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Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School Continues to Flourish after 50 Years

Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School Continues to Flourish after 50 Years

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Photo by Riverwood Photography.

After offering 50 years of outstanding education, Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School (STS) is looking back at the foundation of excellence and character on which it was built, while looking forward at the ever-changing world to ensure it is cultivating thought leaders and good citizens who will thrive and contribute to bettering the world as adults.
STS has always balanced high academic standards with enrichment activities and a focus on citizenship to produce well-rounded graduates ready for post-secondary and beyond. There is a culture of service nurtured at every age through unique experiences like the Social Agencies program and student conferences and exchanges as part of the Round Square organization. Students steer their charitable giving with time and community engagement ranging from food, toy and clothing drives to service trips to other countries. It has long been an important component of the learning and character development which are priorities at the school.

While Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School honours its traditions focused on character development and academic rigour, it boasts a progressive curriculum that sets out to meet the needs and interests of students as it offers a wide range of academic and co-curricular options.

“We are committed to ensuring that our programs remain relevant and that we’re meeting the needs of not only yesterday’s students, but also today’s students and into the future,” says Carol Grant-Watt, head of school for Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School.

The STS student of tomorrow will discover a full gamut of programming offered on the unique 220-acre campus located south of Calgary. On top of being the first full International Baccalaureate (IB) World School and the only independent school to offer IB from kindergarten through grade 12 in Alberta, STS also offers 90 co-curricular programs to round out the students’ education. The campus itself acts as an additional teacher for students. The school uses its beautiful natural environment to enrich programming, from the observatory on campus to ecological studies, kayaking and overnight outdoor education camping experiences at the school, encouraging students to stay connected to the land.

One co-curricular program popular with students is the design program, which doubles in enrollment every year. This innovative offering introduces a multitude of modalities, exposing students to artificial intelligence, robotics and product design instruction that promotes designing for purpose and social good rather than for the sake of consumption and capitalism.

The school also has an incredible fine arts department that gives students the opportunity to explore their creativity and discover their passions. It has robust visual arts, music, theatre and musical theatre programs complete with a beautiful 750-seat theatre for performances.

“Students can engage in areas of passion in a way that also builds academic rigour. Our fine arts programs are challenging and we send students into fine arts disciplines in post-secondary every year but they’re also a place where students can develop identity, collaborate, be creative and have fun in a lot of different disciplines,” says Brianna Dawe, director of fine arts for STS.

Experiences bring curriculum to life, and whether students are embroiled in core course content or non-core options, STS strives to make content engaging and connected to students. Through strategic partnerships, the school involves students in innovative programming that supplements their academic portfolio and exposes them to a variety of different areas of interest.

“Our programs are grounded in good pedagogy. They’re grounded in what makes sense for kids. They’re grounded in real-world experiences. And while we strive to be leaders in education, we also focus on being good partners with other schools. At the end of the day, we all want the best for kids,” says Grant-Watt.

As a leader, Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School is dedicated to creating an environment that promotes engagement, critical thinking, reflection, creativity and leadership through curriculum as well as outside classroom experiences. The school values curiosity and creativity to learn and solve problems, and kindness, respect and pluralism as ways to achieve a sense of belonging within its walls. Through humility students open themselves to growth, joy to celebrate successes, excellence as the outcome of doing their best, and resiliency to endure hardship and become stronger because of it. These values are all encompassed in the school’s new mission statement prepared as part of the 10-year strategic plan they are calling “Flourish.” The mission is for “a diverse community where students pursue lives of purpose and flourish emotionally, physically and intellectually.” The teachers and counsellors support the students, guiding them in their academic and personal lives throughout their time at the school to allow them to flourish.

“We have absolutely ordinary human beings here who are doing extraordinary things,” Grant-Watt says. “We create a sense of belonging where you can be your authentic self and have trusted adults in partnership with parents to help students succeed.”

Robust learning strategist programs help students with different academic needs while smaller classroom sizes and ample prep time allow teachers to better connect with students. The administration also strives to make Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School as financially accessible as possible to any student for whom the STS framework would be a fit, removing barriers to entry by offering the opportunity to attend through financial assistance.

To better serve the diverse student body, teachers can personalize teachings through progressive programming and teaching strategies to ensure the best outcomes for each student. The goal is not to achieve perfection, but rather for students to try their best in all they do to achieve a great result. The school motto – Nil Nisi Optimum – means ‘nothing but our best’ and it is a living model that resonates and motivates STS students.
“The diversity of our population would surprise a lot of people,” says Alanna Wellwood, director of learning innovation at STS. “It’s not just one academic program that’s homogenous or uniform, and it’s the extent to which we’re preparing them for the gig economy. We’re really trying to be innovative and progressive with our programming and particularly in the Alberta landscape, that’s mission critical to economic diversification and we’re trying to do our part.”

Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School is doing its part to nurture young people through exceptional school experiences, innovative programming and the work of dedicated teachers so that these students can become the leaders of tomorrow. They have more than 10,000 alumni around the world living lives of purpose as a testament to this – what an incredible legacy to celebrate on their 50th anniversary.

306 Ave. West & 32 St. West Okotoks, Alberta Canada T1S 1A2
403.938.4431 • www.strathconatweedsmuir.com

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