What started as a rumour and a show of hands at a school district public meeting months ago has taken shape.
Minimum enrolment numbers for the city’s independent school have been achieved, moving the Seven Summits Centre for Learning from a vision to a reality for Rossland youth.
And all it took was another public meeting. On Wednesday, June 26 at the Rossland Gallery over 100 people turned out for a Neighbourhoods of Learning in-depth look at the Seven Summits Centre for Learning proposed for the city in the wake of Rossland Secondary School closing.
And what they saw was enough for 16 more students to enrol, bringing the student body to a count of 24—including eight international students—more than the 15 needed to make the centre viable.
With courses already certified by the B.C. Ministry of Education, and confirmation the school would receive partial funding from the province, it only needed bums in the seats to materialize this fall.
NOL coordinator Aerin Guy said there will be more students coming. The Visions for Small School society (VSS), which will administer the school, had to set a narrow time line for initial registration in order to meet the minimum requirements.
“But now that the pressure is off more people are downloading registration forms so we expect more (students),” she said. “Now that we have this many kids it will keep on growing.”
Most young people are in Grade 8, with numbers dwindling as it reaches the higher grades. No registration deadline has yet to be set.
The partnership between Red Mountain Academies, VSS, NOL and SelfDesign Learning Community will deliver a learner-centred, inquiry-based learning approach that encompasses the entire B.C. Grade 8-12 high school graduation program.
At present there is no particular space set for the school until enrolment numbers are solidified. However, the school will use the conference room at Red Mountain in fall if a more permanent spot isn’t ready to go.
Tuition will be $1,000 a year for the Seven Summits Centre for Learning, with some tuition subsidies available. Tuition fees will help to cover the cost of the facility.
Education through SelfDesign is free to all B.C. residents with funding from the Ministry of Education, Independent Schools Branch.
SelfDesign—co-founded in 2002 by Brent Cameron—is primarily an independent distributed learning school which means that a portion of the program is online, offering personalized learning customized to each student’s needs, using online interactive learning and face-to-face learning. SelfDesign High mentors (teachers) will be working at the centre with students.
There are some obvious advantages to the new program, said Guy, with flexible scheduling allowing a focus on extra-curricular activities and outside interests.
Although the learning centre would be small, it would have a low ratio of learners to SelfDesign High mentors and learning consultants, and students would be able to fast track through high school if desired.
Students can still participate in RSS and Crowe sports teams, as per BC School Sports policy, and Grade 10–12 learners could cross-enrol if desired, taking one or more courses at Crowe, and the rest through SelfDesign.
“It’s a great option for kids across the district, for whom a larger high school is not the best fit,” said Guy.
Seven Summits will be administered by VSS, with the long term goal to become a learning hub for the entire community, with post-secondary and after-hours classes available to anyone.
Graduation scholarships for post secondary are listed on SelfDesign’s website for students.
The number of teaching staff—accredited within the BC education system and trained in the SelfDesign system—will be determined by enrolment.
Students will be required to fill out a Seven Summits application form, as well as to enrol online with SelfDesign. Red Mountain Academies students will also have to fill out an RMA application form.
Vice principal of SelfDesign, Barbara Nicholl, will do an information session in Rossland in the next two weeks with parents geared towards revealing more aspects of the program.
How it works
Full and part-time options are available to fit each student’s schedule, creating flexibility not only for Red Mountain Academy athletes who will be attending, but any people who would want to focus on other interests and activities in addition to their academic studies.
Students are educated with mentorship and facilitation by B.C. certified SelfDesign High mentors and learning consultants. Working with individualized programs (each student has their own learning plan), students are provided with a challenging, focused and comprehensive academic program.
The selection of curriculum can be tailored to the individual needs of each student with the guidance and assistance of the SelfDesign mentors and learning consultants.
The student to mentor/learning consultant ratio is low and they will be available to collaborate with parents on individual student needs.
“Availability of the SelfDesign High mentors/learning consultants also means more personal attention in areas where the learner requires more help,” read an NOL article on the school.
At the high school level a mentor stands with the youth, sometimes in a teaching gesture, sometimes guiding, and at times learning from and with the youth. All mentors are certified teachers with the Ministry of Education.
In the younger grades SelfDesign offers a learning circle approach where youth have the support of a learning consultant (certified teacher) who works with them in both the online environment and in the centre.
Students will be challenged to think for themselves, to be accountable for their studies and deadlines, and to organize their thoughts in order to communicate clearly and well, it added.
What it offers
In addition to the core academic requirements of language arts, social studies, mathematics and the sciences, students at the SelfDesign High level also have opportunities for study in the full range of SDLC electives, including Spanish, French, technology/life skills, service and outreach, comparative civilizations, contemporary studies, Earth science, geography, jazz studies, philosophy, chemistry, physics and more.
Learners can take up to 10 courses a year at high school. In many cases elective courses can be tailored to learners’ particular fields of interest or extra-curricular activities.
For the full range of SelfDesign courses, see: www.selfdesignhigh.org/descriptions.html.
More information on the Grade 6-9 program can be found here: http://k-9.selfdesign.org/program-overview/gateways-program/.
Learners will need to provide their own laptop computer (Mac or PC).
Source: Neighbourhoods of Learning