I can't believe we are counting down to the end of 2017 and welcoming in 2018. It is this time of year, when our campus is quiet for a few weeks, and snow is falling all around, that I'm able to reflect on what our students and faculty have accomplished so far during this academic year, and the many wonderful things planned.
Opening day kicked off with a surprise for students - no classes! The first day was a focus on team-building and camaraderie among each grade as new and returning students participated in activities both on and off campus. This experience really highlights GRA's focus for the entire 2017 - 2018 school year - how the relationships formed between students and their teachers affect learning inside, and outside, of the classroom.
As we welcome everyone back from break, students will once again begin their first intensive course for two weeks. Through these intensives, faculty collaborate and teach a variety of interactive courses that allow students to work together as teams and experience subjects such as Food and Culture, Science! Science! Science!, and Genealogy (among other courses).
These courses are just one of the ways we're creating new and innovative learning experiences that are specifically for teaching our boys the way they learn best. As we head into 2018, there's more inter-disciplinary and cross-curricular activities planned between our teachers to show the many ways what students are learning can be applied to life after GRA.
It's also about motivating students to discover their strengths and use that passion to fuel new programs and experiences on campus for others. This could be seen with student-led initiatives across campus to incorporating projects in science, English, and learning more about the local community while developing language skills.
Looking ahead to 2018, our faculty are examining how to adapt assessment styles to meet the strengths of the students and to provide feedback to the students in the classroom that can be more formative and reflective. Faculty are also looking at ways to break down the walls of the classrooms by examining place-based education, such as taking classes out into the community and utilizing local resources, such as the Grand River, and other areas around campus to the strengths of the students.
With what everyone has accomplished to far, I'm excited for 2018 and creating new and shared experiences between the students, faculty, staff, and families of Grand River Academy.
Tim Viands, Headmaster