We're a small school, which is one of our strengths. The faculty is agile and empowered to work closely together. Across all learning at all grade levels we place our Rosseau Roots at the forefront, continually asking our students to identify and articulate their learning - their growing sense of self and their relationship to a rapidly changing world - according to each of the six roots.
Our faculty shares a belief in the benefits of active learning and of spending time outdoors, which is one of the reasons they are at Rosseau Lake College to begin with. And that’s a guiding principle: lessons should be active, purposeful; instruction should be hands-on, project based; classes should make the most of our setting. And they do. The campus is a learning lab, something that’s as true for biology and geography classes as it is for English.
Ultimately culture, specifically the culture of learning, is important. Graham Vogt, Assistant Head of School, Academics, has said it so well: “It is the difference between spotting a barred owl on a trail walk and seeing it at the zoo—it's impressive in both scenarios, but the experience is vastly different. We want our students to see the owl, not because we show it to them, but because they discover it for themselves.” At RLC that’s metaphorically true–discovery and experience is at the heart of our curricular delivery. But it's also literally true. There really are trails, and students really do see owls. Also as Graham says, “The learning, like the experience itself, is never quite forgotten.”
Academic instruction is delivered in four segments: two semesters of 12 weeks and two one-month terms. In Grades 9 and 10, students participate in a full afternoon of Arts (Music or Visual Arts) weekly. Learning becomes more self-directed in Grade 11 and 12 as students develop a sense of personal interest while growing increasingly mindful of future endeavours.
Semester learning provides large spaces for students to pursue and develop their thinking and ideas. Daily tutorials offer consistent instruction and discussion. Elongated blocks each afternoon offer both focus and depth, allowing students to explore learning through experimentation and lived experiences, often leveraging the incredible opportunities of our physical geography and local communities.
The curriculum is written by the Ontario ministry of education. As with all schools who offer the OSSD, we are required to teach the courses necessary to fulfill the degree requirements. What makes RLC unique–and this is also true of all schools–is how we deliver the curriculum, or, more precisely, how we craft the student experience. Those decisions are made by the Assistant Head of Schoool, Academics, in consultation with the faculty.
The Term learning blocs are highly focused on one academic credit, and built around exciting experiences that could include exploring our woods and lake, the local area and community, the construction of something monumental, and exciting travel opportunities to apply and engage in active experiential learning.
Unique to RLC, and developed here, the Foundation Years is a program unto itself. Learning is collaborative, creative, and project-based, making use of the outdoor spaces, including the lake, the campus trails, and outdoor instructional facilities. For example, Math and Science classes are often combined studies, interacting with the curriculum through large-scale projects. One year, students took a month-long journey of the mind to Mars, designing space travel and colony infrastructure that ensured human survival. In another year, the entire group decided upon a deep-dive into astronomy, culminating in a sleepout under the stars.
Often, but not always, the Grade 8s will be separated from the Grade 7s. Sometimes, however, the entire group will work together. Every now and then, the group will be organized in ways that don't recognize grade level. This is dependent on the particular class and/or initiative, and the various needs of a particular group at a given time. Our small size and favourable student/teacher ratio ensures individual support within our personalized learning community.
We believe that learning at this age group in particular is richest when active and, as often as possible, outside. Students intentionally build their 21st Century competencies—problem solving, collaboration, critical and creative thinking, resiliency, independence—while developing the Rosseau Roots in their own distinct ways.
In Grades 9 and 10, learning is active and very often outside. The sequencing of the curriculum is laid against the opportunities that the setting of the school provides. In Grade 9, for example, the geography curriculum is built around interactions with the physical environment. Per the provincial document, students are required to determine “the significance of ‘place’ as it relates to the natural environment, the human environment, and interactions within and between them.” Students at RLC experience those interactions first hand, on a daily basis, from wetlands to built environments. Specific geographic inquiries—from an analysis of rock formations, to biological processes—take place in the environment itself.
Similarly, in Grade 10 science, students are required to build an understanding of concepts in biology, chemistry, earth and space science, and physics, and how they relate to technology, society, and the environment. At RLC, the 56-acre campus includes a range of biomes, becoming what is essentially an expansive, immersive laboratory. Within it, students do everything from identifying species of wildlife, to examining Newton’s laws of motion as demonstrated in the motion of canoes on the water.
In grades 9 and 10 there are 50 minutes of literacy and numeracy instruction daily throughout both semesters, and students participate in a full afternoon of visual arts or performing arts each week.
Post-secondary counselling begins in Grade 9 with one-on-one meetings with our guidance counsellor. At this point, the goal of academic counselling is chiefly investigative: to help students find outlets for their interests while trying new things and experiencing new areas of the curriculum. This allows them an opportunity to begin to define and refine their academic goals—finding what they gravitate toward as well as what they don’t—and to begin to build a plan toward post-secondary studies. This is a time for students to gain a better sense of who they are as learners, to identify the skills they have as well as those they wish to develop, and explore ways of deploying them in real-world settings.
In Grades 11 and 12, the academic program becomes more self-directed, with advisors and mentors nurturing students’ interests while also relating them back to the core curricular outcomes. Daily morning tutorials offer consistent instruction and discussion. Elongated blocks each afternoon offer time to focus, allowing students to explore their learning through experimentation and personal experience.
Academic counselling continues while becoming more intentional than in earlier years, guiding the students’ growing awareness of themselves as learners, and relating that awareness to specific post-secondary programs. The academic counsellor that they have been meeting with since Grade 9 helps them apply, and ultimately accept, their post-secondary offers. Every year, 100% of our graduates enter programs that reflect the goals and aspirations they’ve been developing over the course of years.
The RLC Postgraduate Program is an additional year after a student has completed their high school diploma but before they enter post-secondary education. It provides a period of structured independence, offering students the opportunity to live within a supportive, academically oriented environment while refining skills, improving grades, and gaining life experience in preparation for success at the post-secondary level. It is an opportunity to build perspective, to connect more deeply with personal ambitions, and to emerge with a heightened sense of purpose.
Each Postgraduate Program is tailored to the needs and the desires of each individual. Working with our Program Coordinator, participants can ensure a highly-personalized experience, driven by individual need, interest and ambition. Students are also encouraged to use the time to gain new experiences, taking advantage of the full breadth of the RLC curricular and co-curricular areas, from international exchange programs, to term courses, to volunteer and work experience. Some students will focus on credit recovery, building their transcripts, or taking prerequisite courses that may have been missed while they were completing their graduate diplomas. Others will see the year as a chance to capitalize on a sense of adventure, such as making the most of the Round Square travel and conference events.
For most students, the year is a mixture of both those things. It's a time to grow and learn; to follow curiosities while feeling a sense of belonging within an academic community. The Postgraduate Program is driven by individual need, interest and ambition. Through lived experiences, the it ensures the continued development of:
-Confidence and self worth
-Empathy and open-mindedness
-Academic and executive functioning skills
-Self-advocacy, problem solving, critical and creative thinking, and communication
-Personal health and wellness
-Social, emotional and physical awareness
-A sense of self as it relates to personal, academic and professional goals