SHS is an independent day school for boys from JK to Grade 8. Our mission is to inspire and empower each boy through his formative years.

Sterling Learning

Our Core Value of Sterling Learning states that we value innovative academic practices and boy-focused programming that inspire individual growth, curiosity and passion for learning.

Below are examples of Sterling Learning that have been initiated since September 2012 as part of our ongoing effort to build and sustain the highest degree of excellence within our academic program and practices.

We Value Innovative Academic Practices and Boy-Focused Programming

As a school focused on boys’ foundational learning, excellent literacy and numeracy skills must form the crux of our academic program. To this end, we have investigated top programs around the globe, attended international conferences, visited internationally renowned elementary schools for boys and adopted programs and practices proven to yield exceptional learning outcomes.

We value boy-focused approaches and have recently introduced new co-curricular opportunities that are highly engaging and enriching for our boys, with positive results. We continue to explore new and inspiring opportunities that interest boys while honing key skills.

Literacy Program Development and Integration

In the Primary Division, the Fountas and Pinnell Guided Reading program and the Levelled Literacy Intervention (LLI) Program, have been introduced with excellent success. Reading teachers work with small groups of boys who are reading at a similar ability to help them master their understanding of increasingly complex words and grammatical structures. Each boy receives direct instruction from his reading teacher as he reads and processes text at increasingly challenging levels of difficulty. This method is now considered a gold-standard in literacy instruction and preliminary results indicate that it has greatly enhanced our reading outcomes for our Primary boys. This program has since been expanded within the Primary and Junior Divisions.

Research has proven that when subjects are taught in connection with one other, a student’s understanding and retention are enhanced. An integrated approach to English and Social Sciences has resulted in deeper learning for boys in Grades 6 and 7. While not directly related to literacy development, we have also integrated Social Sciences and Science in Grade 8 in order to deliver a combined Earth Sciences program that applies authentic connections to boys’ learning experiences.

Numeracy Program Development

Following extensive research, we identified the Singapore Math approach as an exceptional tool for teaching foundational math learning in the Primary and Junior years. Students develop a more in-depth understanding of math concepts using this method and are better prepared for higher levels of math. Classes are broken into three groups at each grade, enabling increased attention for each boy as he learns math concepts. Early results are extremely positive, with boys responding well to this new approach and demonstrating elevated learning outcomes. The Singapore Math approach is used in Grades 1 to 5 and introduced to boys in Kindergarten.

The Grade 7-8 Math program incorporates a team teaching model, delivering the core program along with the addition of regular labs in critical thinking and problem solving. This approach deepens understanding, expands critical thinking and application skills and helps boys to retain more complex math concepts while promoting higher order thinking skills. Having multiple teachers in the classroom has allowed for remediation and extension, supporting individual learning needs during these critical years of mathematical skill development.

These are some of our current initiatives related to innovative academic programming, but we will not stop here. We continue to examine best practices in boys’ elementary education and will build upon our existing strengths in our efforts to achieve excellence.

Expanded Co-Curricular Opportunities

Boys and teachers are making excellent use of the new Safran-Ferguson Studio in the JMS, with high and low energy movement-based learning activities. We are now enjoying new and expanded club offerings, especially for the Primary and Junior Divisions, in drama, hip hop, karate, morning radio and yoga. Teachers have also adopted this space to provide more movement-based activities in their regular classes, in music and visual arts, for example.

Through the Grade 6 Extension Program, boys now participate in debating, public speaking, information technology projects and woodworking in our new Phelan Work Space. As well, the expanded Lego Robotics offering and the new Go-Kart club are both huge hits. There is no doubt that SHS boys are responding very well to hands-on and movement-based learning in the JMS and throughout the school.

We Inspire Individual Growth, Curiosity and Passion for Learning

As educators and role models, the strong relationships that our teachers forge with SHS boys inspire individual growth, curiosity and passion for learning. In our small school environment, focused entirely on the formative years from JK – 8, our teachers get to know each boy as he grows and develops. They discover what engages and motivates each boy in order to have a successful and rewarding learning experience.

Promoting Learning and Individual Growth

A central component of the teacher-student relationship is assessment. The fundamental purpose of assessment is to promote learning. In 2014, our teachers fully overhauled our assessment practices to better serve our boys. Teachers worked closely with Ken O’Connor, an internationally recognized leader in the field of student assessment, and consulted K-8 boys’ schools in New York, Boston and San Francisco, in order to develop our new assessment model and report cards. This model makes strengths and learning gaps more explicit and provides boys, parents and teachers with clear learning targets to promote individual growth.

Inspiring Educators Bring and Build Passion

Inspiring teachers make all the difference in the educational experience of our boys. Our faculty members are passionate about providing innovative, proven and boy-focused programming. Professional development enables them to build and sustain the knowledge and expertise they need to deliver this programming. As a result, we continue to place a strong emphasis on teacher development so as to inspire individual growth, curiosity and passion for learning among our boys.

Moving our Strategic Vision Forward

We continue to assess our programs, build our pedagogical practices and deliver the best education for JK-8 boy learners. We are engaged in renewal and inspired by small successes and the promise of what we will achieve for our boys. This is an exciting time at SHS and I am pleased that we are, together, moving forward.
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