Recently, I’ve gotten to know Simon Wolfson, who’s head of Evergreen Leadership Academy, located in Concord, ON, Canada
His motivation for starting a private school is stated on the school’s website (EvergreenLearning.ca/): “I can honestly say that the current model of education is not only falling short, but in many cases is detrimental to the mental and psychological development of our children.”
If you share the same sentiment, then Evergreen may offer something assuring. That’s because, unlike the one-size-fits-all approach that most public schools take, Evergreen takes an approach where students can feel more invested in, and more in control of, their education.
An Environment and Approach That Actually Fosters Learning
When looking at a private school, perhaps the most important overall criteria a parent should consider is, “Is this school/environment the best one for my child?”
Another question a parent might ask is, “What makes Evergreen different?”
5 Things That Make Evergreen Different
1. A Reconstructed Approach to the Ontario Curriculum
For the Ontario Elementary school system, the daily allocation of class time is 300 minutes. At Evergreen, there is a reduction in class time, in favour of electives.
Why is this?
Simple: Evergreen has re-thought and rebuilt the Ontario Curriculum. Evergreen incorporates the most critical components of Ontario’s curriculum.
The great thing about this is that…
2. Students Are Given a Chance to Discover and Develop What They Have an Affinity For
With more time available, students are asked to learn how to use calipers, learn about 3D modeling software, and learn how a basic electrical circuit works.
Beyond that, students can explore a range of elective classes across an array of topics, such as dance, music, cooking, building, gardening, art, design, and more.
3. Self-Directed Learning
This is probably one of the key principles that make Evergreen’s students successful.
In Evergreen’s welcome message, Simon Wolfson says that “…we have to find ways of making them feel invested and in control of their learning.”
Evergreen does its best to foster this environment, and by honouring the student with trust-based responsibility, the student is compelled to be invested in their learning.
Unlike the public school approach, which pulls kids, en masse, along a rigidly predefined path, Evergreen effectively tells the student, “Hey, we’re partners in your education, and we’ll trust you to lead the way.”
4. Students Can Learn at Their Own Pace, While Advancing Faster
Do you want your child to be a ‘fast’ learner and be given the chance to advance faster, instead of being held back by the public school system’s rigid calendar?
Rather than using an annual grade system, Evergreen uses levels to track student advancement. And, these levels aren’t limited to the calendar, which means that as soon as your child completes a given level, they can proceed to the next.
5. A Range of Learning Styles Give Evergreen Great Flexibility in Teaching Options
Perhaps one of the biggest downfalls of the public school system is this: for years, it’s been known that no single teaching approach applies equally well to each student all the time.
Yet, as you may have painfully experienced, the public school system continues to perpetuate a mass-learning approach that pays little attention to the individual learning style of each student.
And worse, some students never learn how they, individually, learn best.
It’s very much a similar ordeal for teachers in the public school system.
Well, with Evergreen, things are different.
Evergreen isn’t restricted to a single learning approach. Instead, Evergreen has the flexibility of utilizing a number of approaches. These approaches are methodologies borrowed from systems such as Montessori, Reggio, Project-Based, and Finland’s system of education.
During an interview, Simon said, “We’re consistently trying to make the experience meaningful for our students. We do this through powerful programming lessons that involve hands-on activities and which also honour the different learning styles of our students.”
And with all of this are a number of themes that you may not see on the curriculum of a ‘normal’ school, but which are nonetheless critical. These are: spirit, having a growth mindset, helping kids find a sense of purpose, and helping them explore the question, What’s my superpower?
To learn more about Evergreen Leadership Academy, which is a private school in Concord (part of the city of Vaughan, York Region, Ontario), please visit EverGreenLearning.ca
Simon has very generously offered to talk to anyone interested in starting up an alternative school or field questions about how they have handled different issues. You can contact him through the site listed above.
If you’d like to see pictures, Evergreen’s Facebook page is at https://www.facebook.com/evergreenlearning.ca