How will the classes be divided each year? Every year we will have a different amount of students in each grade level. And within that, each student has a different set of needs and abilities that we take into consideration when making our classes. For these reasons, we normally wait to make any decisions on how the classes will be divided until we have a good idea of whom we will have enrolled, typically in the summer. It is safe to assume that each class will be multigrade, having 2 or 3 consecutive grades in a class. This enables a wide range of learning benefits for each child and it accommodates the learning styles and needs of each student. For example, your grade 1 child might be in a grade Primary, One, Two, or a One, Two, Three. 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? As owners and teachers, we (Adele & Meghan) may be teaching your child. You can learn more about us here. Our employed teachers, who may also be teaching your child, 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 a school together. All teachers at Via Vita Academy will hold, at minimum, a Bachelor of Education degree with specialized training in a field of study in educating children. They will undergo training in the philosophies, teaching styles, and policies of Via Vita Academy prior to working with our families and students. New teachers that come to work at Via Vita Academy will undergo a similar process as our families do to become part of our school. As teachers are hired, a profile will be placed on the website and information will be sent out to enrolled families introducing our new staff member(s), welcoming them as part of our school.
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. We strive to remain transparent with our families and provide clear, honest information in regards to programs, policies, fees, and plans for the future. We're building this school because we want to teach in a way that we whole-heartedly believe in and we believe families need a school to care, to support, and to work together. As part of our mission, we are a school first and foremost.
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 for personal reasons, 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 our own 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. Our priority is to cater education and strengthen individuality, building life and interpersonal skills, so that our students are prepared for what lies ahead.
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. 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 and CPR, 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 content or 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 relationship we have with them, but we are not affiliated with any church from an educational standpoint.
Do you give homework? Yes and no. We are in constant communication with parents, to ensure we're all on the same board Homework appears in many forms, but will always include something the child can do independently and something that is expected to be done with the support of a family member. Homework serves many purposes, one of which is to provide independent practice or time to think for the student. Another purpose is to provide an opportunity to bring the family together, talk about activities connected to school, and aid in the learning process. We communicate often to maintain a strong connection between home and school. We believe that homework can be a helpful tool to maintain the lines of communication and connection.
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 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 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 cater the learning environment to the needs to each student, while facilitating them to learn a wide range of skills that will greatly prepare 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 and tailored program.
What kind of life skills do you teach? Grit Why are you teaching life skills as part of the curriculum? Life skills, like money management, responsible use of technology, food nutrition, growth, and preparation, first aid, conflict resolution, empathy, and basic construction and repairs are not regularly taught in schools, and if so, 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, and making stable a life require a wide range of skills such as these. We believe that they are just as important, if not just as connected, to learning and practicing literacy and mathematics. They have an integral role in building a successful, happy, and healthy life. Our life skills curriculum will grow throughout the year, with the needs and interests of our current students, but will always play a significant role in our educational program, as with all of our subjects, including arts, physical activity, language, math, and theme.
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 school so that we can know each and every student, and their family. By maintaining this mission, we can 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. Students build a strong sense of self-confidence, strong relationships with their peers, and can feel safe to take on challenges and bust out of their comfort zone.
Will you take field trips? Yes. We will take many field trips. 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.
$7000 is a lot of money. How am I going to afford it? $7000 is a lot of money. There's no denying it. Although being one of the lowest tuition costs in the province, we do understand the struggle to pay the upfront cost for your child's education. Our tuition is broken into upfront deposit payment and then the rest split up among 10 months. If you break it down, our tuition fees work out to approximately $35 per day, which is relative to most day care fees in the area. We will aim to keep our tuition fees in this range each year.
What separates you from other private/independent schools? Our mission as an independent school in Lower Sackville, operated and owned by teachers, is to provide an education that has:
Integrated daily physical, arts, and life skills education;
Enhanced inquiry-based theme curriculum in a student-centered and hands-on learning environment;
A small, family-focused school dedicated to low student-teacher ratios.
We will strive, each year, to hold ourselves to these values. We know that remaining small and family focused, with a keen interest in learning and teaching, is key to being able to offer these programs and learning opportunities. We feel we've combined the benefits of public schooling, private schooling, homeschooling, and unschooling to provide the best possible educational environment.
Do you wear uniforms? Yes. We wear comfortable tops with the school logo and bottoms of choice. Tops are a dark grey/black, with a light blue or green t-shirt. 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. We also encourage sharing gently used uniforms among Via Vita families to ensure each family is equipped and no uniform goes to waste!
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! As both the operators and educators of your child's school, we feel it is imperative to know your goals and expectations as we prepare for each school year. 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. We take this as an opportunity to get to know you as much as we can to ensure we can best accommodate you and your child as you seek the best educational option for your child.
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