A different way of teaching

An alternative school in Vernon is changing the way teachers think about education and that has grabbed the attention of professors at UBC.

UBC researchers are collaborating with educators to re-imagine the future of education at Vernon Community School (VCS).

“The work being done at Vernon Community School extends far beyond the immediacies of the classroom,” said Margaret Macintyre Latta, a UBC professor in the Faculty of Education. “It is reshaping long-term understandings of what constitutes education, curriculum and community.”

Established in 2014, VCS consists of 80 students from Grade 7-11, associated parents, mentors and the wider community, along with researchers and teacher candidates from UBC Okanagan, and four educators from the Vernon School District. 

VCS was approved by the local school board with the condition it be housed as a program within a secondary school with declining enrolment.

Operating out of Clarence Fulton Secondary School, VCS focuses on social justice, celebrating inclusion and diversity and fostering student engagement through BC’s revised curriculum.

“Vernon Community School embraces the vision of a highly engaged community of learners,” said Joe Rogers, Vernon School District superintendent. “The involvement of community members and individual students has challenged ‘regular’ classrooms to re-imagine how we invite and extend learning into the community.”  

UBC researchers are observing the learning environment by attending to the individualized thinking of both the student and the educators.  

“As co-researchers we are inquiring with VCS educators, families, students, and mentors to document how curriculum can be co-constructed through the passions and interests of students and community,” said Leyton Schnellert, assistant professor in the Faculty of Education. “VCS has realized the potential of inquiry-based learning for empowering students to be the authors of their own identities and learning.”

Educators from VCS, and co-researchers Kim Ondrik and Murray Sasges, explain students and educators work together continually to create a community of learning through mindful curricular enactment.

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