Finding Hope - by a Blue Sky parent

Blue Sky School has a few spots open for new learners entering grades five to nine in September 2019. Located in Kanata, Blue Sky is Canada's first full-time school designed as an innovation centre and entrepreneurial incubator for youth.

You might think to yourself, "Interesting, but not relevant to my family."

...In June 2017, in less than 48 hours, we went from not giving the school a second thought to seriously
considering Blue Sky. My 14 year old is now nearing the end of her second year with the school.

What led us to choose to enroll our daughter in Blue Sky School?

In June 2017, we weren't planning to make any changes. The grade six public school year had gone
pretty much as expected.

Every few years, we paid for an updated psycho-educational assessment that stated our daughter was
gifted and clearly needed enrichment. However, she just missed the cut off to be placed in the school
board's gifted program.

Each year was the same story. Meetings with the resource team to discuss the IPRC and Individual
Education Plan, meetings with the teachers, meetings with the doctors to discuss her increasingly
worsening mental health... And a lot of tears. Too many tears.

Our daughter liked her teachers and got along with them, but didn't enjoy school. As of grade six, she
spent much of the year in the hallway or in her teachers' offices.

Her teachers were tired. We would meet, they would tell me she was brilliant and that when they spoke
to her they could tell she knew the classroom material. Reading between the lines, I understood they
were stuck. They didn't have the time or resources to provide her with enrichment, and their resource
team was spread thin trying to help the students who were struggling to understand. There just wasn't
any energy left for the students who were struggling because they already understood and were bored.

My daughter already knew what was being taught on the first days and in the first minutes. And then
she was stuck having to sit there and stagnate for the remainder of her time. Looking back, I feel regret
that we didn't pull her out of the public school system* sooner.

But if we had, would our path have led to Blue Sky?

June 2017, the mail arrived. I opened the envelope and looked at her report card. I read through the
grades first. As and Bs. I wasn't surprised.

Then I read the comments. In a nutshell, she had completed little school work that year and her teachers
had given her grades based on what they knew was in her head.

Was this approach right? I can't really say; I understand why it happened.

Was this approach setting my daughter up for success in adulthood? ...What would you say?

Frustration kicked in. Something had to change. I couldn't stand the thought of my kid believing that this
was all school was. I couldn't stand the thought of her continuing down this path for six more years of
public school. I wanted her to at least consider that maybe an alternative high school like Canterbury
High School was worth looking at.

People talk about fate... I had noticed an article about Blue Sky School a few months before. And then
a sponsored ad for an Info Night popped up on my Facebook the same day I got the report card.

The next night, I hauled her to the Info Night. Literally. I knew she would refuse to go if I told her about
it ahead of time, so I got her in the car, started driving, and then told her where we were going.

Truthfully, I had zero intention of actually enrolling her at Blue Sky. It was a "private" school. We were a
blue collar family. We couldn't afford it. The sole reason I took her was because I wanted to shake her
awake. I just wanted my daughter to see that school could be different from what she had experienced
for these long eight years of junior kindergarten through to grade six.

She saw.

I walked into that Info Session with a child who had lost her spark.

I walked out of that room with a child who was bouncing with hope.

Now, she can learn at her own pace and keep going and going and going. Now, she doesn't have to sit
idle. Now, she's learning Russian in addition to English and French because she wants to learn the ten
hardest languages in the world. Now, she spends one school day each week volunteering working with
and learning about reptiles. Now, she laughs and smiles a lot. Now, she not only likes her teachers;
she likes school.

*we have also had children in the Catholic school system.


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