A Saskatoon Public Schools program is providing students with the opportunity to balance education with their involvement in the arts, athletics or other pursuits.
The FLEX Program based at City Park School was launched in September 2015 to provide students with the opportunity to combine their learning with the pursuit of skill development outside of traditional school offerings. Students receive a combination of classroom and online instruction within a flexible learning environment.
The program is open to students in Grade 7 to Grade 10 who, in addition to their education, have committed a large portion of their time to involvement and high-level training in activities such as music, dance, equestrian, hockey, diving and gymnastics. In order to enrol in the program, students must meet a requirement of significant involvement in a specific skill-training opportunity outside of school.
The blended-learning model offered by the FLEX Program allows it to adapt to meet the individual needs of each student. The program includes face-to-face instruction as well as online components to provide students with scheduling flexibility. All aspects of learning, whether in the classroom or online, are guided by the program's two teachers. The program's daily schedule includes flex time opportunities for students to connect with teachers to ask questions and receive direct feedback on their online learning.
The program builds strong lines of communication between students, teachers and families in order to ensure student success in balancing education with their outside passions. Students receive support in their learning not only from the school team and parents, but also their classroom peers.
Students enrolled during the program's first year embraced the opportunities offered by the blended-learning model. They thrived academically and socially while building independence and their ability to be organized and adapt to a busy schedule. Being part of a classroom setting provided the opportunity to develop friendships with like-minded individuals.
"Academics is the focus, but there are a number of positive outcomes," said teacher Mark Peterson. "In conversations with the students themselves—and with their family members—they talk about how they have grown and you can see it in your everyday interactions with them."
The program's ability to meet the needs of individual students by providing a flexible schedule during the school day for training, competition and related commitments offers balance to a student's overall educational experience and family life.
Our students say the FLEX Program has provided them with an opportunity to succeed in their learning while balancing education with their commitments to high-level participation in athletics and the arts.
"In the FLEX program there is more of an opportunity to participate in my activity and still focus on my academics. I would recommend it to anyone who has a passion for a specific activity and currently struggles balancing school and their activity. "
"The FLEX Program allows me to put in more hours of training so that I can compete at a high level of diving and perform to the best of my abilities. I train during the school day without missing as much class time as in a regular school."
More information on the FLEX Program is available on the program's webpage.