Ten Reasons why CAIS Schools are Leading the Future of Education

Last week, we held our annual meeting with all CAIS Heads and Chairs, and our theme was Place, Pedagogy and Purpose.  Rather than try to tell you why I came away from that meeting full of inspiration about our schools, let me show you the theme in action in the CAIS schools I visited this month.

CAIS Schools are inspirational learning places

  1. img_6913Rundle College in Calgary has a new facility including a spectacular dining hall for their junior students.  When I say that the future of facilities is glass – you can see the impact of glass in this room with the ability to bring the outdoors in.  Very inspirational for those children to sit in round tables and enjoy their lunch.

 

img_69642.  The theme of dining halls and glass continues to Crofton House.  When I was there, I caught the choir rehearsing. Listening to those girls singing made my day! Crofton has also invested in their food services, so the choice of healthy interesting meals is also noteworthy.

 

 

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3.  One more place that uses glass to create a beautiful space is found at Mulgrave.  When I visited earlier this month, I was blown away by their new facility and how they use space to display student artwork. Our accreditation team arrived early and walked in to the sound of children singing – again, cannot tell you how amazing it is that our schools celebrate the arts!

 

CAIS Schools are passionate about pedagogy

img_69794.  At Mulgrave, their new facility includes creative learning spaces, including private study rooms.  In a world that is so busy and highly collaborative, I was inspired to see some students search for this kind of space to enjoy quiet study.

 

 

 

img_69765.  We know that the best learning happens when children have teachers who inspire them, share their passions, challenge them and listen to them, and provide regular valuable feedback on learning. I always ask to meet those teachers whom students tell me are their favourites.  Sometimes those teachers are pretty quirky!  Check out the door to one of the classrooms I saw this month – who wouldn’t be inspired by this character!

 

 

 

 

img_71756.  Learning happens everywhere.  Meadowridge has invested in their outdoor spaces that are just as creative as their indoor spaces. The accreditation team this week just had to wander into the bushes to learn about this piece of artwork.

 

 

 

 

 

CAIS Schools live their purpose deeply and with authenticity

7.  img_7095First and foremost, our CAIS schools put the needs of children first. Students are known at our schools, and teachers work hard to understand them as individuals.  CAIS schools are passionate about students.  CAIS teachers know that their influence extends beyond the academic curriculum.  At our Heads and Chairs Conference, we heard from Dr. Mark Miliron who reminded us of our greater purpose in education.

 

 

 

 

8.  img_6899Our CAIS schools are passionate about the arts and about learning.  Take a look at this Wonder Wall at Rundle and the description of how the teachers inspired their students to Be Curious.

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9.  img_6953Our CAIS schools have made a firm commitment to being Canadian.  What does that mean?  It means they celebrate diversity, history and culture.  It means that they offer Financial Assistance to ensure great students can attend, regardless of socio-economic status.  Last week, I attended an Old Boys Summit at Upper Canada College, where they have raised over $50 million to ensure a more diverse student body.

 

 

 

 

10. img_7161All CAIS schools partner with parents, and our CAIS boarding schools go the extra mile to connect with parents of students who live where they learn.

Last week, my son’s advisor sent me this photo of Jacob playing soccer.  He is a boarding student at Lakefield, and I miss him a lot!  So I feel so good when one of his teachers contacts me to show me what he is doing.  I know this is cheating – to show off my own son! – but I really see that all CAIS schools take this kind of personalized communication seriously.

 

 

Today is Leonard Cohen’s Birthday

When I taught English at LCC, I began every class with a poem.  I would read the poem twice and everyone in the class would then share their favourite line.  Sometimes we moved immediately on to the rest of the class, but sometimes we just needed to discuss it.  I think those were my favourite times – when the students would be so moved or so interested that I just couldn’t think of what would be more important than that conversation.  We studied a poet for one month, which meant studying 15-20 poems per month and nine poets per year.

When CBC broadcaster for the arts, Eleanor Wachtel spoke at the school, she remarked that our students were more knowledgeable and passionate about Canadian poetry than most.

One day, a visitor to the school stopped by our classroom and asked what the students were studying.  “Poetry” was the answer.  “And who is your favourite poet?”  The class tossed a few names around then agreed that Leonard Cohen was definitely at the top of the list.  The visitor was impressed.  But then one boy stood up – and everyone knew that he was not the usual poetry-type of guy, (I suspect that even our visitor had that feeling), and he offered to recite one of Cohen’s poems:

With Annie Gone
whose eyes to compare
with the morning sun?
Not that I did compare,
but I do compare
now that she’s gone.

On this day, September 21, I hope that some of my students from Lower Canada College might notice it’s Leonard Cohen’s birthday and think back to those times when we just had to have the conversation. Maybe that boy has used his poetry recitation skills to woo a girl! Maybe they are still having those conversations in their own lives, where ever they might be now.

Maybe that’s the true power of the poet.

Happy Birthday Mr. Cohen…and thank you.
P.S.
CBC has collected wonderful materials on poets and poetry in their archives that are available at:
The NFB has films on Leonard Cohen that are definitely worth watching: