Middle school matters


Institutional Context and History  of Island Pacific School

Dr. Ted Spear established the Renaissance II Liberal Education Society in 1984 with the goal of improving the educational practices adopted within contemporary schools. He wanted to revitalize the theory and practice of a liberal education he felt was missing in the educational experience of most students. He believed that a “liberal education enabled a person to free themselves from both the ignorance and superstitions of one’s own time”. Dr. Spear was interested in cultivating in students “the very best of what it meant to be a human being.”

The Renaissance II Liberal Education Society, in turn, founded Island Pacific School in 1995. It began as an independent middle school for students in Grades 7-9 and its principal mission was steeped in Renaissance II ideology. There were 14 students enrolled in the first year. Dr. Spear then created the Institute of Liberal Education in 2001 as a way for Island Pacific School faculty members to explore the theory and practice of a liberal education. Conducted as Tuesday afternoon seminars in the school, the IPS group began with a survey of the philosophy of liberal education and then moved toward curriculum development and implementation within the context of a middle school. These kinds of professional conversations engaged teaching faculty with pedagogical issues unique to middle school culture.

Today the school continues to operate as an independent society, distinct from the Renaissance II Liberal Education Society. Called the Island Pacific School Society, the school’s governance structure has been made substantially more transparent, inclusive, and democratic as part of strategic plan to sustain the school for future generations of young people.

IPS is fast gaining a first-rate reputation on provincial, national, and international fronts. In September of 2007 the school became a member of the Independent School Association of British Columbia (ISABC)—a small cohort of day and boarding schools that, like IPS, are mission-driven institutions that stand for excellence. In November of 2008 IPS became a member of the Canadian Association of Independent Schools (CAIS)—a national cohort of outstanding independent schools that includes some of Canada’s oldest and most established institutions like Upper Canada College, Brentwood, St. Michael’s University School, and Saint George’s. It is important to note that IPS is the smallest member school of CAIS. In July of 2009, IPS became an International Baccalaureate (IB) World School. This achievement is significant because it represents the collective efforts of IPS teachers who have worked tirelessly over the years to create a culture for learning that is steeped in scholarship, service, and global mindedness. Today IPS Graduates can earn credits toward their high school graduation program when they complete Masterworks, Duke of Ed. and English 10.

Island Pacific School Motto: Learning. To Make a Difference. 

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