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Three years after a group of Creston parents approached the School District about establishing a Wildflower School program, they’ve finally had their goals realized.
At Tuesday’s Kootenay Lake School Board meeting, trustees voted 8-1 in favour of expanding the Wildflower School program in both Creston and Nelson.
“I’m really thrilled with the opportunity that we have,” said Naomi Ross, Wildflower principal. “It speaks to the province’s endeavour to have personalization of learning more forward in the province and this is a part of that.”
With more than 150 students on a waiting list for the program at its Nelson site and commitments from a number of parents in Creston, the Wildflower School program is gaining serious interest.
“I was very pleased in the discussion that the trustees had, that there was support for the program and the approach that is taken with this program,” said Jeff Jones, school district superintendant.
“The Wildflower program has been a part of our school district over a number of years and we’ve recognized in this time that there is an increasingly growing number of people who are interested in the program,” he said.
“Various groups of people have been talking about the benefit of having the program located within their part of our district as well… until this point in time the program has only existed in Nelson.”
The Wildflower School originated as a private program housed in a church basement. In 2003, the program became part of School District #8 and has grown to become designated as its own school.
The program is designed with a multi-age, multi-year structure with a philosophy of continuous progress for students.
“There’s a number of things that set it apart,” said Jones. “One is the intentional involvement of parents as co-instructors in the program where parents are partners in the instruction of their students and they have to commit to spending a minimum of one day a week as the instructor for their children.”
The Wildflower School in Nelson currently has 87 students enrolled in four classes, one of which is a middle-school class and the remainder are elementary classes.
“This program appeals to certain students and their families, it doesn’t appeal to all. And what we do know is that ultimately, no matter what program we have in the district, all programs are obligated to support students in meeting the learning outcomes ad they’ve been identified,” said Jones.
During Tuesday’s board meeting, Jones said the program won’t have much affect on other schools in the district as the majority of interest comes from families who are homeschooling.
“In a time in the province of British Columbia where we’re really focusing on personalizing learning opportunities for students, the Wildflower program works very intentionally to personalize the learning opportunities that our students have… this is simply a different way to get these students to that goal.”
Jones said the addition of the two new Wildflower classes won’t add any more cost to the district than it would in any other school.
“No matter what school students go to, we receive a per-pupil allocation to support those students.”
“Now that we have the approval from the board, we will begin our process and each of those two new classes will open for the September 2012/2013 school year,” he said.
Jones said regardless of the program students are enrolled in, the main concern of the school district is to ensure that each student’s needs are being met.
“I’m very interested in working with the board to ensure that the needs of our community and our students are being met. And I recognize that we live in times where generationally people are looking for choices and are looking for viable alternatives,” said Jones.
“My main interest is ensuring that every student who comes to us has the best opportunity we can give to educate them, this provides another way we can do that.”