By Yolanda Ridge, Rossland News
There is a new education option in town—and this one isn’t having any trouble with names.
In fact, the Seven Summits Centre for Learning has adopted an entirely new vocabulary: students are learners, teachers are mentors, and the school is a learning centre.
This terminology is outlined by SelfDesign High, the education provider for Seven Summits, which offers a wide variety of online courses certified by the B.C. Ministry of Education. These courses, and the mentors who oversee each learner’s overall progress, are funded by the province through SelfDesign and earn credits toward a high school diploma.
There are over 1,500 SelfDesign learners in B.C., from kindergarten to Grade 12, but the vast majority work independently from home.
Seven Summits is relatively unique in providing learners with a classroom-like setting and mentors who are physically present at the centre to assist with the online learning of core subjects like language arts, social studies, math and science, as well as facilitating workshops in more hands on subjects like guitar and pottery.
Although Seven Summits has been able to model itself after other learning centres like the one in Nelson (the nexus of SelfDesign) and ProMerita Academy in North Vancouver, Rossland’s new education centre has had to develop its own strategy for meeting the specific needs of this community—and that includes money.
“Most of our obstacles have been around securing the resources we need to operate the centre,” said Neighbourhood of Learning (NOL) coordinator, Aerin Guy. “We are actively looking for funding support to cover the operations and administration of the centre. Any fees we charge are to cover the space and running of the building.”
The Seven Summits Learning Centre itself is operated by the Visions for Small Schools Society (VSS), of which NOL is a subcommittee.
“It’s important to distinguish that NOL is not running the learning centre—VSS is. We really don’t know what will happen in terms of NOL funding, but our goal is to promote and provide education opportunities for K-12 learners in Rossland,” explained Guy.
Getting the building ready for the start of the school year has been the most immediate challenge.
“We’ve had to work with our Internet provider to ensure that learners have consistent online access, and we will certainly benefit when broadband is available in the community,” said Guy.
Otherwise, the interior renovations are nearly complete and the renovations to the exterior of the building will continue in the spring.
None of the start up challenges have affected the Seven Summits learners who connected during a camping outing in September.
“It was an excellent way to build friendships and set the tone for the positive interactions between the kids,” said Guy. “The learners are involved in everything at the centre and have really taken ownership of the space and of their learning.”
The learners at Seven Summits are in Grades 8 to 12. Some are full time with SelfDesign, while others are cross enrolled at J.L. Crowe or other programs. The learning centre is still accepting new registrations and expect more through the fall and into the New Year. Enrolment in the online SelfDesign courses is open all year round.
Guy appreciates the amount of support Seven Summits has received from the community and welcomes continued involvement. Mostly powered by volunteers, the centre is still looking for help with fundraising, marketing, supervision, facility construction and maintenance, and individuals who are willing to facilitate education in their area of expertise.
“There is so much talent and enthusiasm out there, and the flexible approach to the schedule allows for the exploration of many interests,” said Guy.
To celebrate their successful start, the Seven Summits Centre for Learning is opening its doors to the public on Friday, Nov. 1 from 5:30-7 p.m.
There will be tours, student presentations, information about the SelfDesign education program, and plenty of opportunity to mingle with volunteers, learners, and mentors.
To find out more, visit www.sevensummitslearning.com.