Customized Education Options: Opening the Door to Learning
From technology in the classroom and a focus on traditional learning styles to arts-based teaching and outdoor school, how a student learns matters. Discover more about Calgary’s diverse customized education options, from charter schools to independent academies, and find the right environment for your child to succeed.
West Island College
Grade Levels: 7 to 12
Student Body Population: 588
Number of Clubs: 44+
Sports Teams: 27+
Average Class Size: 20 to 22
Average University Acceptance Rate: 100%
Students at West Island College (WIC) find the perfect balance between academics and passion, inspiring each to be bold, brave and ready for any challenge that comes their way. Now in its 40th year, WIC boasts nearly 600 students from grades seven to 12, and has grown its curriculum from what was once francophone-only to an English and Continuing French Immersion school.
With unique programming from outdoor education and international travel to institute programs tailored to each students’ educational needs, WIC remains dedicated to the families and the children who walk through its doors.
“Our priorities are to ensure every student feels known and supported and that they receive individual guidance and assistance in setting and reaching their goals,” says Erlynn Gococo, Admissions Director at WIC. “A sense of belonging, a key factor in our well-being as individuals, is at the heart of the WIC culture.”
To create an atmosphere where all students feel welcome, WIC offers a culturally diverse learning environment to foster an enriched learning experience and better prepare students for life beyond high school.
“Everyone wants to feel safe and valued, but more importantly, everyone has a right to feel safe and valued,” says Natasha Bathgate, Director of Learning and Innovation at WIC.
Part of the support and guidance WIC provides students includes offering programs that cultivate passion, interest and challenge students to excel in areas such as the fine arts, business, athletics, leadership, engineering and health sciences.
WIC’s Student Success Centre (SSC) ensures each and every student has the support and resources necessary to achieve their goals, both academic and personal.
“Staff in this department support students through social-emotional and academic counselling, career planning and preparing for post-secondary admissions, as well as with a range of learning styles and individual education plans,” says Gococo.
Having the right educators to help guide students forward is also an integral cog in WIC’s long-standing formula for success.
Faculty and staff are highly trained, enthusiastic and committed to each student’s academic, social, emotional and personal growth.
“Passionate educators are led and inspired by the college’s mission and vision,” says Gococo, “which is to empower each student to thrive, contribute and live a healthy, purposeful life while encouraging them to be curious, creative and innovative.”
With new Head of School and CEO Erin Corbett now advancing that mission and vision, WIC is poised to continue its tradition of educational excellence well into the future.
WIC is accepting limited applications for the 2022/23 school year.
Grade Levels: 3 to 12
Student Body Population: 296
Number of Clubs: 20
Sports Teams: 14
Average Class Size: 12 to 14
Average University Acceptance Rate: 85%
From building confidence to maximizing potential, Foothills Academy gives students with learning disabilities the skills needed to thrive in all walks of life.
“Students with learning disabilities are all very capable individuals with great potential but require specific support for certain aspects of their education to reach their true potential,” says Simon Williams, Executive Co-Director of Foothills Academy. “We provide support and intervention to fill learning gaps so students can thrive and have successful lives.”
Established in 1979, Foothills Academy was the first designated special educational needs school in Alberta. Today, the school takes pride in being a leader in learning disability education and co-occurring diagnoses like ADHD. It continues to follow specific programming and intervention to support students’ academic, social and emotional needs.
Grade levels span from grade three — typically when a learningdisability is professionally diagnosed — to grade 12. The 296 student body allows for smaller classes of 12 to 14 students with educational assistants in each classroom, creating more personalized learning and teaching. In turn, students find better understanding, confidence and maximized potential throughout their studies, resulting in a 100 percent high school graduation rate.
The skills students learn at Foothills Academy help set them up for lifelong success as they transition through school, into post-secondary and, eventually, into the workplace.
“We’re not just supporting students to get through high school; that would be wasted opportunity,” says Williams. “We want to help our students develop into the outstanding individuals they can be to find lifelong success.”
That lifelong success starts by helping get students into the school through a strong culture of philanthropy. Thanks to a donation-funded bursary program, 40 percent of families receive financial bursary assistance.
Outside the classroom, the many extra-curricular activities available at Foothills Academy give students a rich school experience and create opportunities to explore interests and develop skills beyond the basic curriculum.
While the school is structured around providing the right interventions and support, Williams says that doesn’t mean it’s the sole focus. “We’ll always address each student’s disability and provide the right intervention, but we don’t want to only talk about the disability,” says Williams. “The focus is on how great they are and what successes and strengths they have.”
Lycée International de Calgary
Grade Levels: preschool (3yo) to 12
Student Body Population: approx 450
Number of Clubs: 30 to 45
Sports Teams: 5
Average Class Size: approx 16
Average University Acceptance Rate: 100%
Bilingual education is a valuable gift to give to your child when it comes to providing an edge in life and a fully rounded education. Lycée International de Calgary (formerly Lycée Louis Pasteur) provides just that edge through its unique bilingual curriculum. Established in 1966, Lycée International de Calgary stands as one of the oldest private schools in Calgary. It is also one of the seven schools in Canada (and the only one in Calgary) that implement both the French Ministry of Education and Alberta Education curriculum, which are taught by French certified and Alberta certified teachers. By graduation, students can earn both an Alberta High School Diploma and French Baccalaureate, providing an advantage when accessing university and global opportunities.
“We offer the best of both worlds,” says Head of School Frédéric Canadas. “It provides them with a global perspective of the world from the Canadian and French perspectives.”
Grade levels span from preschool ages to grade 12 and with a growing student body of 450. Lessons are taught 70 percent of the time in French and 30 percent in English. Students also study Spanish beginning in grade six, right through to high school, meaning they graduate with fluent trilingual skills.
The smaller class sizes — generally 16 to 18 students — serve the school’s approach of providing extra support and more individualized attention. There are also after-school study halls available, where students can complete homework. This supportive approach is important, Canadas explains, as 80 percent of the Lycée families don’t speak French at home.
For students entering grades one and two with little or no prior French exposure, FLIP For French is a unique program that provides individualized learning plans and significant one-on-one time to learn French basics. Most students in FLIP transition to regular academics by the end of the school year. Preschool and kindergarten are also full-day programs to help children learn French, socialize and become familiar with reading, writing and numbers.
Lycée International de Calgary is part of the “Lycée network” called The Agency for French Education Abroad network, which includes more than 500 schools in 140 countries that teach the French curriculum. The network offers the opportunity to travel abroad and experience another culture. Grade eight students can attend a two-week trip to France, and in grade 10, there’s a trip to Peru in the works. For high school students, there are opportunities to study abroad for a trimester or a full year.
Club activities begin as early as preschool and run once or twice a week in semester blocks. “They are prepared academically, but also all around because it’s not just about academics,” explains Canadas. Students can partake in martial arts, yoga, sports and more. Lycée is also one of the only schools in Calgary to offer an indoor climbing wall with certified trainers to guide and teach students climbing techniques.
“We care about the mental health of our students, so we make sure they are socially and emotionally well balanced and have friends and social lives,” says Canadas.
Grade Levels: K to 12
Student Body Population: 1158 (Divided between the Academy, College, and Studio)
Class Size Range: 6 to 16
Number of Clubs: 90+
Sports Teams: 35+
Average University Acceptance Rate: 100% (College); 90% (Academy)
At Rundle, who students are and how they give back to the world matters. Along with a focus on lifelong learning, students can expect a robust environment where resilience and character are built on a personalized basis. “We reallywant character attributes to shine above any academic credential because we believe that developing young people of fine character is our ultimate mission. And if we do that, we’ll set them up for the best opportunity for success, no matter what they choose to do,” says Jason Rogers, Head of School.
The College is home to learners K through 12, while the Academy specializes in students with diagnosed learning disabilities from grades four to 12. The Studio, a new Rundle school modelled after the Academy, provides an online educational experience for students with learning disabilities in grades seven to nine. The Studio accepts students from all over the province — expanding Rundle’s reach well beyond Calgary — and is the first school of its kind in Alberta. Launched early in the pandemic (12 months ahead of schedule), the Studio demonstrates the resiliency Rundle models to its students.
Regardless of which Rundle program a student is enrolled in, all learners are encouraged to participate in co-curricular activities which help develop passion, dedication and leadership skills. Students explore athletics, the arts, esports, STEM and more. “A huge part of our value proposition is that we offer students a diversified experience in all domains of learning and co-curricular… To allow them to reach their potential — potential that they might not have otherwise even imagined,” Rogers says.
Rundle’s focus on small class sizes allows students to receive personalized attention that fosters a sense of belonging and gets to the root of their individual needs. “Every student is recognized and honoured for who they are,” Rogers says. “There’s really no place to fall through the cracks or disappear here at Rundle.” That means each student is called upon multiple times in every class, and faculty members reach out with suggestions for co-curricular activities based on their connection with each student.
Proof of Rundle’s success is easy to see in its students’ GPAs and acceptance to post-secondary, but that’s not the full picture. Rogers cites numerous students — some who have since gone on to Ivy League schools — who started non-profits to give back while still enrolled at Rundle. And the community built during their years at school often sticks with students for life. “When students graduate, they stay connected as alumni, and remain part of our Rundle family,” Rogers says, noting around three-quarters of graduates remain active in the alumni community. “We really view Rundle as a K-to-forever program.”
Grade Levels: K to 12 (Collegiate); 2-12 (Academy); 9-12 (Blended+)
Student Body Population: 645
Number of Clubs: 26
Sports Teams: 14 different sports teams
Average Class Size: 12-20 (Collegiate); 8-10 (Academy), 15-20 (Blended+)
Average University Acceptance Rate: Within one year of graduating, 85-90% of students are accepted to a post-secondary institution.
Every student is unique, and Calgary Academy staff not only understand their students’ differences, they embrace them. Anchoring the school’s core learning approach is REACH — Respect, Enthusiasm, Altruism, Commitment and Honesty — setting the tone for a 40-year history of changing lives.
Calgary Academy has tailored its K-12 curriculum by placing the individual needs of each student at the heart of everything it does. It offers diverse programs, including Academy, Collegiate and a new program called Blended+. Launched in the fall of 2021, Blended+ is the best of online, in-person and off-campus learning for grades 9 to 12.
“Blended+ students choose their schedules throughout the week and decide if they work from home or the classroom depending on the supports they require, which is rare in school systems,” says Tim Carlson, Principal of Calgary Academy.
The school’s Academy program is for students requiring more individualized learning, with a focus on reading, writing and numeracy skills. Its Collegiate program extends beyond the curriculum, preparing students for the next steps in their learning journey.
“Students go through a lot in their lives that is challenging,” says Carlson. “We want to help them build the capacity to successfully navigate and contribute to a rapidly changing world.”
Visit calgaryacademy.com/admissions to get your child on their way to academic success!
Calgary Jewish Academy
Grade Levels: preschool to 9
Student Body Population: 250
Number of Clubs: 10+
Sports Teams: 10+
Average Class Size: 14
Average University Acceptance Rate: N/A
From celebrations of Jewish culture and opportunities to travel to coding and critical thinking, Calgary Jewish Academy challenges students in a way that engages, empowers and enriches their education. “Our students are exposed to a high-level learning experience and have numerousopportunities to thrive in a Jewish Day School environment,” says Head of School Brenda English.
Students engage in both the Alberta program of studies and Judaic studies curriculum studying Jewish faith, history and experiencing its culture. With a rigorous Alberta curriculum, STEM and innovation programs, multiple languages and the introduction of Hebrew in kindergarten and French in grade three, CJA graduates enter high school with trilingual skills.
Grade levels span from preschool to grade nine, with a student body of 250 students, allowing for smaller class sizes and more student-teacher interaction. Opportunities for co-curricular activities include theatre, competitions, sports and more, creating a strong, sound learning experience.
Calgary Jewish Academy’s approach includes experiential, hands-on learning opportunities. As early as preschool, students participate in local trips to museums and beginning in grade five through to graduation, students have the chance for trips abroad. By grade nine, students attend a three-week cultural experience trip to Israel as a culmination of their Jewish day school education.
“As our students depart the CJA, they have a global perspective,” says English. “They have acted globally (tikkun olam) and connected with Jewish peers around the world.”
Capstone Engineering Academy
Grade Levels: 3 to 10 for the coming year
Student Body Population: Estimated 30 students for the coming year.
Number of Clubs: Building clubs and activities dependent on student needs.
Sports Teams: Indoor/outdoor activities and joining several competitions with physical and academic activities.
Average Class Size: Maximum of 18.
Average University Acceptance Rate: Not yet established.
Entering its second year, Capstone Engineering Academy implements an experiential learning process where students get hands-on with the same tools and materials that industry professionals use to solve problems. In addition to following Alberta’s academic curriculum, Capstone’s educators push grade three to 10 students to think critically and creatively through a series of design projects, developing and growing their passion for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).
“We give these students the chance to experience the world in a variety of ways not found in a traditional classroom,” says Head of School Dean C. White.
For Capstone, part of a well-rounded education includes experiences outside the classroom. Students spend hours every week engaging in outdoor pursuits like cycling and skiing and place-based learning at local sites from zoos to scuba diving centres.
Teachers at Capstone also have foundations in STEM — with many coming from previous careers in engineering and science-related fields. Capstone is partnered with the non-profit Roots2STEM educational organization, which over the past eight years has offered STEM camps to schools as well as summer and after-school programs revolving around aerospace and engineering.
“Our job is to give them a well-rounded understanding of what opportunities are available to them and how they can make an impact on the world,” says White.
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