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Teachers and administrators from private schools from across Canada explain the advantages of special programs that benefit academically advanced kids.
The ability of some private schools to attend more fully to students with exceptional academic abilities is one of their benefits. Get a glimpse inside advanced placement programs, international baccalaureate programmes, and gifted kids' schools.
Ruth Denis Gladstone, who teaches Advanced Placement classes in history, English, chemistry and biology, has witnessed how the program truly enriches the students' learning experience.
"Not only does each course advance them at the university level and give them a credit towards their degree, it inspires them to do more research and dig deeper into each theory," she says of the program at the Canadian Independent College in Baden, Ontario. "Their added excitement about learning is inspiring for them and also for me as a teacher. It broadens their perspective. It's inspiring to me that they want to work harder and learn as much as they can."
You can use Our Kids' listings to learn about schools near you with advanced placement programs.
Glenlyon Norfolk School in Victoria, British Columbia, has had many incarnations: As two separate, gender-segregated schools; as a unified, coed school; and now, stretching its scope to include the international gold standard as an International Baccalaureate World school.
"The IB program is not just about finding out what the right answers are; it's about finding out what the right questions are," says Deirdre Chettleburgh, Director of Admissions.
The school started incorporating the International Baccalaureate Programme —which emphasizes an inquiry-based approach to learning—in 1996, and now offers all three divisions of the popular system: junior, middle and senior.
"It reflects how education is changing, becoming much more active than just taking notes and memorizing text,"Chettleburgh says.
While many of the school's IB students stay in Canada to attend university, some members of the 2008 graduating class will be traveling to Harvard University in Boston, Massachusetts and to schools as far away as Switzerland and England to study next year.
"All our students have been identified as intellectually gifted," says Barbara Rosenberg, Director of The Academy for Gifted Children —P.A.C.E., in Richmond Hill, Ontario, where all of the students undergo a psychosocial assessment to determine their abilities. "But once they enter the building, it's a very normal environment, which is important."
P.A.C.E. focuses on teaching higher level thinking skills such as applying, analyzing and evaluating information, while nurturing students' creativity and intellectual curiosity.
Students learn a broad mix of academic and creative subjects, and the school also offers extracurricular programs to engage students' imagination, including puppetry and a rocket club. Students also enthusiastically participate in competitions with other schools, testing their skills in math, writing, chess, improvisation and theatre —even Lego architecture.
Rosenberg isn't just the school's director, she's also a parent. She founded the school 15 years ago, unsatisfied with the choices out there for her gifted sons.
"I wanted a program that was appropriate to their needs," she says. "I just wanted what every parent wants: A good solid education for my children."