Rossland Secondary School’s Blended Learning program is seeing its first and possibly last graduating class this year, as the top three grades will be bussed down to Trail.
Karen Lavender, the principal of RSS, said that the faculty and teachers have learned a lot in the last seven months of the program.
“We’ve done some surveys with parents, kids and staff, and we’ve had some feedback. Moving into second semester at the beginning of February allowed us to make some changes and make it more functional for everybody,” Lavender said. “It seems that has made the difference for a lot of kids in terms of them being able to get their head wrapped around how things are working.”
There has been some resistance to the changes brought on by Blended Learning, but Lavender noted that senior students got their provincial results this week which point to the new style, at the very minimum, meeting provincial expectations.
“That’s good news for us and for our kids,” she said. “It shows that what we’ve done is certainly not hurting their education.”
In four out of the five exams, students in the Blended Learning program did better on than the district, public school and provincial averages. Between Grades 10, 11 and 12, students write five provincial exams.
She said it shows that at worst the program is maintaining the learning experience, but believes students are learning at a deeper level.
Starting in October, not long after the program had started, school districts from various locations around B.C. started taking interest. Rossland Secondary School has hosted numerous district representatives and staff have been invited to present as well.
“They are mostly coming from districts with fairly small high schools,” Lavender said. “They are dealing with lots of things.”
The districts are trying to answer questions around how to offer a variety of programs in the smaller school settings.
Already this year, districts from Merritt, Enderby, Lake Cowichan, Golden and recently Boundary, have come to get a feel of the unique program in Rossland. Next month, Sooke is scheduled to come.
On the other side of it, Rossland Secondary administrators have been invited to Pemberton’s school district, which Lavender said has a similar institution to RSS.
North Vancouver also invited them to come and talk.
“We also went out and spoke to all the principals and vice-principals that were on a retreat in Kamloops,” she said. “I’ve done telephone interviews with Tumbler Ridge, Valemont Secondary.”
She has also had inquiries from Hope and Clearwater to come visit later this year.
Lavender also noted that there has been a rush of some districts to get a look at the program prior to it being packaged up by the district.
“Sooke is coming in April, Grand Forks and Boundary came basically the day after they heard we were going to K-9, and I’ve had some other phone calls subsequent to the announcement of K-9, because they want to come and see what we’re doing before we’re not here anymore,” she said.
“There is still lots of interest regardless of the fact that it won’t be happening in Rossland next year.”
The feedback has also been positive, Lavender noted, with almost every group writing a letter to either the board or to herself, with positive things to say about the program.
“I’ve had a lot of follow-up feedback, with more questions,” she said, adding that for many school districts looking to move from their current model, Rossland’s program offers a chance to look at a concrete program, one that is actually working.
For more information on the program, click here.