On Thursday, June 10th the Calgary Science School hosted a number of special guests to our school. Dr. Dennis Sumara, the recently appointed Dean of Education from the University of Calgary, and Dr. Sharon Friesen, Associate Dean, were invited to CSS to experience the culture of our school first-hand. Also participating in the school visit were Dr. Garry Andrews, (Executive Director of the Alberta Charter Schools Association) Dr. Robert St. Onge, (Director at Alberta Learning), Dr. Bonnie Shapiro (Professor of Science Education) and Joanne Steinmann, (Alberta Initiative for School Improvement, University of Calgary) as well as members of the CSS Board of Directors and leadership team.
The purpose of the visit was to initiate discussion in support of a closer partnership between the Calgary Science School and Faculty of Education at the University of Calgary. Over the 10 years of the school, we have established a significant number of connections with the University through hosting student teachers (CSS teachers hosts anywhere from 8-12 student teachers a year) and participating in research studies (this year there are 7 academic research studies being conducted at CSS). However, while these connections are already in place and CSS is well known by the Faculty of Education, the intention of this visit was to explore the possibilities of an even closer relation where CSS would become a partner or lab school for the Faculty.
The visit was started with two groups of grade 8 students sharing their most recent inquiry-project around redesigning schools for the 21st Century. Both sets of students did a fantastic job of sharing their learning, and represented the school in a professional way. The Dean commented a number of times on the quality and depth of the student presentations. The rest of the visit centered around sharing snapshots of our school’s history, vision and examples of classroom projects and student learning.
Overall, the visit was very well received. In fact, the Dean subsequently wrote an opinion piece for the Calgary Herald in response to a recent Alberta Education Report entitled “Inspiring Education.” In writing this response, the Dean made specific mention of the strength of learning that occurs at the Calgary Science School, and highlighted the clear connection between our school’s vision and the direction of teaching and learning in the province.
In terms of the potential partnership with the University, we should know more details in the Fall.