Accentuating the Many Benefits of Genuine Educational Experiences, Ottawa’s Newest High School, The Element, Opens September 2013
Emphasizing self-discovery and responding to student requests for real-world experience and influence in directing their school experience, The Element is now accepting applications for students attending Grades 7-11 in 2013.
Ottawa, Ontario (October 30, 2012). Named to reflect students thriving ‘in their element’ and exploring their potential as adults, The Element, Ottawa’s Newest Alternative High School, is now accepting applications for students to attend Grades 7-11 when the school opens in 2013 in the shadow of Ottawa’s Tunney’s Pasture.
During her 12 years as School Director of OMS Montessori (Ottawa Montessori School), Pat Gere would wave and wish the graduating students all the best as they dispersed to various Ottawa high schools throughout the region; a missed opportunity, she felt, at such a crucial stage of personal development.
“These students are ready to step in and experience the adult world in a real way; just as apprentices did in the past,” says Gere, adding that The Element will offer Grade 12 in 2014.
“The Element will be the hub that allows the older students to go out in the adult world and return to process and reflect on their experiences while mastering the required courses to meet the Ontario Secondary School standards.”
Founded on Dr. Maria Montessori’s idea of spontaneous activity, The Element will focus on creating the circumstances for students of different ages to work together on projects of their own selection and explore self-identity through these authentic experiences while guided by faculty. Consistent with the strategies of the OMS, students attending The Element will not be segregated by age or grade; instead they will be divided between the Junior High Grades 7-9 and the Senior Grades 10-12. While the Junior High program will continue the great attributes of the current OMS Junior High, extending it to Grade 9 students, the Senior High school will emphasize more individual contact with the adult world.
“As you can imagine, a Grade-12 student has different needs and characteristics when compared to a Grade-7 student but both the Junior High and Senior High students need a community of peers, so it makes sense to split these groups, although I know we will continue to see the tremendous amount of school spirit and collegiality that we now see at OMS,” adds Gere.
Inside The Element, student input includes responsibility for organizing his or her daily schedule and attending the weekly student governance meetings to address the broad school topics of organization, operations, expectations and discipline. On Wednesdays, outside the school walls, Senior students will participate in the Authentic World of Learning (AWOL), involving participation in self-selected community service projects or internships. Those life-lessons are expected to be shared with classmates upon return to the school.
“We are responding to the desires of students and their parents to provide an array of opportunities that will benefit each student in preparation for university and beyond,” says Gere, who will be reaching out to establish connections with local community resources and business partners.
“This is the unique position we occupy within Ottawa’s educational community.”
The call to create a high school was included in the 2009 Strategic Plan of OMS Montessori with the support and encouragement of almost 80 per cent of all the parents of the school’s 300 students. Soon after, a High School Committee was struck and research was conducted examining 17 similar institutions or high schools throughout North America. The High School Committee also relied on input from a blue-ribbon panel including an expert from Carleton University. The result was a High School program developed from the North American Montessori Teachers Association Adolescent training program (NAMTA) that is now recognized by the Association of Montessori Internationale and named in tribute to the philosophies of Sir Ken Robinson and his book, The Element. Barbara Graves, the Vice-Dean of Academic Programs at the Faculty of Education, University of Ottawa is also looking forward to collaborating with The Element.
Students will not be the only ones to benefit from this creation of a new high school; The Element will provide hiring opportunities for four full-time teachers and a handful of specialists. In January, 2013, the school will accept applications for teachers to instruct in literature, science, math and history/geography. At that time the school will also begin searching for part-time specialists to support art, music, technology and several others areas.
“With a firm five-year commitment of support, a great foundation and a fantastic class of OMS graduates, we welcome all expressions of interest to learn more and join us in launching this unique experience,”
LEARN MORE at the “THE ELEMENT TAKES FLIGHT”
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
7 - 9 pm
Canadian Aviation Museum
Guest Speaker: David Kahn
Pat Gere and the other leaders of Ottawa’s newest high school will be hosting the free information session, “The Element Takes Flight” at the Canadian Aviation Museum from 7-9 p m on Tuesday, November 20, 2012.
Guest speaker for the evening with be David Kahn, the founder of the Montessori High School at University Circle and an internationally recognized expert on Montessori adolescent education. Mr. Kahn, who served as a consultant to OMS Montessori on the creation of The Element, is also the Executive Director of NAMTA and Director of Project 2012 Adolescent Research and Designs for students aged 12-18.
High School Coordinator, OMS Ottawa Montessori School