Brand new curriculum, brand new principal.
“It took a little bit of thinking. Those are big shoes to fill, and it’s a large portfolio,” Malloff told the Star. “It’s exciting to be on the cusp of something new, and it’s interesting because our school motto, in gradibus exploratorium, actually translates to ‘on the steps of exploration.’”
So what does that mean?
“It means we’re moving away from gymnasiums full of students writing final exams and towards more classroom-based assessment.”
And what exactly that will look like is in flux, with next year slated to be a transition year.
“We’re having conversations with staff and giving them the opportunity to try something new and different. In some cases it will be a robust examination they end up doing, but it could also be something else.”
One part of the high school experience that’s getting revamped is career education.
“A lot of students have been taking two courses that they need for graduation, Planning 10 and Grad Transitions, but the year after next it will be called the new Grad Years program which is an eight-credit roll up of those courses.”
And it’s not just the school experience that’s changing, it’s the students’ life trajectories too.
“It used to be you graduate, get a job, get married. That was the normal trajectory. Now what we’re looking at is ‘I might take a gap year, I might travel, I might work, I could do college before I go to university or maybe I’ll go to technical college.’”
She wants to prepare students for that reality.
“We need to prepare them to adapt in the moment, and give them a sense of what their skill set is and how to translate it into work.”
Malloff feels well-positioned to lead this transition, after spending years at Mount Sentinel as teacher-librarian tech, where she ran projects across schools and districts. She ran online literacy projects and even worked on a Minecraft-esque initiative that saw students meet and work together as avatars.
Malloff worked as vice principal at Trafalgar before taking on a role with innovative learning services at the district office for a year. She started as vice principal of L.V. Rogers in January.
“I’ve worked with all the schools, visited almost every single one, and being in the district office gave me that bigger perspective. But I love being in a school now. You see what’s happening on the ground, you have your finger on the pulse and you’re part of this beautiful ecosystem.”
She thrives in that environment.
“Any way I can support the staff to find a niche in the new curriculum, I’m going to do that. I want to support the teachers in visioning, I want to facilitate anything the students want to do as well.”
She hopes more students come forward with projects such as their first annual sustainability symposium, organized this year by Grade 12 student Hannah Sachs.
“Increasingly in the new curriculum we’re going to see students becoming leaders of their own learning. We want to see them gain ownership and independence, so how can teachers play a part in that?”
She also wants to make sure L.V. Rogers celebrates student diversity.
“We have students who excel in trades, others who love cafeteria or who are really into the digital media arts. Others are grounded in the academic.
“But we’re going to widen that span. We have students with fantastic skill sets and capabilities, so my question is how can we embrace and support that?”
Which means she plans to put her “networker’s mindset” to work.
“I like being out and about, seeing what’s going on so I’m visible and present — this isn’t an office job, it’s one where you roll up your sleeves and get out there.”
She’s ready to do that.
“This is a very exciting time to be in education. There are some uncertainties but I think where we’re moving is going to open a lot of doors. My job is to facilitate and support that anyway I can.”