Sakinaws: Caring, Courteous, Cooperative, Committed & Conscientious
PHSS is a small rural high school on the north end of the Sunshine Coast. Pender Harbour is a unique community, which was resource based, traditionally, fishing and logging. With a shift in the economic base, the resulting demographic changes has led to a declining student population. PHSS also serves a community with a cross-section of families socio-economically.
We were faced with small cohorts of students, which made it challenging to offer a broad-based educational program. In September 2015, we implemented a new school structure and timetable based on Thomas Haney Secondary’s and AL Fortune’s Flexible Education Model.
What we like about the Flex Ed and Self-Directed model is that we are able to structure the delivery of the courses with student learning at the forefront. We are able to offer a wider variety of courses within the timetable, structured so that there is more time for teachers and students to work individually or in groups with teacher support, with the amount of time that the students need and not what the class schedule requires. There is flexibility in terms of the number of “Seminar” classes students take, while we set the number of face-to-face classes at 2 to 3 per week depending on the class. We have also shortened the length of the classes to one-hour blocks and integrated courses into “Humanities” and “STEM” and provided double blocks for our junior grades. We have also added Exploration blocks: which are elective courses driven by student interest and inquiry (i.e. Aboriginal Carving Cohort, Makerspace Cohort and the Solar Power Cohort.)
We try to ensure our students maintain a high level of physical activity via our full year intra-mural program along with our extra-curricular programs. Our entire school participates in the annual Terry Fox Run, Move for Health Day and the annual PHSS Sports Day. Each term has at least one Exploration block that promotes an active lifestyle (Advanced Basketball Skills and Personal Weight Training are two examples this year)
We are well supported by community members who volunteer in various ways, including: coaching sports, running our hot lunch program, assisting in boat building for the annual April Tools Boat Race, and leading our Exploration blocks. These experiences help create and keep the connection to a very supportive community.
Our student population includes 36% with First Nations ancestry. We are working to increase cultural awareness at PHSS by weaving the Aboriginal Curriculum through multiage, cross curricular, class and school wide projects and field experiences