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Becoming the Director of Pacific Spirit School
Child Honouring

“In a society where we are expected to enrol our children in schools with class sizes of 30 or more, Pacific Spirit is a welcome alternative. We will not take more than 14 children per class. However, the benefits of this school go beyond the small class size. The central philosophy of the school is one of “child honouring”. What does this mean? You may ask. It means that each child who enrols in the school is honoured for who they are as a person – their strengths and areas of challenge are accepted and respected. Educators and fellow classmates honour each other and children are supported to work through differences in a respectful way.”

My name is Ingrid Price, and I have the honour of calling myself the Director of Pacific Spirit School. My love for and commitment to this school started just over 6 years ago when my husband and I enrolled our son’s in the school: Evan into grade 4 and Reid into kindergarten. My boys have now moved onto public school, and with them they carry the strength of self that this wonderful learning environment affords them.

I became the Director of this school because I have seen the evidence of its positive effect on children and their families time and time again and I am committed to ensuring that this school is available for years to come. I do not know one child who has not benefitted from attending Pacific Spirit, and for many, the longer they attend the better. In a society where we are expected to enrol our children in schools with class sizes of 30 or more, Pacific Spirit is a welcome alternative. We will not take more than 14 children per class. However, the benefits of this school go beyond the small class size. The central philosophy of the school is one of “child honouring”. What does this mean? You may ask. It means that each child who enrols in the school is honoured for who they are as a person – their strengths and areas of challenge are accepted and respected. Educators and fellow classmates honour each other and children are supported to work through differences in a respectful way. Our small class size affords us this luxury, however we also have caring educators who are able to support the children in developing their interpersonal skills.

One of the questions that I have heard asked many times is how children integrate into the public school system after their time at Pacific Spirit. I would like to answer that question based on academics but also based on the character development that occurs at this school.

My youngest son, Reid, started Late French Immersion this year (grade 6). Reid attended Pacific Spirit for 6 years (kindergarten through grade 5). My older son, Evan attended for three years (grades 4 through 6). Evan is now in grade 10 in public school. Both of my kids were fine academically when they transitioned into public school – they did find the transition challenging due to the different environments (the size as well as the limited connection with the educators), but their academic level was pretty much where it should be. I know several other past parents (or current parents who have children that went through Pacific Spirit) whose children had the same experience, so this is not unique to my children.

Having said this, I do feel as though Pacific Spirit School is a bit of a long term commitment because of its child honouring philosophy that is so important to the school and I would not want to change. Child honouring, however, also means that the educators respect the child’s readiness to a certain extent in terms of when they are ready to read and write, for example. It has been my experience that if a child stays in the school until grade 4 or 5, they will be reading, writing and doing math pretty much at grade level. However, if you were to assess a child at any point in time between kindergarten and grade 5, they may not be right at grade level with their skills. I can think of a number of children I have known from the school who have not wanted to read early on but once they are ready, they build their skills very rapidly.

So, in terms of academics, kids that are a product of Pacific Spirit School look pretty much the same as other children. The area where they shine, however, is their character and sense of self/other. I kept my kids in Pacific Spirit School largely for this, and I would like to explain not only what this looks like now that they are a bit older, but how it benefits them in the long run. My kids both are very grounded individuals, I believe largely because of what they learned at Pacific Spirit – they know their strengths, weaknesses and challenges and can communicate those not only to other children but adults. They both have no problem speaking to adults in a respectful way about their needs and advocating for themselves. Their self-awareness really impresses some of their public school teachers, which is pretty awesome. They are also wonderful at working with others and helping others work through interpersonal issues. This is true of their same aged peers, but also working with younger children. Through their time at Pacific Spirit they were supported and encouraged to mentor and work with younger children. This is another wonderful part of the culture of the school. Both my boys are able to empathize and respect what it is like to be younger or possibly less skilled or simply different. Basically, they are able to honour themselves and others. I always felt that if they had this aspect to their character, they would be just fine in our society. The other thing that both my kids have is an interest in and respect for learning – they don’t love it (well it depends on what it is they are learning and if they realize they are learning), but they take it very seriously I believe because they have been supported as learners at Pacific Spirit. I know this must sound pretty corny – and I guess it is a bit – they are not perfect kids, but they are pretty great people and I really do believe it was because they were honoured and respected for who they are as people and learners for several years at Pacific Spirit.

My goal as director is to support the educators and families to create a learning environment and experience that serves each child and family in our community. This is such a special place and I feel blessed to call myself not only a past-parent but also a Director of the school.

Sincerely,
Ingrid Price, PhD.
Executive Director of Pacific Spirit School