Red Deer to soon see opening of first private school

  • Apr. 13, 2016 2:52 p.m.

Red Deerians will soon have access to a private school education for their children through First Steps & Beyond Inc.

First Steps & Beyond recently completed the registration process with Alberta Education, successfully completing applications and interviews. Now the organization is simply waiting on the official seal of approval by the minister of education.

Owner Lynne Harris said she is extremely happy to be able to announce this new achievement.

“What this means for First Steps is in the fall, we will be able to offer Grades 1, 2 and 3. Until now, we have offered pre-school, pre-k and our enhanced Kindergarten program. Until we were registered with Alberta Education, we couldn’t add grade levels in but now that’s a possibility,” Harris said.

She explained that since inception, First Steps & Beyond had plans to expand into a private education school and this shift will allow the staff to create a high quality education experience for the children who attend.

“As an educator for over 30 years, I believe that schools are not always meeting the individual needs of our children,” Harris began.

“I think there needs to be a stronger focus on academics than what is currently being carried out in a lot of schools. I think there are far too many students graduating from Grade 12 that are barely literate. A lot of them cannot read fluently, they lack basic writing skills, basic math skills and they lack knowledge of how to apply those skills.

“We are going to foster a strong academic focus, with education that is relevant and applicable to life.”

She added the goal of the private school education format is to be able to offer a specialized teaching program, whether students are needing supplemental development or needing additional challenge in their work.

“We have to meet Alberta Ed’s outcomes, but we have taken those outcomes and developed our own curriculums. We are surpassing other content, but will be delivering the same critical outcomes. We will do reading, language, sciences, social studies and have a a bit of a stronger focus on arts. That includes music, vocals, drama and visual arts.”

Currently, Harris and the rest of the staff are building curriculum and preparing for the fall term, where they will have three grade levels – one, two and three, each with classes of 12 students at maximum.

She said with the specialized education programs and small class sizes, she hopes this format of education will cater specifically to the needs of students and build them up for future learning. Registrations for the grade levels are now taking place.

Alberta Education released new standard outcomes and pillars of education last year, and First Steps & Beyond will adhere to those learning standards. In addition to regular class concepts of language and maths, the school will provide a focus on arts, personal development, community outreach and other skill-building programs.

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