Established in 2005, the Learning Centre (LC) is an integral and increasingly popular part of Shawnigan Lake School that aids our students in achieving their optimal academic and personal success. By doing so, the LC contributes to Shawnigan’s goal to nurture student potential, pursue academic excellence, and help our young people develop future-proofing skills in preparation for life beyond our gates.
Students elect to participate in the LC program for a variety of reasons, including support for learning disabilities, academic difficulties, recovery from injury, illness or prolonged absence, and mental health challenges that interfere with academics. At the LC, enrolled students are supported by exceptionally talented full-time teachers who each have special education training as well as subject specialties. Using a flexible and individualized approach, we create a program of support for each student to help them reach their potential. We teach skills and strategies and emphasize process over product. Finally, we advocate for our students, while acknowledging that confident independence at the post-secondary level and beyond is the ultimate shared goal.
What makes the Learning Centre unique?
Shawnigan students who enrol in the LC program benefit from a number of unique features:
Centralized and accessible location
Soundproof test room
Zen meditation room
Multiple breakout classrooms to facilitate small group instruction
Specialized teacher support
Learning Centre program built into schedule as an elective class
Homework help provision and assistive technology
Mentorship program between senior and junior students
How does it work?
Each student who enrolls in the LC program is assigned to an inclusive education teacher who monitors progress, communicates with teachers, parents, advisors and House Directors, and maintains a holistic overview of all the aspects of a student’s life that affect learning. If appropriate, the LC program can also be accompanied by an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) that helps teachers adapt their teaching strategies to accommodate the student in the regular classroom.
Each Learning Centre class replaces another elective class in the student’s schedule for a total minimum of three customized hours each week dedicated to learning support. Generally, each LC class meets every other day for 60 to 90 minutes. During this time, students can receive help with their most challenging homework, work on their IEP goals, and learn about study strategies, test-taking skills and educational tools. Additionally, students can drop-in to see us after school, during the evening or on Saturday mornings.
At a Glance
10-15% of students use the Learning Centre
60% of students who use the Learning Centre take honours or AP courses
4:1 student-teacher ratio
100% of students receive post-secondary acceptances
What Students are Saying
“I think I just learned how to take the support given and really use it to be successful instead of just relying on myself. I also learned more about what I am really good at and what I find having trouble with, so when I ever have trouble with the same thing, I know that it will take me some time and not to worry.”
“The LC is very good at providing a calm work environment and lots of help whenever needed.”
“The support is excellent and I love having good educational or current event/news-related conversations with the teachers. I feel like I was super welcomed and everyone was so kind and always in good spirits.”
“The LC is really good at keeping the students organized. In my experience being there, they have really helped me stay focused on my work and up to date with my classes.”
“I joined because of math in grade 11 and I appreciated getting a second explanation of concepts. In grade 12, I appreciated the writing support particularly for sentence structure and essay organization, organizing my schedule and creating priority lists.”
“The Learning Centre is great for providing students with a safe environment to learn and grow. Having an amazing group of teachers and tutors who are always willing help us with our learning and encourage us to be better learners. They help us develop skills that will help us with our performance during class time and exams.”
“The main thing that I learned from the LC was concentrated focus. After doing work in the LC, I learned to get rid of distractions and get to the task at hand.”
“I learned how not to procrastinate and how to stay organized with my work so that I can stay on top of it and so that I won’t have too much all at once.”
“I think through my learning goals made in the LC, I was able to improve on learning skills that I may have not realized before. I also feel that I have really been able to learn that it is okay to have learning disabilities, and is something I should embrace and learn from.”
"I originally decided to come to Shawnigan because of the Learning Centre, because I am dyslexic. When my older brother came for his tour, my parents visited the Learning Centre and immediately thought that it was perfect for me, and was exactly what I needed to help me with my academics and to prepare me for university.
The LC has such a positive way of thinking about learning disabilities. They strategize around your individual needs, and they support and help you with everything. You can go there to take tests and to get help with your school work. It was exactly the environment I needed to be successful. My grades are better than they have ever been, and I have been able to gain a voice for my learning disability. Before, I was very shy and embarrassed about it, but now I feel totally confident to advocate for myself and my needs." Read More
About 10-15% of the school population enrolls in the program each year. There are many others who visit us for casual support as needed. Overall the LC sees a huge variety of students come through its doors every day.
We provide small group instruction with a maximum student to teacher ratio of 4:1. However, our groups sizes fluctuates according to the needs of the day and we often work with students in 1:1 or 2:1 settings.
The LC generally focuses on supporting students with high-incidence learning disabilities as well as some behavioral or emotional disorders. Many of our students are impacted by ADHD, executive functioning challenges and/or mental health concerns such as anxiety.
Yes. The LC has a sound-proofed Test Centre, designed with a calming theme in mind. It includes assistive technology tools for text-to-speech, voice-to-text, reading pens, headsets, white noise and silent keyboards for typing. The room is restricted to a small number of students who can use it at any given time and it includes an additional 1:1 space for students who need a completely private room. Students with IEPs can book a space in the LC Test Centre whenever they have a test for which accommodations cannot be effectively provided in the classroom. The Test Centre is also open after school so students can complete tests with extra time without having to miss subsequent classes.
Yes. Even though each student will be assigned one of the inclusive education teachers to oversee their programming needs, they also have access to whichever teacher best suits their academic needs on any given day.
The inclusive education teachers in the LC will be heavily involved in ensuring that our students can stay on top of their homework. The goals is to set students up to complete their homework independently and confidently. We work with students to make weekly homework plans.
We have worked deliberately to minimize stigma as much by placing the LC in a centralized location, making it open and accessible to all, encouraging regular traffic through the Centre, and promoting positive self-advocacy and acceptance of differences. Our students do an amazing job supporting each other and their inclusive attitude towards each other goes a long way to eliminating stigma. We work hard to be vigilant of the small things that can inadvertently create a stigmatizing situation for our students.
There is a flat monthly fee associated with enrolling in a LC class. This fee is comparable to the cost of tutoring. The specific tutorial support available during LC classes should replace the need for traditional tutoring. Students are also welcome to visit for drop-in tutorials after school, on evenings and on Saturday mornings.
Learning Centre Staff
List of 4 members.
Learning Centre Specialist, Grade 8 Program Coordinator
House Director - Strathcona, Learning Centre Specialist, Head of Rowing
House Director - Renfrew, Special Education Teacher
We acknowledge with respect the Coast Salish Peoples on whose traditional lands and waterways we live, learn and play. We are grateful for the opportunity to share in this beautiful region, and we aspire to healthy and respectful relationships with those who have lived on and cared for these lands for millennia.
Shawnigan Lake School is an independent co-educational boarding school for ages 13 –18 on Canada’s beautiful West Coast. Our diverse, interdisciplinary and innovative programming helps shape the next generation of global leaders.