Norma Rose Point School is taking parent engagement to a whole new level with an innovative program aimed at connecting the significant university-level expertise available in their school community and pipelining it right into the classroom.
Case-in-point is the role PAC joint Chair (and frequent classroom guest) Roos Spanjers is playing in the Grade 1 and 2 classrooms of the school. Almost every day Spanjers heads down to the school with her little pre-school aged daughter Eluin (fondly referred to as Rose Point's little mascot) to work closely with Rose Point teachers Karen Mackinnon, Sharon Lowe and Karen Chow.
Spanjers' background is in biology. She earned a masters degree in the Netherlands before her and her husband moved to Canada so he could continue his work at UBC. With her mastery of science in hand, Spanjers works with Norma Rose Point's teachers to develop innovative and engaging curriculum that has the classes tromping about in the forest on the school's doorstep. In the woods, students learn about Swordfern trail and the diversity of plants and animals that make it their home.
Spanjers says she also she takes a great deal from her work with the students and the teachers.
"I love that I can kick start my brain again. As a stay at home mom I didn't get to do to much project work," she says. "Here, I'm amazed to work with these incredible teachers and witness first hand 21st century learning where the teachers are really thinking outside of the box."
Principal Rosa Fazio says Spanjers brings in a lot of expertise that classroom teachers don't always have.
"The kids are so curious and ask lots of questions," she says. "Roos really embraces the ideas of interdisciplinary teaching and she lives it. And so she is such a great conduit for the school in the natural sciences."
Fazio says Spanjers is just the tip of the iceberg. She recently sent out an online survey to discover what other specialists might be willing to volunteer their time and knowledge helping elementary schools. She heard back from over 40 specialists, who work in a variety of industries, including forestry, chemistry, engineering, computing sciences, geography, literary arts, public speaking and music.
To read an article about Norma Rose Point and its work around parent engagement in the Vancouver Sun, click here.