In a Fraser Institute paper entitled: Ontario’s Private Schools: Who Chooses Them and Why? the reasons given for why parents choose schools like ours were not surprising - a focus on learning and teaching, high expectations, an ordered environment, collegial collaboration between school and home, and strong leadership. While all of these are still important today, in recent years there has been a realization that globalization and technology are transforming the workplace for today's twentysomething’s, and that students are going to need more than the hard-won prize of a university degree to have a well-paid, fulfilling, and enjoyable career.
All the leading research tells us that the style of education that schools have traditionally offered is less valid if we are to prepare our students for an era where learning will go deeper and be more abstract than ever before. While good marks, strength of character, and a solid system of values will always be vital, employers now also want soft skills such as critical thinking; communications skills; analytical and research skills; computer and technical literacy; flexibility and adaptability; and interpersonal abilities.
With this in mind, in 2013, we took a close look at how HTS could structure an education that ensures our students have the best possible start. The result was our five-year strategic plan, Shaped by Experience. The plan has five themes:
- Student Learning
- Incredible People
- Amazing Spaces for Learning
- Relationships and Reputation
Some of the themes are self explanatory but it could be argued that the first two are the most crucial if we are to be a school that promotes the skills and competencies needed for the 21st century, while enabling every student to discover, realize, and demonstrate his or her true potential, passion, and unique gifts.
At the heart of the first theme is a personalized program for students in which highly skilled faculty plan learning experiences that include multiple instructional strategies and personalized experiences depending on the identified needs of the students. These could include large and small group activities, lectures, online courses, independent study, and experiential programs.
If we are to develop students with the capacity and motivation to identify, understand, interpret, create, and communicate knowledge, we must also make sure they have the best trained and most highly skilled teachers. Our teachers now have the knowledge and skills necessary to place personalized learning and support at the heart of everything we do.
We are providing high-quality professional teacher development so that we continue to offer an experience that is rigorous, rewarding, and enjoyable for our students.
Underpinning the attainment of our vision, and the most visible manifestation of Shaped by Experience, will be the creation of new facilities for the arts, for learning, for health and fitness, and for innovation. We are all excited that we will soon see the completion of Phase 1 of this three-phase project, which will help us to deliver an education that is second to none.
To give parents a thorough understanding of our aims, back in February we held a series of presentations called Leading In Learning. The focus was on Theme 1: Student Learning. I hope you will read more about these developments and the exciting possibilities they give us in the latest edition of Corridors
As we meet our strategic goals, HTS is providing an education that is built on our commitment to academic excellence but also meets the skills and competencies needed for today's students to achieve success in the future. At HTS, we are truly “leading in learning.”