MADRONA'S EDUCATIONAL APPROACH
Madrona is a small independent school that offers an academically challenging program for gifted and exceptional students from Kindergarten through Grade 8.
Our purpose is to prepare our students academically, socially, and emotionally for their future paths. After Grade 8, our students are welcomed into other independent schools and specialized programs in local public high schools.
At Madrona we know that each student’s gifts are different and that students may be advanced in some areas but may need additional support in others. Our strengths are our low student to educator ratio and our focus on project-based and independent learning, intentionally planned to address the asynchronous pathways of gifted
students, and our flexibility. Our expertise is in educating gifted students in a non-traditional way.
We are flexible in our use of space, both indoors and outdoors, the makeup of our student groups (based on student needs rather than chronological age), the courses we offer students, and the ways in which students are able to show their thinking and learning.
Our philosophy is to educate the whole child. This means ensuring that our students develop the foundational skills and the core competencies required to be positive contributors to their local communities. These competencies include thinking and problem solving, entrepreneurship, adaptability, collaboration, communication, analyzing information and curiosity and imagination.
The core competencies and our strong focus on social-emotional learning is embedded in everything we do.
1 These competencies are described in greater detail in The Global Achievement Gap, by Tony Wagner (2008)
Our primary students study core subjects in multi-age small groups, allowing them to progress at their own pace while receiving individualized instruction and support along the way.
In addition to all required subjects in the British Columbia Curriculum, our primary students also develop their social and emotional skills and problem-solving abilities within our SEAL (Social Emotional Aspects of Learning) program. They learn the basics of coding within our Design Technology classes, preparing them to take part in our Tools and Talents program in their intermediate years. Additionally, all students from Kindergarten to Grade 9 receive French instruction.
Primary students also take part in Learning in Depth(LiD), a research-based program created at Simon Fraser University, where each student is assigned a topic to study throughout the year, from a variety of angles, becoming experts in their subject area.
Supervised physical activity is offered every day and the students spend time outside in the fresh air. Physical Education at Madrona is varied and fun. Recent activities have included children’s yoga and dance classes, ice skating, swimming, and outdoor Physical and Health Education classes at local parks.
In all our programs, we seek to balance rich opportunities for intellectual growth with the time needed for children to absorb and integrate what they have learned. Each day includes time for rest, play, and fun. We want every child’s day to be academically, socially, and emotionally fulfilling.
In the intermediate program, Mathematics and Language Arts are taught in small, flexible groupings enabling our students to learn at their own pace and receive individual support as needed. Critical thinking, scientific literacy, and strong skills in reading and writing are emphasized at the intermediate level.
Along with the British Columbia Curriculum, our intermediate students have opportunities to participate in a variety of specialist classes, including Current Events, Tools & Talents, and Design Technology. These courses engage students in projects that give them an
understanding of how technologies are used to solve problems and create innovative solutions in the real world.
Applied Skills and Planning is a Madrona-created course that directly teaches executive functioning skills that our students require to be successful students today, in high school, and throughout their university years and careers. Taught by our school counselor and learning services teacher, students learn organization, self-regulation, planning, and time-management skills that are essential for problem-solving and achieving goals.
At this age level, Physical and Health Education classes are community-focused and include swimming, skating, fencing, rock climbing, hiking, snowshoeing, and other activities that will help students develop lifelong physical health and mental wellbeing.
Madrona Grade 7 to 8 students receive the same individualized education as our primary and intermediate students and continue to cover all required subjects in the British Columbia Ministry Curriculum.
The middle school program includes rigorous academic classes in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), Humanities (English and Social Studies), and French. Skills in critical thinking, communication, research, citizenship, and ethics are a focus in these courses. Arts (Drama, Visual Arts, Music), Physical and Health Education, Digital Citizenship and Tools & Talents complement the British Columbia curriculum and provide opportunities for students
to engage in deep learning in an area of interest or passion.
Service Learning provides opportunities for the development of personal agency and leadership skills. Our middle school students volunteer at local organizations individually and as a cohort. Madrona students are currently engaging with the local community on a project with the Arbutus Greenway, the City of Vancouver, and CityStudio. They also act as buddies for our younger students, lead assemblies, and plan special whole-school events.
Our Applied Skills and Planning program continues with a focus on helping our students learn career-related skills such as resume writing, interview strategies, task management, and decision-making skills.
In their Grade 8 year, we work with each student’s family to ensure that each student finds a program that best meets his/her needs for Grades 9 to 12. This includes liaising with mini-schools, alternative programs, and other independent schools. Our students all transition to schools that will help them meet their university and career goals.