A private school education for free!?!

16 05 2017

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Seems a bit too good to be true, right? Small classes, interdisciplinary projects, experiential learning, supportive individualized mentoring, community engagement, and social and environmental consciousness. Free? Yes, it’s true, and available right here on the peninsula! Our community is fortunate enough to be the home to BPDS, an incredible K-12 UNESCO school that offers many of the features of a private school, for free, and it’s the default option if you live in Northern Bruce. Yes, it’s not perfectly free, because we pay taxes, but at least it won’t set you back $15,000 a year, as some private school parents pay. Yet it remains a mystery why parents and students are opting out.

I have been involved at BPDS in various capacities – as a volunteer, supply teacher, supply educational assistant, school bus driver, and perhaps most importantly, a student. I was also on the steering committee for the Peninsula Action Committee for Education (PACE) and was involved in a research project that surveyed about 300 community members and 80 former students on their local school experiences. Through these roles, I feel qualified to attest to the high quality of programming at BPDS.

I was fortunate enough to attend a private, nonprofit university after graduating from BPDS. Many of my peers attended private high schools and prestigious international schools, so naturally, I worried that my small-town education might come up short. However, I was relieved to find out that I was sufficiently prepared and even excelled in many of my classes. Small classes, interdisciplinary and experiential learning opportunities, supportive teacher mentors and the wide range of volunteer opportunities equipped me with the work ethic and skills to succeed at university. And thanks to Mr. Rodgers, I was more comfortable using Excel than many of my peers!

So of course, no school is perfect and certainly no high school experience is clear sailing, however continue to support our local school, not only because the school plays an important role in the vitality of the community, but also because it is a good school that offers unparalleled opportunities. The grass will always seem greener elsewhere, but I would encourage students and parents on the peninsula to take a moment to recognize just how green the grass is here.

This letter was published in Issue #6 (May 16 – May 30, 2017) of the Bruce Peninsula Press

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