Rosseau Lake College is a preparatory school in the sense that students enroll intending to move into post-secondary studies. The academic program is rigorous, with an emphasis on deep knowledge.
The school year is semestered, so courses are offered over a period of months. That’s mirrored in the daily and weekly schedule, with longer blocks of time in the afternoons for students to get involved in projects in a more committed way. Because of the variation within the daily schedule (Wednesday afternoons, for example, are on a flexible schedule), there isn’t a sense of being pushed from class to class, discipline to discipline, whenever the bell rings. Instead, there is time offered to get into a task and stay with it, free from distractions.
Rosseau Lake College follows the Ontario curriculum—students graduate with the OSSD—though the progress through the grades is highly sequenced and unique to this institution, in this setting. Instruction is project based, and there are many points within the academic calendar for students to engage in larger, more detailed projects than more typical coursework would allow.
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 6/7s. 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.