Community Papers

Program eases school transition

Students in W.L. Seaton Secondary’s Grade 8 Academy tour Vernon’s downtown murals. - Photo submitted
Students in W.L. Seaton Secondary’s Grade 8 Academy tour Vernon’s downtown murals.
— image credit: Photo submitted

A Vernon high school is making great strides to  transition new students into higher learning.

The Grade 8 Academy, which has been operating for two years at W.L. Seaton Secondary, integrates the core subjects in a project-based manner.

“The aim is to ease the transition between elementary and secondary schools, while allowing for deeper exploration of course content and increasing engagements in academics,” said Seaton principal Jackie Kersey.

“Our approach has allowed reduced failure rates, improved attendance and student accountability. The teachers are able to establish relationships with students that foster a caring learning environment where risks can be taken.”

The program is supported by curricular experts in math, science and the humanities, as well as the incorporation of a learning resource teacher.

Additional support staff also allows the academy to run at a 12-to-one student to teacher ratio.

“The students have benefitted from regular involvement of Dr. Leyton Schnellert, from the University of B.C. Okanagan, who specializes in problem based learning,” said team leader Paul Britton.

Among the students involved is Maria Alexis.

“It gives me more opportunities than the regular school model,” said Alexis.

Students have had the opportunity to learn from professionals based in the community including, optometrists, electrical engineers, a coast guard officer, foresters, water technicians and cultural representatives.

The students have also taken on community outreach projects involving the Upper Room Mission, the Salvation Army, seniors residences and disadvantaged students groups.

“The staff and administration of Seaton recognize that students diverse needs can be challenging to meet in a conventional high school model,” said Britton.

“The junior academy is in line with cutting edge ideas in education around personalized learning. This model has been recognized in other districts in the province as a solution to the challenges faced when transitioning to high school.”

 

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