Our world has a changed a lot since the 19th century; despite this, our education system in Canada has not changed significantly, denying our children and youth to take advantage of some of the most powerful learning experiences the world has to offer.
Blue Sky School, based in Kanata, wants to change that.
Blue Sky School is an independent school and innovation hub with the aim of empowering the changemakers of the next generation. Founded by educators Shauna Pollock and Karen Hill, the school’s model is built around individual empowerment of students, encouraging them to discover and grow their passions.
“It’s important to me that everyone can learn, achieve, progress and contribute. I worked in the public education system for 12 years and worked very hard to make change within. Now I am thrilled to have the opportunity to build something unique and share the results of our experiment with other educators. It’s time for a new schooling paradigm and I am so excited to be prototyping a vision for that. Everyday is an exciting challenge and adventure,” says Shauna.
Having opened its doors last month to its first cohort of students, Blue Sky welcomes others to support the students in helping them try new things as they learn together. Open to students in grades 4 through 12, what makes Blue Sky stand out is students’ ability to define and refine their own learning goals, giving them agency over their own education that is not possible in a more traditional setting. The enriched Ontario curriculum focuses on thematic and interdisciplinary learning, with emphasis on subject areas important in the modern world, including digital literacy, mental health and wellness, and design thinking. Alongside teachers, Blue Sky engages experts, coaches and mentors from various disciplines and industries, including those from local companies organizations, maker spaces, and consultancies.
The school has already attracted many supporters, especially Modern Niagara, who helped build the school on the campus on their national offices, and Impact Hub Ottawa, where Shauna and the school are members. “The students have had the opportunity to meet dozens of amazing leaders in different industries. If you have a passion, profession or project you want to share, we can learn with you,” says Shauna. This has included individuals from Ottawa-based organizations like Water Rangers, World-Changing Kids, Mealshare, Strive Martial Arts, the University of Ottawa Makerspace. The school is also supported by a community of volunteers, mentors, and coaches.
The school hopes to grow by one cohort of students each year. If you are an educator, or would like to work with them in their innovative schooling model, you are invited to come talk to Shauna and the others at Blue Sky by email, firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also learn more about the school at their website, blueskyschool.ca. They also run monthly Think Tanks where educators and members of the community come together and discuss ideas for the school and education.