How will the classes be divided each year? Every year, our groupings may change a bit depending on the amount of students we have enrolled in each grade and the different needs, abilities, and personalities in the group. We take into consideration all of these factors when making our classes. It is safe to assume that each class will be multigrade, having 2 or 3 consecutive grades in a class. For example, your grade one child might be in a grade Primary/One or a One/Two/Three, etc.. It really depends on the enrolment each year. A key ingredient that makes this environment beneficial is that there will be, on average, 10 students in a class. 10 students! Oh the learning potential!
How many students will there really be in my child's class? At most,15. But honestly, we try to keep classes at an average of 10 students. Our budget is structured to keep class sizes close to this size and from our experience; it offers the best range of activities and learning opportunities for students. The owners of the school also teach in the school, so we will always stay true to our word - we're living it every day! Our favourite teaching environment is between 10-12 students.
Who will teach my child? Our team of amazing staff will be teaching your child. You can learn more about us here. Our employed teachers are carefully selected to join our staff and make a positive difference in the lives of our students. We seek out teachers who are passionate about education and open to continual learning, both from a professional development standpoint and from the rewards and lessons we receive from working with children and families. We invest in our teachers, hoping to grow and build our school together. All teachers at Via Vita Academy have specialized training in the field of study that they teach, as well as passion for their interests, are strong role models, and work together as a team. They undergo a rigorous interview experience when joining the school, interviewed by a committee of parents and teachers, and also come in to teach so the students can get to know them, as well, before they are hired. They are also trained in the philosophies, teaching styles, and policies of Via Vita Academy prior to working with our families and students.
What does my tuition payments pay for? Honestly, we wish we could offer this schooling opportunity to your child for free. We believe every child should have such an opportunity to grow in a school dedicated to their learning. However, tuition is the main way this school can be funded to purchase supplies, pay facility fees, employ teachers, and other operating costs. Tuition payments simply go back to the school to keep it operating, growing, and sustaining the best possible programs it can. The school is owned and operated by teachers who have a passion for education and a drive for managing a school. Transparency is at our core value with our families. We continuously dedicate ourselves to providing clear, honest information in regards to programs, policies, fees, and plans for the future. Our financials are open book with all VVA families, so at any time, a VVA family may offer insight or gain understanding of how and where the funds are being used.
What if it's not the right fit once we begin the year? We work closely with each family to ensure we are providing the education that fits with each child's needs, abilities, and interests. We follow a careful plan with each student and their family to maintain communication and ensure we are working with everyone's goals in mind. In the situation where we are not able to provide a program that works for your child or family needs, or you need to withdrawal, we, of course, will be very sad to see you go. Assuming all payments up to that point are made on time, we will provide all necessary documentation and reports needed on your end. Financially, we request a 4 month notice, after which point, remaining payments will be refunded to you. The deposit to enrol is non-refundable.
Why don't you offer high school? High school is a time to practise strong independence skills, implement leadership and teamwork qualities, discover new friendships, build lifelong connections, embrace the diversity of our world, and find a place for individuality to grow and prosper. We believe our school prepares students for this great step in life, ensuring they are secure in knowing who they are, how they learn, and where they'd like their path to lead, however a small school like ours isn't designed to match the various course offerings currently available for high school students locally. Our priority is to create an education that strengthens individuality, building life and interpersonal skills, so that our students are prepared for what lies ahead and ready to take the next step into a bigger high school, navigating all of life's ups, downs, pressures, challenges and joys. Our grade nines experience a wide amount of responsibilities and experiences that prepare them for the next step on their own.
How can you ensure my child's safety during the day? Our school space is inside Faith Baptist church. We have access to the entire facility during the school day, which enables us to teach the way we do and offer the programming we do. Only church officials and school staff have keys to the facility, as the doors remain locked during the day. The building is closely monitored at all times during the day, with a staff member always available. Visitors to the school must notify us ahead of time, and all volunteers are monitored and supervised while within our school. We also have a safe place to go, on property, from either exit, in case of fire or emergency. Contact and first aid kits are mobile and accessible at all times. All staff are certified in First Aid, CPR, and Mental Health First Aid, and have criminal records checks and child abuse registry checks performed prior to working with our students. Safety is one of our top priorities to ensure a welcoming and engaging learning environment.
Are you affiliated with the church in any way? Educationally, no. We a non-sectarian school, using Nova Scotia Department of Education Curriculum, which has no religious affiliation. We simply rent the space and have grown to love working with the church community as they have shown us a tremendous amount of support. They are very welcoming of our school, our educational philosophies, and our families. We cherish the working relationship we have with them, but we are not affiliated with any church from an educational standpoint.
Do you give homework? Yes, we give assignments that can be worked on at home. In conjunction with assigned work, as students reach upper elementary, every student has access to Study Hall, a free program that is offered an hour before we start school and an hour after we end school, where students are encouraged to come to work on their assignments. Study Hall is operated by our teachers, so there is always a teacher supervising and ready to support any student who seeks help.
We are in constant communication with parents, to ensure we're all on the same page and ensure everyone understands why our students have assignments, with due dates, and why we hold students accountable to them. Being a school that believes in the value of life skills, assignments with due dates is an integral part of the process of developing life skills.
Homework appears in many forms, and depending on the age, will always include something the child can do independently and at times, something to do with some positive support from a family member. Homework serves many purposes. One of which is to provide independent practice or time to think for the student. It is also an opportunity to build independence and self-confidence, seeing themselves accomplish something within a specific time is the foundation for learning to make and meet goals. It is uplifting and something to be proud of. It provides excellent motivation to keep trying - which in turns helps develop that wonderful grit we all need as a life skill to persevere through life's challenges. It also has the opportunity to bring the family together, talk about activities connected to school, and be involved in a positive way within the learning process. We communicate often to maintain a strong connection between home and school. We believe that homework can be a helpful tool in the learning process.
So, you teach inquiry-based themed curriculum. How is this different than what my child is receiving now? As an independent school, we can deliver curriculum in a method and philosophy that we feel best meets the needs of our students. We can adapt with our students, assess based on our students, and facilitate learning based on our students. Our philosophies to deliver, engage, and assess curricula are built to provide a successful learning experience for each student, so as to celebrate their differences. Inquiry-based themed curriculum adapts each year with students, and will challenge a child, no matter the grade. By posing questions and encouraging students to pose their own questions and seek out answers, the delivery of curriculum focuses on the process of finding out rather than the simply giving students information to remember. The process is tailored to bring out their strengths and engages them to work with others, build up their own learning needs, and develop concrete understanding of real-life concepts. It allows students to build teamwork, leadership, and interpersonal skills as they work with others, learning to respect each other's strengths, challenges, and needs. It also provides many opportunities to learn hands-on life skills. By teaching and learning in this way, we are able to better support multiple learning styles and create a positive learning environment where challenges become building blocks for success, preparing them for the ever-changing future ahead of them. These methods, as well as our students, thrive in a small school setting. Without our small classes and small school, committed families, and dedicated teachers, we would not be able to offer such a unique program and style of teaching.
What kind of life skills do you teach? Every year, our life skills are tweaked to be more reflective on the world our students are growing up in. We have and continue to reflect on our teaching and ensure it is relevant and engaging, as well, we ensure our staff are skills, passionate, and strong in leading these skills. Life skills range through a variety of topics, including and not limited to:
Traditions in Food/Culture Community-Based Cooking Fall Gardening Mentorship Self-Confidence Conflict Resolution Nutrition Cleaning Empathy & Compassion Positive Leadership Basic First Aid Personal Hygiene Local and Global Languages/Cultures Sewing Money & Financial Stability General Repair Winter/Indoor Gardening Preserving Stress management, Perseverance , Grit Public Speaking Study Skills Mental Health & Wellness Online Safety Building & Constructing Time Management Volunteerism Critical Thinking Food Science Risk Assessment / Responsibilities Composting Sustainability Technology Management & Maintenance Technology Usage & Life Balance Global Issues & Change Over Time
Why are you teaching life skills as part of the curriculum? Life skills are not regularly taught in schools, and if they are, they are taught at different stages with varying detail, possibly creating an unclear view of the realities of actually needing these skills. Experiences such as starting new jobs, taking out student loans, buying homes, finding a work/life balance, leading and working with others, leading a sustainable lifestyle, and finding joy in life require a wide range of skills that are not easily taught in basic academic subjects. However, we believe that they are just as important, if not just as connected or more important, to learning and growing. They have an integral role in building a successful, happy, and healthy life.
What other skills do they learn, besides the regular curriculum? Our students have a variety of subjects in their weekly schedule. 50% of each day is dedicated to a variety of skill including Music, Visual Art, Theatre, Health & Wellness, Language & Culture, Leadership, Outdoor Education, Fitness, Sports, Yoga, Dance, and Peer Buddies. Beyond the life skills mentioned above, some other topics we include, but are not limited to:
Arts: Visual Art: Landscapes, Real Life, 3D, Perspective, Sketching, Pastels, Paints, Colours, Clay, Charcoal, Abstract, Still Life, Portraits, Photography, Prop Design & Costume Design Theatre: Poetry, Lyrics, Improvisation, Stage Presence, Tableaux/Mime, Story to Stage, Folklore, Videography, Acting, Spoken Word, Script Writing, Genre, Theme, Style, Expression, Morale, Monologue work Music: Rhythm, Beat, Meter, Tone, Music Theory, Instruments, Music Roots, Dance, Choreography, Musicals, Song Writing
How will you cater education to my child when you have other children to teach, as well? Small classes, small school. There's a lot to be said, and done, when there is a small student body. We strive to remain a small school so that we can know each and every student, and their family. By maintaining this mission, we create the best care and education for each child, knowing what they need and when they need it. We will know when there's a good day and a bad, when to push and when just to nudge, when to challenge and when to explore. As a small group of students and teachers, students feel respected and can trust themselves, and their teachers, so they can take risks to try new things and grow their perspective. They hear their voice being heard and instil value within themselves, developing a strong sense of connection with others and self confidence.
Do you offer French Immersion? We do not offer French Immersion at our school, however every student in the school has within their weekly rotation of life skill classes a Language & Culture class. Our Language & Culture class starts with conversational French in our youngest grades, and then moves into local cultures & languages including Gaelic & Mi’kmaq by middle elementary, and then builds towards an appreciation for our nations diverse cultures and languages by upper elementary, and then globally diving into cultural and linguistic history, geography, and human rights in junior high. We believe these building blocks are integral to teaching students to grow up respecting and understanding languages at a deeper level, recognizing the value of diversity.
Do you take field trips? Yes. We take many field trips. Sometimes as a whole school, sometimes as a class. Field trips provide hands-on experience and successfully help to build a concrete understanding.. They contribute to an enhanced learning experience and can provide an excellent springboard for further discussion and learning activities. Field trips can be anything from visiting the grocery store to touring a museum, or even simply going for a hike. Each offers its own unique learning experience!
What separates you from other private/independent schools? Our approach to teaching and learning, the size of our school and classes, and our vision separates us from other private/independent schools. Our vision, a culture empowered by community, compassion and wonder, is at the heart of everything we do, everyday. It is the reason we dive in academics as much as we dive into personal development. It is the reason we remain small and family focused. It is the reason we integrate physical activity, arts, and life skills into everyday, why inquiry is valued, and why the process of learning is at the forefront of our mission.
Do you wear uniforms? Yes. We wear comfortable tops with the school logo and bottoms of choice. Tops are style of choice, but are grey, black, blue or green in colour - the school colours. Simple, easy to clean, and easy to move around in. It's important to remember that students may be running in the gym, painting at a desk, reading on the couch, building a bridge, acting on stage, gardening outside, and cooking up a delicious snack in the kitchen - all in one day. We wear uniforms to, hopefully, make choosing an outfit in the morning easy, to keep safe as an identifiable group, and to build a unified feeling of being apart of something special. Uniforms are expected to be worn every day, with the exception of special casual/costume days or performances requiring costumes.
Why is the application so lengthy and detailed? Our application is indeed lengthy and detailed. But we'd really like to know you, and your child, so we can best prepare to teach and work with you! It is imperative for us to know your goals and expectations as to ensure we are the right school for you, and that we can meet your needs and goals. With the information you provide in the application, we will ensure that we have all the resources and plans needed to build a successful educational experience.