The Element is an innovative high school, which places youth in their ‘element’, in school and beyond. Located in the dynamic Lansdowne Park area, The Element hosts Grade 7 to 12 students who thrive on being challenged and engaged in the whole educational process. Although the curriculum is based on Montessori pedagogy, a previous Montessori education is not required; a passion for life, knowledge and global inquiry is!
The Our Kids review of The Element High School
The Element is that rare bird of secondary education: a Montessori high school. The Element grew out of a primary program at OMS Montessori, building into the intermediate grades and, ultimately, through the high school grades. In 2012, The Element became distinct unto its own, offering a consistent program from grades 7 to 12. Then, in 2015, it moved into its own space, becoming physically distinct as well. Nevertheless, the foundational principle remains across all grades, providing learning that is self-referential and student directed. The ideal student is one who thrives within a very hands-on environment, who is guided by their curiosity, and is able to make the most a greater range of academic independence.
Gregory Dixon, School Director
On behalf of the The Element community, thank you for visiting our profile. As School Director, I have the privilege of working with a proficient team of parents, alumni, faculty and staff who are dedicated to offering their best to each of our students. We work tirelessly to realize our mission by delivering an educational experience designed to inspire and challenge students to discover the best of who they are, while year after year reaching to achieve their full potential.
As a parent, you recognize that choosing a school for your child is one of the most significant decisions you will make. We need specific criteria by which to choose the ideal educational approach for our children. It is clear that the school years help to form the core foundation of our approach to learning and problem-solving, as well as who we are as contributing, global citizens. We at The Element are here to support you.
At The Element, we provide our students with an educational foundation from which they can achieve personal and academic goals, while building independence, self-confidence and self-esteem. The unique Montessori methodology, with its student-centered approach, encourages the development of personal responsibility and thinking skills, as well as fostering a love of learning. Each student is guided in the exploration of his or her own learning style and the development of work habits most suited to individual interests and needs.
Please browse our website and discover how we work together with Element parents to empower students to become self-regulated, engaged and lifelong learners. As trained experts in education, we understand that observation is an essential component in the decision making process. As such, we would like to invite you to visit us for a tour of our spacious and peaceful learning environment. This is the most personal way to see what The Element has to offer your student and family.
The Element, an extension of OMS Montessori, is a not-for-profit school. For over 50 years, OMS Montessori has offered exceptional education to families in the city of Ottawa. We are thrilled to now offer our programming through high school. We welcome you to call and chat with our friendly staff (613-862-8578) or email ([email protected]) regarding your student’s education. Share with us how we can partner with you and your family to further explore Montessori education and philosophy.
It is with great anticipation that we embark on the next 50 years at The Element. Please join us on this journey of promise and excitement.
Particularly popular in the younger grades (preschool to elementary), but sometimes available all the way up to high school, Montessori schools offer an alternative vision to the standard lesson format of most classrooms. Lessons are highly decentralized: children typically work individually (though sometimes with others) on specialized "Montessori materials" -- without interference from the teacher. The materials are self-correcting and teach the student something about the subject at hand. The method's goal is to develop children's innate desire to learn, while freeing up time for teachers to help children individually, as needed.
If you want to learn more about Montessori education, check out our comprehensive guide. You can also check out our guide to Montessori preschools, elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools.
What Element High School says: When we are ‘in our element,’ we are focused, engaged, internally motivated, fulfilled and we strive to do our best. This is the basis of a Montessori education. The Element High School offers an environment which puts youth ‘in their element,’ in school and in preparation for life. What engages us depends on our stage of development; therefore, The Element High School offers two programs: e1 for Grades 7 and 8 and e2 for Grades 9 to 12, each responsive to two unique stages of students’ development. Each of these programs takes advantage of the intersection of our youth’s developmental characteristics and the requirements of the real world. This creates the conditions for focused engagement that lead to personal excellence. All learners are welcome. If students are interested in engaging in the next steps in their educational career and have the determination to work with teachers with maturity and independence, this program is ideal as a precursor to college or university entry.
These math programs feature an equal balance of “Traditional” and “Discovery” methods.
Learn about the different mathematics approaches
What Element High School says: At The Element, Math, like English and French, is taught throughout the year for continuity and retention. The Grade 9 (MPM1D) and 10 (MPM2D) math courses are prescribed by the Ministry of Education. In Grades 11 and 12, students can take Functions (MCR3U), Advanced Functions (MHF4U) and Calculus and Vectors (MCV4U).The math courses are generally offered at the University Preparation level, although the courses can be adapted for a College Preparation level if it is in the best interest of particular student.
Textbooks and supplementary materials: This information is not currently available.
Calculator policy: This information is not currently available.
Science programs that balance expository and inquiry learning equally will likely have an equal blend of tests and experiments; direct, textbook-based instruction and student-centred projects.
Learn about the different science approaches
Teaching approach: Compulsory courses in the humanities and sciences are offered each year in semesters or more compressed units. Elective humanities and sciences are provided in a cycle rather than every course being offered every year. They are offered often enough for students to take the courses that they elect. The English language courses coordinate with the humanities and sciences.
Topics covered in curriculum:
Treatment of evolution:
|Evolution as consensus theory|
|Evolution as one of many equally viable theories|
|Evolution is not taught|
These literature programs draw in equal measure from “Traditional” and “Social Justice” programs.
Learn about the different literature approaches
What Element High School says: Literature courses are designed not only to complete the Ontario Secondary School Curriculum requirements, but also to challenge and engage students at every grade level. Students explore works of literature through a historical lens, studying 20th century literature in grade 9, 19th century literature in grade 10, 18th century literature in grade 11, and pre-18th century literature in grade 12. Students learn to interpret literary devices and themes in a variety of contemporary and classical texts, including novels, plays, poetry, short stories, and media. They also participate in writing skills workshops, which allow them to learn about and experiment with grammar, mechanics, and style in the English language.
Pragmatism in the humanities and social sciences emphasizes making learning relevant to students’ present-day experience. Assignments tend to centre around projects and tasks rather than argumentative essays; these projects will often have a “real-world” application or relevance. There might be more of a social justice component to a pragmatic program, though that isn’t always the case. Subjects like history and philosophy are still covered/offered, but they play a less prominent role in the overall program than in the case of perennialism. The social sciences (contemporary geography, sociology, psychology, etc), meanwhile, might play a more prominent role in pragmatic programs. The key goals are to make learning progressive and relevant, while teaching students real-life skills and critical thinking.
Learn about the different humanities and social sciences approaches
What Element High School says: Compulsory courses in the humanities and sciences are offered each year in semesters or more compressed units. Elective humanities and sciences are provided in a cycle rather than every course being offered every year. They are offered often enough for students to take the courses that they elect. The English language courses coordinate with the humanities and sciences. Specific academic skills such as note taking, studying, test taking, research, academic writing, and oral and multi-media presentation are taught directly as an integral part of the courses. The close communication, possible within a smaller school, allows these skills to develop throughout the high school experience.
These programs feature an equal blend of the audio-lingual and communicative styles of language instruction.
Learn about the different foreign languages approaches
What Element High School says: French as a Second Language is a strong core component of the program, integrated into ongoing humanities studies.
Languages Offered: • French
These programs have an equal emphasis on receptive and creative learning.
Learn about the different fine arts approaches
Visual studio philosophy:
What Element High School says: Students have a number of ways to participate in the arts. They can take a credit course in visual arts, music, dance, drama or integrated studies, audit a course rather than taking it for credit, be exposed to the arts through the interdisciplinary assignments of other courses or use The Element facilities to explore the arts without the directed intent of a course. The Element has a dedicated Art/Design Studio. Guest artists are an important component of the program as young people respond to adults who are passionate about their work. With the flexibility of The Element’s scheduling, students are also able to go out into the community to work alongside artists in their studios. A faculty member works with students to find appropriate mentors.
A major effort is made to integrate the development of digital literacy throughout the curriculum and in everything students do. Digital literacy is understood to be a fundamental skill in the 21st century: it therefore follows, the idea goes, that teachers should find ways to connect every lesson back to technology. Effort is made to ensure the use of technology is meaningful and advances students’ skills beyond what they would otherwise be from using computers outside the classroom.
Learn about the different computers and technology approaches
What Element High School says: Students at The Element use modern technology daily for research, organizational purposes and multi-media presentations. In the younger grades, students explore technology through their entrepreneurship program, where some students opt to work with our 3D printer. We also have formal computer studies courses for Grade 11 and Grade 12 students. Students can take an Introduction to Computer Science (ICS3U) in Grade 11 and Computer Science (ICS4U) in Grade 12.
What Element High School says: Physical Education courses that meet the Ministry of Education’s requirements are offered and focus on a range of individual, team and competitive activities. In addition to Ministry courses, students often create their own clubs and teams based on their interests, regardless of whether they are taking a formal Phys. Ed. course. The Element participates in inter-scholastic competition with other independent and public schools. The Element also encourages daily activity, and being in Lansdowne Park provides many opportunities to be physically active throughout the day, from the skateboard park and basketball courts to the skating rink and canal. Individual sports can be pursued with other interested peers at The Element or accommodated through community sports clubs. The flexibility of our scheduling also makes The Element an ideal choice for students who are in elite sports and who require adaptive schedules.
|Topics||We begin covering this topic at:||Begins in Ontario|
|Body parts||Gr. 7||Gr. 1|
|Nutrition||Gr. 7||Gr. 1|
|Human development||Gr. 7||Gr. 1|
|Puberty||Gr. 7||Gr. 4|
|Sexual health and hygiene||Gr. 7||Gr. 4|
|Reproduction||Gr. 7||Gr. 5|
|Pregnancy||Gr. 7||Gr. 7|
|Sexually transmitted infections||Gr. 7||Gr. 7|
|Sex and decision-making||Gr. 7||Gr. 7|
|Contraception||Gr. 8||Gr. 8|
|Consent||Gr. 9||Gr. 9|
|Sexual orientation||Gr. 8||Gr. 8|
|Gender identity||Gr. 8||Gr. 8|
|Misconceptions relating to sexuality||Gr. 10||Gr. 10|
|Relationships and intimacy||Gr. 8||Gr. 8|
|Bias and stereotyping about sex||Gr. 12||Gr. 12|
|Sexual harassment||Gr. 9||Gr. 9|
|Body image issues||Gr. 7||Gr. 7|
|Mental illness||Gr. 11||Gr. 11|
|Social justice and diversity||Gr. 9|
What Element High School says: The Element High School closely follows the milestones of the Ontario Curriculum in the topics of Sexual Education and Health. We engage with medical personnel to present concepts and ensure that students are within a safe environment to pose questions and receive factual responses. The Element High School presents curriculum in a manner consistent with Montessori philosophy; respecting each student\'s individual needs socially, emotionally and academically.
What Element High School says: The Human Development session in Humanities focuses on human development from conception to adolescents to help the students gain an understanding of who they are and why their bodies are changing as they are. An examination, reflection and discussion on personal values, social responsibility issues and choices as well as healthy relationships and communication styles are also an important component of our human development study.
Orthodox Moderate Orthodox Moderately Non-Orthodox Non-Orthodox
| Age groupings
How children are grouped by age for each class.
|12 to 14||14 to 18|
| Uninterrupted work periods
The longest uninterrupted work period for each class.
|3 hours||3 hours|
| Tests and assignments
How often students are given tests or assignments in each class.
| Graded work
How often students have their work graded in each class.
| Arts and crafts
The percentage of a typical student's day that is spent on arts and crafts in each class.
Whole-class lectures should never be given. Students learn best through small group lessons, interaction, and independent work.
Whole-class lectures should only be given occasionally (e.g., at the beginning of a term or unit). Students usually learn best through small group lessons, interaction, and independent work.
Whole-class lectures should be given semi-regularly (e.g., at the beginning of a lesson or a week). While students often learn best through group and independent work, it's sometimes important for teachers to set the stage for and contextualize learning.
Whole-class lectures should be given often (e.g., every day). While group and independent learning is important, teachers need to provide lectures on a regular basis to provide the foundation for learning.
External special education support isn't necessary. Core teachers can deal with all special education needs, by offering the relevant support for each student.
External special education support is only rarely necessary. For instance, a psychologist might be brought in to help out a student with a severe developmental disorder.
External special education support is quite important. Outside specialists are needed for a fairly wide range of special needs, such as developmental and learning disabilities.
External special education support is very important. Outside specialists are regularly brought in to support students with many different types of special needs, including developmental and learning disabilities, language and speech issues, behavioural issues, and advanced learning abilities.
We don't have any specialist teachers or classes. Core teachers are well-equipped to teach all subjects.
We only use specialist teachers and classes in rare cases (for instance, to teach a second language). Core teachers are well-equipped to teach almost all subjects.
We have a fairly wide range of specialist teachers and classes (for instance, in languages, music, and art). Core teachers are well-equipped to teach most subjects.
We have many specialist teachers and classes (for instance, in languages, music, art, gym, science, and math). It's important that students receive specialized instruction in many subjects.
Modern-day technology is never used in the classroom. This can interfere with students' social and emotional development and can be a distraction.
Modern-day technology is very rarely used in class, since it can be a distraction and interfere with development. Students at the upper levels, though, might be permitted to use a computer or a tablet to do research for a specific project.
Modern-day technology is used in moderation since it can be a distraction. For instance, computers and other digital media might be used for research, writing, and multimedia projects.
Modern technology is used fairly regularly. For instance, computers and other digital media might be used for research, writing, multimedia projects, and to learn keyboarding skills. Teachers may sometimes also use digital media, such as interactive whiteboards, to teach lessons or introduce topics.
Schools that adhere strictly to the original Montessori program. They follow Montessori principles to the letter.
Schools that adhere to the original Montessori program and principles. On occasion, though, they supplement it with modern curricular approaches or materials.
Schools that are faithful to the original Montessori program and principles, but sometimes supplement it with modern curricular approaches or materials.
Schools that are faithful to the original Montessori program and principles, but often supplement it with modern curricular approaches or materials.
The main curriculum pace is non-standardized and is HIGHLY responsive to the pacing of individual students, (via differentiated instruction, differentiated assessment, etc). In theory, some students outpace the default/normalized curriculum, while others spend periods "behind schedule" if they need the extra time.
|Flexible pacing style||= offered|
|Multi-age classrooms as standard|
|Ability-grouping (in-class) as common|
|Frequent use of cyber-learning (at-their-own-pace)|
|Regular guided independent study opportunities|
What Element High School says about flexible pacing: This information is not currently available.
A school with a “supportive” academic culture focuses more on process than short-term outcomes: academic performance is a welcomed side-benefit, but not the driving focus. This does not mean the school lacks standards, or has low expectations for its students: a school can have a supportive academic culture and still light the fire of ambition in its students. It does mean, however, the school provides a less intensive culture than schools with a “rigorous” academic classification, and is focused more simply on instilling a love of learning and life-long curiosity.
What Element High School says: Curriculum allows for discussion and debate. Adolescents respond best to respect and choice, not only as an aid to developing independence, but also as reinforcement to their personal dignity. Each student has a dedicated faculty advisor to assist him or her in all aspects of the program. We balance the support needed for academic progress with our goal of creating independent learners.
What Element High School says: The goal of The Element is to support the development of well-balanced individuals who know and accept themselves, and live as active, responsible community members.
Element High School can provide support for mild disablities. Element High School does NOT provide specialized support for moderate-to-severe learning disabilities, developmental disabililties, behavioural/emotional disorders, or physical disabilities.
|Support Type||= offered|
|Learning strategy and study counselling; habit formation|
|Extra support and minor accommodations for children experiencing subclinical difficulties|
|Support Type||= offered|
Formal adjustments are made to the delivery of lessons to help mitigate the learning difficulty or exceptionality. The underlying content and expectations remain unchanged with accommodations, however. (Example: allowing a student to write tests in a quieter room).
The underlying content and expectations are modified and/or simplified for the sake of the student. (Examples: allowing student to use a calculator on a test when other students can't; allowing students to bring word-banks or "cheat sheets" into certain tests, etc)
|Extra support |
Research-based therapeutic measures that target and ameliorate the underlying weakness.
What Element High School says: We treat each student as an individual. Through discussions with parents, student and specialists, we determine how to best meet the students’ needs and whether or not our school is the best choice in meeting those needs.
Element High School does not offer any specialized programming for gifted learners.
In grade 12, The Element High School students perform an average of 30 mins of homework per night.Nightly Homework
|Element High School||30 mins||30 mins||30 mins||30 mins||30 mins||30 mins|
|Site Average||54 mins||59 mins||71 mins||82 mins||97 mins||110 mins|
How assessments are delivered across the grades:
|Lettered or numbered grades||7 to 12|
|Prose (narrative)-based feedback||7 to 12|
|Academic achievement reporting||7 to 12|
|Habits and behaviour reporting||7 to 12|
|Parent-teacher meetings||7 to 12|
|Non-lunch recess||Frequency |
How often recess takes place, not including lunch recess.
Weather permitting, whether recess takes places inside or outside.
How many minutes of non-lunch recess time are offered per day, on average.
|Lunch recess||Amount |
How many minutes of lunch recess time are offered per day, on average.
What Element High School says: This information is not currently available.
|Track & Field|
|Discount Type||Enrollment Type||Amount|
|3rd child (sibling)||all students||10%|
|Grade range that need-based aid is offered:|
|Percentage of grade-eligible students receiving financial aid||0%|
|Average aid package size||$0|
|Percentage of total enrollment on financial aid||0%|
|Total aid available||$0|
This school works with Apple Financial Inc. for processing financial applications
1. Families will go to the Apples Financial Services website at www.applefinancialservices.ca. 2. Families will create a parent account registration. 3. After the email address provided is verified, a response will be sent with the subject line “Account Set-up” 4. Families will then go into the online application. 5. At the end of the process, requests will appear for the uploading of tax information, i.e. T4s, current year’s pay statements, etc. 6. Once the information is uploaded the payment section will appear and the $100 application fee will be required. Please note, it is an additional $30 for a secondary application for the same student by the other parent. Payments can be made by credit card (Visa & MasterCard).
This information is not currently available.
|Interview||7 - 9|
|SSAT (out of province)|
Type of student The Element High School is looking for: All learners are welcome. If students are interested in engaging in the next steps in their educational career and have the determination to work with teachers with maturity and independence, this program is ideal as a precursor to college or university entry.
Student Entry Points
|Average graduating class size||N/A|
|*Canadian "Big 6" placements||N/A|
*Number of students in 2015 who attended one of McGill, U of T, UBC, Queen's University, University of Alberta, or Dalhousie University.
**Number of students since 2005 that attended one of Harvard, Yale, Princeton, University of Pennsylvania, Dartmouth, Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Stanford, University of Chicago, Oxford or Cambridge (UK)
|Morgana McKenzie||2012||Morgana is a Filmmaker & Visual Artist. Here latest film, GIFTS, has won 8 awards and screened at 21 festivals.|
The Element, Ottawa's First Montessori High School, is moving to Lansdowne Park in Ottawa's Glebe neighbourhood for September 2015! This dynamic location is perfect for a school where the extracurricular is the curricular. A previous Montessori education is not required but a passion for life is! Contact us for more information: http://elementhighschool.com/contact/...
"The Montessori way of education in your school has stimulated our daughter's interest and continuously improved her levels of self-motivated learning and social communication abilities… We definitely recommend OMS Montessori (a division of The Element) to the consideration of all our friends in Ottawa." -Nan Zhang and Qinghua Zhang, parents of a current Lower Elementary student
“The facility is above and beyond our previous experience. The staff is experienced and professional. There is a rich second language program. We could go on… When we visited the classroom, it was clear the children were having a peaceful, beautiful, and fulfilling school experience.” -Leslie Giddings and Robert Brunelle, Parents of two former Casa students
“The school is bright, inviting and cheerful and it is clear that the staff take a great deal of pride in their work. I couldn’t help but notice that the children were engaged, calm and content." -Sabrina McTaggart, Career Coach
“Thank you for your time, your passion, and your dedication to teaching our children in the wonderful and caring way that you do. You have taught them to be creative and to express themselves in new ways. As a result our children are confident and motivated among many more great qualities that they have acquired under your leadership.” -Leena Patel, Mother of former Junior High student
“On behalf of the Riverview Park Community Association, I would like to thank you for being such a central and valuable member of our community. Your school is a very important asset to our neighbourhood and we would like to tell you how much we appreciate all you do to make Riverview Park a safe, creative and interesting place to live.” -Karin Keyes Endemann, President of RPCA...
When we embarked on The Element Odyssey Trip this past fall, we made the transition from classroom books and pencils to canoe paddles and tents. However, from a science perspective we also made a fascinating ecological transition; we traveled from Ottawa’s Temperate Forest Biome to the grand Boreal Forest Biome.
While on the trip we kept detailed records of the life forms in our new biome. We then brought our observations back to the classroom where we launched into a six-week biome study. Part of the students’ work was to write a case study report on an ecological concern of their choice in the Boreal Forest. Students were required to research the issue in depth, as well as solutions that are currently being explored across Canada.
When it came time to share our reports, Alan Young, Executive Director of the Boreal Forest Initiative, came to our science class and listened to the students’ reports. Alan shared afterwards that he thoroughly enjoyed listening to the students’ reports and was also impressed by the insightful questions they posed. In fact, he was so impressed with our students’ reports that he asked to have a hard copy of each one so he could present them at his upcoming meeting in Toronto with the Boreal Leadership Council. Off the reports went for a meeting with Council members such as TD Bank, World Wildlife Fun, Desjardins Funds, Suncor Energy and Forest Ethics.
After the meeting, we received the following letter from Alan: Boreal Leadership Council
We are very proud of our students for creating case studies that made such strong impressions on professionals in the industry.
Here is one of the student’s impressive case study reports: Woodland Caribou Case Study- Element work...
Students of The Element performed the play “Le Nez” as a culmination to a five week drama session. In addition to learning their role, students were responsible for all aspects of the play including set design, props, sound and lighting, hair and make-up and the program. The English-speaking Element students performed the play in French. The play was an incredible amount of work for all students, but it was a tremendous success....
For three days experts, advisors, and future leaders gathered together to develop pathways for promising initiatives in education with transformative potential.
The gathering, known as the Equinox Summit: Learning 2030, brought in individuals from six different continents, representing diverse socioeconomic backgrounds. “Together, the group created a vision of a scalable, affordable, sustainable learning system for the high school graduates of 2030” (Overview, Equinox Comminiqué Learning 2013).
This second event in the Equinox Summit series was presented by Waterloo Global Science Initiative (WGSI) and was centered on learning, with a specific focus on high school. Interestingly, the Equinox Blueprint (see link below) aims to provide clear recommendations on building a learning environment that fosters critical thinking, problem solving, and innovation, which is strikingly similar to the environments Maria Montessori aimed to create through her method of education.
Current research supports the need to establish life-long learners, where students learn through activity. Based on Montessori principles, our version of this radical learning environment can be seen today in our High School.
Here is a link to the blueprint, which offers some of the most cutting-edge and current thoughts on education. It supports all that we do, and all that we plan to do, through Montessori....
Science labs found in textbooks and used in schools are often presented like recipes where students follow a series of steps leading to a final product. The problem with simply following a procedure is that it doesn't require students to think critically as they complete the lab.
A simple method to improve student engagement and ownership in the science lab is to omit the procedure and require students to develop the steps themselves. By developing the procedure themselves, students need to think about what steps to include, the order of the steps and why each step needs to be included. By the time the lab is conducted, students have a thorough understanding of exactly what is being done and why.
Another advantage of having students design their own labs is that it allows each student to create a unique solution and provides an opportunity for extension. For example, in the current grade 7 and 8 (Not 9?) science class, students were asked to develop a procedure to separate a mixture of rocks, sand, iron filings, salt and water. For most students, the final step in this process was to separate the salt from the water using separation by evaporation. However, some students recognized that this method allowed the water to escape. While the collection of the water was not a requirement, select (or maybe say the amount? Example: 3 particular students) students decided they wanted to solve that additional problem and used a condenser to cool the water vapour and collect the water.
While developing the procedure for every activity would be extremely time consuming, giving students more ownership over the process results in more creative solutions, better understanding and a lot more fun....
The Element High School students presented their very own play, Alice @ Wonderland, a contemporary recreation of the classic. ...
This dynamic location was chosen to support The Element's integrated program... ...
Alumna Morgana McKenzie and her filmmaking work are featured on a five-page spread in the current issue of Ottawa Family Living magazine... ...
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