlo helps these students by providing them with family treatment, reunification, early learning, vocational training, affordable housing, child care, and more.

As for educational philosophy, Ranch Ehrlo states that the CARE Model guides them: Children and Residential Experiences – Creating Conditions for Change. This model aims to improve services for children and youth in care. The CARE model is based on six main principles: developmentally focused, family involved, relationship-based, trauma-informed, competence-centric, and ecologically oriented.

Ranch Ehrlo is a non-profit organization that gets its funding from different resources. Most of their financial resources are from the provincial government of social services, Child and Youth and Community Living Services Deliver (CLSD) of Saskatchewan, a branch of social services from the provincial government for people with intellectual disabilities.  Depending on the individuals they serve, they get funding from “Bands”, for example, Indigenous funding.  They can also get financing from out of provinces again, depending on where the individuals come from.  The most popular funding they get is from the provincial government of Northwest Territories. Then the second would be Alberta.  They get some of their funding through donations from the public and private contributions from corporations.

Our group thinks that Saskatchewan needs to have independent schools like Ranch Ehrlo because many students come from different beliefs, needs, experiences, and trauma, therefore Ranch Ehrlo meets the requirements of specific educational methods. Independent schools allow for the mosaic of students to be accommodated and cared for.

As a group, we believe that Ranch Ehrlo’s educational and lifestyle philosophy is a great foundation for the goals and aspirations they set. Ranch Ehrlo strives to provide tools to help their clients through their services on how to cope and succeed. 

The reasons we believe there are so many different independent schools are that they make other methods of education available, they emphasize distinct cultures or beliefs, and they provide resources for those of different needs and backgrounds. Since independent schools focus on these goals, it gives every individual a chance to succeed.

We made many connections between our educational experiences and our beliefs regarding Ranch Ehrlo. Each one of us had made our own connections with Ranch Ehlo which ended up being the same type of tune.  We believe that each student learns differently and has the right to an education that makes them feel loved and safe in their learning environment, no matter what kind of trauma they’ve experienced.

Although these independent schools educate students on different ways of being, thinking, and doing, many mainstream schools cannot incorporate that aspect. We believe it’s because not all educators are taught to integrate adequately all students with different learning needs and how much it would cost to adapt to the curriculum. These mainstream schools may likely encounter roadblocks such as insufficient funding, proper resources, and inexperience when incorporating different ways of being, thinking, and doing.

When we were asked what components we would include in a school we built, we had many different perspectives. Overall, we would have adequate resources available to people to help with all types of social situations. In that way, the curriculum would be adaptable to all students and encourages creative differences. Additionally, the school would have spaces available for students to work, study, play, and relax. Lastly, we would want to have opportunities for students to be exposed to the outside world through field trips to teach them life lessons.

Ranch Ehrlo ultimately changes people’s lives through their independent programs. It allows for modified curriculums to engage and teach whatever is relevant to the student’s life in his/her moment. Ranch Ehrlo provides for students who need specific resources and support so that everyone can succeed in their independent school programs. Without independent programs like Ranch Ehrlo, we may end up in a world that lacks the colorfulness of a diverse mosaic of students.