We're a small school with a big spirit
Our families get to know one another, which leads to fun opportunities for our children to deepen their relationships with their friends outside of school.
One of our key differentiators at PSS is our support for attachment parenting and our invitation to parents who want to participate in the classroom when their child needs their support. Many parents are grateful just to be welcome in the classroom with their child for those first 15 minutes at the beginning of each school day as their child eases comfortably into the morning transition from home to school.
All parents sign up for one volunteer job during the year, and we are deeply grateful for their help in the care-taking of our school, from washing the dishes or caring for the gardens to taking charge of Sports Day or filming special events and performances.
“Amy, mother of Alvy (grade 2)
When I drop my daughter off in the morning, I feel the same comfort as I do when I leave her with her grandparents. I know she is deeply loved here.
Our community is shaped by many long-standing traditions, such as:
- Gratitude Tea
- Camping Trip
- Sports Day
- All Saints Day
- Science Fair
- Talent Shows
Weekly gratitude tea
Parents, children and educators gather at 3:30pm each Thursday in our brick room before we leave for our weekends. We sit in a big circle, and we go around the room allowing each person a moment to share one thing for which they are grateful. The mood is a mix of tender and playful. Two families look after the tea and snacks each week, and they are always delicious.
Family camping trip
Just before each year wraps up in June, the PSS families celebrate with a camping trip to Golden Ears Park. A group hike, friendly water fights, a giant outdoor potluck, roasting marshmallows, and campfire songs make it a weekend the kids look forward to all year long.
Many kids at PSS love dressing up and performing, so Halloween is an extra big deal at our school. Parents arrive early to watch the kids parade in their costumes, culminating in a series of rousing dance performances. Thriller and Ghostbusters have made the cut most years (and the kids who are a little shy are still included in creative ways like backstage lighting or just cheering on their friends!).
We gather for potlucks to mark the start of the school year, the winter solstice, the arrival of spring, and the summer solstice. Potlucks are a fun opportunity for parents to connect with each other and with our children’s educators, and children love hosting their parents at school. The atmosphere is relaxed, informal and lively with conversation and laughter.
In mid-May, our school gathers in a big field at Jericho beach a few blocks away. Bring out the potato sacks, it’s Sports Day! The students are divided up into multi-age teams and they laugh their way through three-legged races and balancing acts of egg-on-a-spoon. Parents and children divide up for tug-of-war and capture the flag. A bake sale keeps the troops fueled and raises money for our Tuition Fund.
All Saints Day/ Day of the Dead special tea
On the Thursday closest to Day of the Dead and All Saints’ Day, our community gathers for a special ceremony where children are encouraged to bring a photo of a family member, ancestor or pet who has died, and share a few words about them. We light candles and honour those we have loved and lost.
Each spring, our students host their parents and extended family members at our science fair. All children are encouraged to choose a scientific question that they genuinely feel driven to solve or answer. The children’s level of inquiry, effort and creativity in displaying what they learned consistently blows us away year after year.
A few times throughout the year, PSS students work hard to hone their individual or group talents and share them at a talent show for parents, educators and guests. Favourite performances have included hip hop dance routines, rap songs, photography exhibits, short stories, piano recitals, original songs, Celtic dance routines, and countless hilarious drama skits.
“Tara, mother of Wilfred (grade 3) and Paris (grade 1)
PSS is a safe and happy place. A hidden gem of a school. A modest, joyful and heart-centred community where children and their families are honoured and welcomed with open minds.
Every donation makes a tangible difference
The generosity of families, friends, and grandparents enables us to provide an inspiring and empowering school experience at an affordable price.
Like all independent schools, tuition fees and government grants alone do not cover the cost of a PSS education. Your charitable donation not only bridges this gap, it also plays a vital role in making PSS’ programs so extraordinary. We invite each family in our community to make a donation every year, at a level that’s meaningful and within their means. All gifts are valued, and needed.
Donations directly support initiatives that have been identified during the school’s annual strategic planning process, including:
• Playground improvement
• Hiring special performing arts resource teachers
• Professional development opportunities for staff
• Tuition support for currently enrolled families who have demonstrated financial need
You can donate online using your credit card by clicking on the “donate” button below, or if you’d prefer to make a gift by cheque or e-transfer, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for information.
We are a registered charitable society (# 13184 9564 RR0001) and all donations over $25 are tax deductible. Your receipt will be mailed to you. Thank you so much for your support!
“Parent who benefited from our Tuition Assistance Fund
One of the most heartbreaking decisions I was forced to make this year was to withdraw my children from our beloved community at PSS. However, when friends at PSS learned we would not be returning, I was overwhelmed by their efforts to ensure my children could stay in the school. The headlines may be full of bad news, but I can tell you that the world is still full of good people – because my little family has been supported, held and protected in so much love by so many good people during this challenging season in our lives.
Pacific Spirit School is operated by New Learning Society, a volunteer-based not-for-profit organization founded in 1987 when it opened Lifesong School (later renamed Pacific Spirit School in 2007).
Our mission is to maintain a community that provides educational programs for children and adults that promote the growth of the whole person. New Learning Society's board of directors is a diverse group of college administrators, experts in multi-sensory learning, organizational strategists, educators, business consultants, engaged parents, and finance executives. These smart and committed volunteers provide overall leadership, strategic direction, and financial and legal stewardship for our school.
Gretchen Quiring is an educator who is currently both an instructor and a program head of Communication at the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT). She experienced a variety of alternative schooling philosophies growing up, and she and her husband Jeff Miller wanted a similar small-class, innovative educational experience for their son Sebastian. Sebastian graduated from PSS in 2017, after many thriving years in the school's atmosphere of positive interpersonal relationships and love of learning. Gretchen has 12 years of experience helping BCIT students from all over the world become better communicators. As an educator and administrator at BCIT, she strives to provide students with an interesting, innovative, high-quality education. As a teacher of adult learners, she especially values how Pacific Spirit students gain a love of learning and the tools to be successful active learners for life.
Anna Bridges works from home as an organizational strategist and policy advisory for an Ontario regulatory agency. She really enjoys contributing her ability to quickly understand the ‘big picture’ and connect that understanding to operational realities, and for finding creative, ‘out-of-the-box’ solutions to issues in collaborative ways. Her heart, however, lives in her ongoing exploration of her inner world and ways of relating with others through practices such as Inner-Relationship Focusing, Nonviolent Communication, mindfulness meditation, music, dancing and connecting with nature. This is reflected in her passionate support of Pacific Spirit School’s whole child approach to education; in particular, the nurturing of self-awareness, compassion and community responsibility. Anna and her husband Bill are thrilled that their son Oskar is learning and growing in such a supportive environment, and Anna is delighted to have this opportunity to contribute through the Board.
Heidi Anderson brings the education context to the Board and is responsible for the educational program for Pacific Spirit School. As principal of PSS, she embodies the philosophy of the NLS and PSS and provides mentorship and support to the rest of the educational staff at PSS. Heidi was also a leading educator in Life Song School and began the Kindergarten/Grade One program when her son, Liam, entered Kindergarten in 1994.
Tamisha Parris is an independent business consultant with over 20 years experience. She has provided project management, learning and development and diversity and inclusion services to a wide variety of clients in the for-profit and social profit sectors across Canada. Tamisha is also a mother of a son with unique educational needs which has led to a clear understanding of the learning and development needs of children and the need to advocate for those needs on their behalf. Her experience in the self employment world has taught her how to analyze issues of a large target population from the “big picture” and identify individually-centered solutions without sacrificing the need to address the broad generic needs of the population. Tamisha is interested in working with mutually interested groups to analyze broad concerns, set a clear direction for the long term and design programs and experiences that address any specific needs and goals as they emerge. She is a strong believer that education is power.
Joanna Michal, having grown up “unschooled” at home in central New York State, brings a unique perspective on what alternative education can be and an understanding of how such an experience translates into life as an adult in our culture. Joanna also brings a range of skills and experience from her past work in small business and as an IT business analyst. She enjoys volunteering with local organic farm initiatives, studying child development, building with wood and parenting her three lovely children together with her husband, Carl.
Derek Mah, as a father of 3 boys and 1 girl, is deeply committed to being the purveyor of good memories for his children. His role as a real estate investor and asset manager was preceded by past roles in equity research, corporate finance and strategic planning. Derek initially honed his strategic and analytical skill set through earning an HBA from the University of Western Ontario, followed by an MBA at the University of Chicago and a CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) designation. Having grown up in Vancouver, Derek left the city for new experiences at age 19 and returned after 14 years to start a family. During his time away from Vancouver, he lived and experienced culturally rich cities such as Toronto, Chicago, New York and London and also had the good fortune to have worked with and learned from numerous amazing people, to have been a part of a successful start-up and to have experienced working on Wall Street. However, the most notable experience during that time was the opportunity to take 10 months off to travel the world (37 countries within 6 continents), with his wife Erin. These diverse sets of life experiences have not only played a large role in shaping who he is today, but also allow Derek to bring a truly unique perspective to the New Learning Society.
Catherine Dinim is a passionate educator and mother of two children. As a former educator at Pacific Spirit School, and now the K-12 Educational Program Lead at a BC distributed learning program, she brings a unique and varied educational perspective to the board. She is continually interested in both how we humans learn and develop throughout the continuum of our lives, and how education can be shaped to meet these needs and support whole-brain growth in a way that is nurturing, challenging, supportive, adaptive and creative. Transitioning from an educator role at Pacific Spirit to board member is an exciting opportunity to stay connected and to continue to share in the growth of the school community.
“Barb, mother of Millie (grade 5)
My daughter's uniqueness is celebrated and accepted by the educators at Pacific Spirit. This makes all the difference into her attitude towards school.