Distinctly different and small by design.
Learning to make a difference. That is the motto at Island Pacific School.
During the middle years, schools can either lose students or set them up for the rest of their lives. Put students in an environment of mediocrity and they will wither on the vine. Create a climate of challenge and expectation, and they will surprise us all.
Located on Bowen Island, British Columbia, Island Pacific School (IPS) is a non-profit independent middle school uniquely designed to give grade 6-9 middle school students the education they need: an education that challenges and surprises them to become the very best of who they are.
Small by design, IPS is an International Baccalaureate (IB) Middle Years Program school with a maximum of 72 students. We are accredited by CAIS and are members of ISABC.
The Big Picture of our Independent School.
Why Before How
At IPS we like to put the “why” before the “how”. As an independent school, Island Pacific School is, first and foremost, a middle school that is explicitly designed to enrich and activate that crucial transition between the innocent curiosity of elementary school and the more mature reflections of advanced learning.
Our purpose at Island Pacific School as leading education providers, therefore, is to enable our students to make the best use of these years, that is to equip and inspire them to express the very best of what it is to be a human being. Everything we do at the school — from the way we teach our courses to the extra challenges we give our students — is designed with this end in mind. We operate, as such, on the basis of the following principles:
- That the middle years are a crucial transition time where we can either lose students, or set them up for the rest of their lives
- That education encompasses both intellectual inquiry and the development of character
- That teaching is, in part, a matter of initiating students into the great conversations of human inquiry
- That schools must not insult the intelligence of the young, but instead must stretch and challenge them on all fronts
- That students need real and special opportunities to take responsibility for themselves
- That small schools are powerful sites in which to create an intentional educational community
- That our essential job, as education providers, is to equip and inspire students to cultivate their humanity
Note: our independent middle school is non-profit, which is different than a private middle school. We embrace the opportunities we have as an independent school with an arms-length Board of Governors dedicated to supporting an innovative and evolving middle school program. Not all independent schools or private schools meet rigorous and defined education standards. Our school is an accredited CAIS school and International Baccalaureate (IB) Global School teaching the Middle Years Programme (MYP). We’ve been accredited since 2009.
The Ten (big) Questions
The ten (big) questions to ask yourself about education is a way to enable parents to be thoughtful, intentional and proactive about the education of their children. Have a look to see where you stand on these fundamental questions.
Why Before How
1. What do you think would constitute or represent a “good life” for your children as expressed in their adult lives? (e.g. A well-paying job? A good relationship? Spiritual fulfilment? A passion pursued? Good health?) What elements, or contingencies, would you NOT wish upon your child in their adult lives?
2. What are the most important character traits that you would hope that your son or daughter embody and express as an adult? (e.g. Compassion? Curiosity? Tenacity? Resilience? Courage? Single-Mindedness? Integrity? Exuberance? Flair? Global Awareness?) Which traits would you hope are NOT manifested in their behaviour as adults?
3. What specific and intentional things have you done, as a parent or a family, to lay the groundwork to enable your son or daughter to acquire the elements and character traits that you have identified as important? (E.g. What “rules and conventions” are operative within your household? Which adults have you intentionally introduced into the lives of your children? What special experiences have you engineered for your children with their future in mind? What responsibilities have you given your children? What are the consequences when these responsibilities are not met?)
The Purpose or Contribution of Schools
4. What, in your view, does it mean for schools to “educate” your children? (E.g. To give them background knowledge and skills? To help them mature socially? To accredit and certify them for higher education? To help them discover who they are? To build their inner confidence by affirming their achievements?)
5. In what specific ways do you expect schools to complement what you, as a family, hold as important regarding the total education of your child? Which domains do you think it appropriate that schools address, and which domains do you think are best addressed elsewhere?
What is (Most) Important?
6. On a 1-10 scale, how important is it that your son or daughter:
- Be “happy” at school in the sense of having friends, liking his or her teachers, and feeling confident and affirmed?
- Become intellectually and physically challenged at school, even if exposure to these challenges can sometimes be uncomfortable?
- Discover and express their particular strength or ability (e.g. dance, mathematics, scientific inquiry, art, etc.) at school
- Be exposed to a broad range of knowledge (e.g. geography, history, literature, art, current affairs, science, philosophy, etc.), even though some of these may not be of initial interest?
- Be able to express themselves clearly in written form? In spoken form (i.e. in the sense of giving an oral report and making a speech)?
- Be able to master basic mathematical operations?
- Become knowledgeable about the human body and physically active at school?
7. What specific things do you think your school does well in complementing the values of your family and\\\\or the goals that you want your children to achieve? What things do you think it would be appropriate for your school to do to better complement the values of your family and\\\\or the goals that you want your children to achieve?
Best Fit ~ Your Child
8. What personality traits best describe your child? (e.g. Gregarious? Confident? Quiet? Curious? Anxious? Lethargic? Uninspired? Leader? Follower? Intellectually precocious? Innocent? Socially Advanced?)
9. How would you describe your child’s current learning profile? (e.g. Highly competent and intellectually precocious? Moderately competent and intellectually curious? Intellectually capable with potential to blossom? Moderately to exceptionally capable, but not operating at his or her full potential? Learning challenged?)
10. Given your child’s personality traits and learning profile, what kind of educational environment do you think he or she needs a) to feel secure?, and\\\\or b) to thrive?