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Davis Bay Elementary grows naturally

ColumnHead-DaveMewhortOn April 16, the Board of Education passed a motion authorizing the Superintendent to return Davis Bay Elementary to a ‘Kindergarten to Grade Seven’ school.

For three years Davis Bay has been a ‘Kindergarten to Grade Five’ school and has been doing a fantastic job. The Spider, or home-school support, program has helped fill the school space and has recently exploded in popularity. The 71 ‘spiderlings’, as Davis Bay Principal Sally Thicke lovingly refers to them, have become an integral part of the school.

Every Thursday, many of the 71 ‘spiderlings’ gather at Davis Bay Elementary and participate in a variety of activities. They make use of the library and gym, have program activities and get a chance to socialize with other kids in the program. Parents also benefit from the Thursday get-together, as they have a chance to network and share resources. The kids meet with their teacher consultants regularly but Thursdays offer a great opportunity to get up to date. Some kids also make use of the school on Tuesdays and participate in a variety of activities.

A recent announcement that Davis Bay Elementary will be offering a Nature Primary Program has also met with loads of parental enthusiasm. This initiative is modeled after ‘Forest Schools’ and is education in, and with, nature. The program features many key learning elements. One important component is that learning is to be inquiry-based, project-based and problem-based, while also being experiential. Another element is that learning will be place-based; in other words, in and about nature. Learning will be guided by curiosity and creativity. Service Learning will also play a major role. Students will be engaged in community service that is integrated with learning objectives based on real world situations in our community.

Also important is that the children will be growing green hearts and green minds. They will learn in nature, grow appreciation of the natural world, and develop an understanding of environmental sustainability and stewardship.

The Primary Nature School has also drawn more than just local interest. An SFU PhD candidate has received approval both locally and from the university to conduct a research project, A Study of Place-Based Ecological Schooling. The candidate and her research team plan on contributing to, and learning from, the school. It’s no wonder that the Primary Nature School program was fully enrolled shortly after its announcement, with a substantial waiting list. Applications came in from Langdale to Madeira Park.

Add all this to Davis Bay Elementary’s craft club, dance club, athletic program, community garden and an incredibly supportive PAC and you have what Principal Thicke describes as “a school where the outdoors are in”.

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